Mackie U15s Vrs Highland
Tough Win for Mackie U15s
Report on Mackie U15 game against Highland, 27th November 2016
Mackie U15’s welcomed Highland to Redcloak for a friendly fixture on a bright and calm, but cold, Sunday afternoon. The respite from days of hard winter frosts had allowed the ground to thaw out, leaving the Redcloak pitch firm and dry, perfect for running rugby. Highland always bring an aggressive and combative style of play and this would be a good test for Mackie who have been short on game time since their last victory at Gordonstoun on the 30th of October. The game proved to be very competitive and an excellent advert for U15 rugby. Mackie eventually overcame their valiant opponents 36-33 scoring two late tries to seal a victory that, if not well deserved, was well worth their endeavour and powers of tenacity and self- belief. Highland proved to be formidable opponents, particularly up front where their size and forward strength gave Mackie problems all match. But for all their possession Highland could not escape the dogged Mackie defence and last ditch tackling that helped preserve the score line largely in Mackie’s favour, though at times Mackie found themselves on back foot and pinned in their own half. Even when Highland threatened to escape with a victory having scored 3 unopposed tries late in the game to open up a 33-24 lead, Mackie heads did not drop. Instead they raised their game and showed true mettle. This Mackie team are not quitters and the will to win runs strong in their veins. Thus the spectators were given a rousing last 5 minutes of play in which a resurgent Mackie scored two fine tries to seal victory.
The game was played in three 20minute periods. Mackie started the game well and showed their pace and perchance for passing along the line to carve out an early try for Tom Meyer on the right wing, his slick footwork taking him past the flailing Highland defence. Highland were slow starters but gradually came into the game with their forward power becoming more dominant as the game went on. They scored a try from a crash ball before the end of the first 20minute period and with the conversion took the lead. In the second period Mackie forwards continued to toil against their larger opponents, but this did not stop the Mackie team from scoring three more tries with Findlay Rhind scoring on the overlap, captain Alex Dunlop squeezing over after a strong drive by Dean Davidson, and then Mackie’s player of the match, winger Murray Allan scoring a great try from 30 yards out. He handed off the opposing wing and had just the legs and reach to get the ball over the line as the covering tacklers arrived. Tom Meyer kicked two conversions. Highland came back with a converted try of their own to leave the score 24-14. Mackie began to look tired as the third and final 20 minute period started. The close contact rucking and driving play by the Highland forwards began to take charge giving them possession and territory. Two quick tries followed by Highland, one on the blind side from a 15m ruck, the other from a crash through a weak Mackie defensive line who were beginning to tackle too high, targeting ball rather than player. A further conversion gave Highland a slender lead. From the ensuing restart Highland then gathered the ball and again poor tackling by Mackie allowed the opposing centre to break through and sprint 50 yards to score under the posts, giving Highland what looked to be an unassailable lead. However just when it looked like the game had turned for good in Highland’s favour, Mackie dug deep and came back at Highland with a rousing display of renewed aggression and competiveness. A quick kick off caught Highland off guard and Mackie retrieved the ball. It was quickly recycled and passed along the line to Murray Allan who again defied the odds and beat two players and was driven over the line for a try that reinvigorated his team mates. The conversion was missed so Mackie were still 4 points behind. With 3 minutes left the Highland kick off less than 10m so a scrum allowed Mackie to secure posseion. They streamed forward controlling the ball, the forwards showing that they could outcompete Highland when they got organised. Quick handling in the backs saw Findlay Rhind scoring a second try that was almost identical in its execution to their first, to loud cheers from the watching parents and players. Logan Grant kicked the conversion to make the score 36-33. There was still 1 minute left on the clock. However Highland never got a look in and Mackie again took the ball from the restart and thrust forward almost to the Highland line. It looked like another try was for the taking but, with time up the ball was kicked out and the victory secured. A close encounter and a hard fought victory. It was a stearn test for Mackie and showed that they have the grit and fight to never give up. A great game and a great belated performance from Mackie. It will back to the training ground next week. The forwards need to secure quicker ball from the rucks and to hit them lower and not allow themselves to be driven backwards. The backs need to improve some of their tackling and handling under pressure. Room for improvement yes, but there is always more value in a hard earned victory than winning week in week out with relative ease.