Mackie U15s Win in the Mud
By Richard Cochrane
Mackie U15s Vrs Highland
Report on Mackie U15 game against Highland, 5th March 2017
Mackie U15s travelled to Inverness to play Highland in a shield match. After torrential rain the day before the team knew what to expect. A Highland mud bath was inevitable and a hard and physically draining match expected. Mackie dug deep to win 17-10 in a closely fought and competitive match. To the bystander and coaches it was a frustrating day watching well-worked ploys and moves on the training ground slip and slide into nothing in the squelching mud. Dropped balls, trips and fumbles dictated the tempo of the match with neither team able to capitalise on the errors of their foes, or to find a way of gaining any dominance. But the players enjoyed the mud and were not dispirited by the conditions or the impact it had on the game plan. Mackie stuck to an offensive style of play trying to pass the ball through hand and create space and overlaps. However with traction at a premium it was not easy to find space or speed. After 20 minutes of play the game was still at stalemate dominated by scrums and lineouts. Highland were first to benefit from Mackie’s largesse with ball in hand scoring a simple try from a pick up after Mackie dropped the ball trying to run out from 5 yards from their line having won a turn over from a Highland penalty. This simple score highlighted a lack of game management by the Mackie team who doggedly tried to run when a kick to touch would have been a safer tactic when under pressure close to the try line. Mackie hit back quickly with Captain Alex Dunlop barrelling over for a try from short range holding off sluggish Highland tackling. At half time a score of 5 -5 was a fair reflection on the state of play. Highland used their forward strength with short peels and layoffs to make yardage, while Mackie tried to play the more expansive game. The second half had barely begun when Mackie’s Max Nehring scored the try of the match. Taking a pass close to the Highland 22 he cut a great line running diagonally through the Highland midfield and had the pace to outsprint them to score under the posts. A great piece of individual brilliance. Tom Meyer converted to give Mackie a 12-5 lead. The balance of play then switched with the Highland forwards taking more control, aided by a rash of penalties awarded to them for incessant Mackie infringements. Mackie held them at bay through dogged tackling but eventually succumbed to an overlap close to their line. It was all to play for, with a score of 12-10 with 10 minutes to go. Mackie however did not fade but stepped up a gear after this fright and began to pressure Highland more pinning them in their own half. With a minute to go Findlay Rhind scored a well worked try in the corner after slick passing had finally created the overlap and space that Mackie had sought all game. A hard and brutal contest but one played in good spirits by two competitive teams. The conditions did not favour graceful rugby but Mackie’s persistence and guile eventually paid off with a well-earned win. There will be some tired and sore boys tonight.