U18′s Match Reports
With a 7am start from Banchory, for an early KO in Inverness, Deeside U18 could easily have lacked focus for the Caledonian Shield final against Aberdeen Wanderers. They were, however, both very focused and very determined to win this game and it showed both in attack and defence throughout. Very windy and at times very wet conditions made play difficult for both sides, but constant pressure from Deeside eventually resulted in the first points for captain Tom Christie, unconverted out 5:0.
Scrum half Matthew Hillier use the wind to good effect constantly pushing play into the Wanderers half with well-placed box kicks. Douglas Park’s debut at inside centre was phenomenal, and when Wanderers tried to move the ball wide they we consistently closed down by some excellent tackling. Angus Wallace also tackled well around the fringes of the rucks, and in the conditions Wanderers struggled to break the gain line. Forward pressure and good interlinking produced Deeside’s second try from Chris Ballantyne, this time Sam Morris making a good conversion from wide out 12:0.
The front row trio of Melvin McAskill, Angus Hart and Dan Sutton held the scrums solid, and in the second row Peter Lamont and Jordan McDonald provided the power needed to put pressure on the Wanderers scrum. No.8 Mathew Gordan picked up well from the base of the scrum, and soon the Deeside pack were putting pressure close to the Wanderers try line again. Scrum half Mathew Hillier dummied the wide pass and sniped past the Wanderers guards at the ruck to score Deeside’s third try again converted by fly-half Sam Morris.
Play restarted and almost immediately Deeside were again in control and attacking, with a well worked overlap putting winger Connor McWilliam over in the corner 24:0. With play restarted again Wanderers rallied and with good phase play eventually crossed the Deeside line just before half time 24:5.
In the second half Deeside found themselves more on the back foot. The kicking game was much harder for Deeside against the strong wind, but it was a let off for Deeside that Wanderers failed to use it to full effect for their own advantage. Deeside tackling was crucial with Tswai Mweemba and Connor Bull tackling well on the wings and when Wanderers did try to use the wind, full back Liam Hutcheon was always well positioned to receive the ball and counter attack.
Wanderers upped the pressure and crossed the Deeside line twice, only to be held up, but the third time the score was good and the margin reduced to 24:10. With half the Deeside team having played through to the semi -finals of the Lathallan 7’s on the day before, and a smaller than normal Deeside squad, legs were clearly beginning to tire but Deeside managed to contain Wanderers for the remaining 10 minutes, even coming close to another break away try. Despite the difficult conditions this was a good game to watch with some good rugby played by two good sides.
Deeside: Melvin McAskill, Angus Hart, Dan Sutton, Peter Lamont, Jordan McDonald, Chris Ballantyne, Matthew Gordan, Angus Wallace, Matthew Hillier, Sam Morris, Tom Christie, Douglas Park, Tswai Mweemba, Conor McWilliam, Laim Hutcheon, Connor Bull.
Frost has been a been a disrupting issue for several previous Deeside vs Gordonstoun games, but despite the cold trend the pitch was in almost perfect condition. Gordonstoun’s last fixture saw them record a 22-13 win over previously unbeaten league leaders Highland, so this was expected to be a tough game all round. Deeside’s previous game was a somewhat rusty performance against Mackie away in Stonehaven and although Deeside came away with a convincing 22-10 win they squandered at least two additional try scoring opportunities.
A similar performance this week would simply gift the game to an on form Gordonstoun but Deeside’s focused warm up suggested they had different ideas altogether.
For the first 15 minutes Deeside dominated play, the forwards rucked well, the backs tried options and the linkage between forwards and backs was levels above that of Deeside’s previous game. Gordounstoun’s defence held however and with twenty minutes played they began to make more and more incursions into the Deeside half eventually breaking the deadlock with a long range penalty 0-3.
Deeside’s lineouts also showed a big improvement and Gordonstoun were unable to set up the driving maul platform that they used so effective the last time these two teams met. Gordonstoun changed tactics and began to use a pick and drive game more effectively in an attempt to suck in more of the Deeside defence. The tactic worked and the first try of the game came from a series of connected plays taking Gordonstoun close enough to the line for their forwards to drive over from close range, the try was easily converted 0-10. Undeterred Deeside’s response was almost immediate, they moved the game back into Gordonstoun territory and were unlucky on several occasions not the break defence, a single pass not going to hand or a knock on at the crucial point just foiling the continuity of building their attack.
Nonetheless pressure usual does result in points and with a series of quickly taken tap penalties by scum half Matthew Hillier constantly putting Gordonstoun on the back foot, Deeside set up a ruck less than a metre from the Gordonstoun line. Several previous penatlties against Gordonstoun were for repeatedly being offside at the ruck and as Gordonstoun committed the same offence again only one metre out, referee Roy Greig had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try to Deeside as flanker Joe Birdsey driving for the line was tackled illegal by an offside Gordonstoun player once again. Struan Gordon added the conversion and the ref’s whistle went for half time 7-10.
The second half was again a very tight game and like the first there was no score for the first twenty minutes. Also like the first the deadlock was broken with a penalty but this time it was Deeside’s Struan Gordon taking the points to level the score at 10-10 . Unfortunately for Deeside they soon conceded a penalty within range for Gordonstoun who kicked successfully again to re-take a narrow 10-13 lead.
Deeside rallied and with only minutes on the clock could have scored the winner in the dyeing moments of the game when a series of penalties put them within metres of the line. From only five metres out a structured tap to the forwards might have worked a try, but with a quickly taken tap the ball was spilled from a tackle , and despite the Gordonstoun tacklers not being on or behind their try line the referee judged the first offence to be lost forward and blew for full time. Although it was disappointing for the players not to win this very close game, this was an excellent performance all round from Deeside, and a huge improvement over last week’s win against Mackie. In the last two games Deeside have fielded squads of 22 and 21 players, a big improvement on previous games and this is also undoubtedly a factor that will be key in the second part of the season, with success in the Caley Cup a very realistic prospect this season. Deeside’s next game will be away to Aberdeen Grammar on the 26th January.
Deeside: Liam Hutcheon, Connor Bull, Matthew Gordon, Peter Lamont, Andrew Mullins, Douglas Park, John Crilly, Alexander Taylor, Struan Gordon, Matthew Hillier, Rafe Welsh, Andrew Hardman, Tswai Mweemba, Joe Birdsey, George Watt, Thomas Christie, Angus Hart, Melvin McAskill, John McGowan, Chris Ballantyne, Jordan McDonald.
Pre-match preparation for this fixture was not ideal including a couple of unexpected no-shows amongst the forwards…. Nonetheless Deeside adapted, with Chris Ballantyne coming into the front row, and John McGowan moving from the wing to flanker. Deeside took control right from the KO, and with play camped in the Moray half only ten minutes had been played before scrum half Sam Morris opened the scoring receiving the ball from Captain Tom Christie picking up at No 8 from a scrum 20 meters out.
Although Deeside were playing into a variable wind good tactical kicking from fly half Struan Gordon kept the game mostly in the Moray half. Deeside were also more adept at moving the ball quickly into space and after threating to break several times , winger Chris Long eventually got around the outside of the Moray defence and in for the second score with just 18 minutes on the clock. Throughout the game the forwards rucking was impressive with clean ball presentation in attack, and minimal numbers committed in defence, with Peter Lamont, Andrew Mullins, Connor Bull and John McGowan especially notable for their work rate and Chris Ballantyne seeming to be involved everywhere, despite the fact that he had been shifted from back row to front row.
Neither of the first half tries was converted and the two sides swapped ends at half time with Deeside leading narrowly 10-0. One substitution at half time saw Jordan McDonald moved into the front row and Chris Ballantyne restored to his usual back row position. Now playing with the breeze in their favour Deeside began to move the ball more quickly along the back line and the next break came from a line break from centre George Watt, whose form has been improving with every game, 15-0. Moray, however, seemed determined not to let the game slip away from them and for a period of about 15 minutes they played their best rugby, eventually breaking through Deeside’s defence to score under the posts; this took the score back to a competitive 15-7.
Deeside’s first reaction was to start forcing the game and as a result they were unable to string more than one phase of play together. Eventually under the leadership of Captain Tom Christie they steadied their game and realised they simply needed to retain possession and build phases to take control. As they eventually regained composure three tries followed in quick succession, the first another for centre George Watt, the second from Tom Christie and the third from Chris Ballantyne, who was without doubt man of the match. The final score of 36-7 reflected a convincing performance, and above all the team spirit that pervaded this game will make Deeside a difficult prospect for any team that has less of this most special ingredient.
Deeside: Liam Hutcheon, Chris Long, George Watt, John Crilly, John McGowan, Struan Gordon, Sam Morris, Jordan McDonald, Angus Hart, Peter Lamont , Alex Taylor, Andrew Mullins, Tom Christie, Chris Ballantyne, Connor Bull, Rafe Welsh, Andrew Hardman.
Had you only watched the first ten minutes of this game you would be forgiven for thinking it should have been one-way traffic all going Deeside’s way. With less than ten minutes played Deeside were two tries up, the opener coming from a good forward driving maul, with Chris Ballantyne breaking off to make the line, the second from a training park move, number 8 Matthew Gordon, scrum half Sam Morris, and well finished by winger John McGowan. Neither try was converted but Deeside had the perfect start 10:0 with only seven minutes played. Perfect start it was but from this point forward Deeside entered the fatal comfort zone and Grammar raised their game. Grammar’s first points came from a penalty, soon followed by a try out on the wing and another penalty giving Grammar the half time lead by a single point 10:11. In the second half, the lead was to change hands three more times. With forty four minutes since their last score Deeside eventually raised their game and a well worked backline move with a decisive change of angle saw George Watt score from centre unopposed, 15:10. Undaunted Grammar replied almost immediately aided by some scrag tackling, which allowed the Grammar ball carriers to make easy ground, and by a short lived but deadly slip by Deeside back into the comfort zone of their preceding score. With only fifteen minutes left to play Deeside looked the more determined side and eventually the determination resulted in territorial advantage with a five meter lineout. The ball was caught and driven well, a much improved facet of Deeside’s game throughout and Captain Tom Christie stretched through for the vital score. Struan Gordon converted to take the score to its final tally of 22:16. Grammar rallied once more but a knock on just before the line was the last play of the game. This was an exciting and nervous game to watch, played in good spirits throughout, Deeside were deserved winners four tries to two, but will need to make vast improvements to game control and flow as they enter the second half of the season chasing a place in the post-Christmas Pan Caledonia league.
Rafe Welsh, Douglas Park, John McGowan, Chris Long, George Watt, John Crilly, Tswai Mweemba, Struan Gordon, Sam Morris, Melvin McAskill, Angus Hart, Jordan McDonald, Peter Lamont, Alex Taylor, Malcolm Diack, Matthew Gordon, Chris Ballantyne, , Tom Christie, Connor Bull.
Weather was a key factor in this top of the table clash between Deeside u18 and Highland with Deeside being forced to play into a strong wind in the first half. Highland took immediate advantage and pushed play deep into Deeside’s 22. The Deeside defence was stretched and with only two minutes played Highland scored out wide, unconverted in the gale 5:0.
For the remainder of the first half Deeside spend most time defending, with only rare incursions into the Highland half. For the most part defence was solid, but in the face of relentless Highland pressure and good use of the wind, Deeside concede two further tries one converted 17:0. Typical of the Highland weather, the wind dropped in the second half, and the toll of some minor injuries and changes put Deeside on the back foot again. This so easily could have been a turning point in this game but Deeside failed to t take control.
Time and again they found themselves defending with little quality first or second phase ball to work off and Highland with more possession and good support lines crossed the Deeside line twice more. As the wind picked up again in the final ten minutes, Deeside at last had some territory and possession. Eventually a quickly taken tap penalty by scrum half Matthew Hillier was finished by wing Tswai Mweemba and despite the distance out, and the breeze, converted by stand-off Struan Gordon 27:7.
Deeside finished stronger and played their best rugby in the last ten minutes crossing the Highland line once more, but judged held up, but it was too little too late. In many games a little luck and small margins can make all the difference and a head rather than a tails at the start of this one might have resulted in a very different outcome; the return fixture will certainly be one to watch. Thanks also to Highland for their excellent hospitality. Next week the U18’s are away once more to Gordonstoun.
Rafe Welsh, Douglas Park, George Watt, John Crilly, Tswai Mweemba, Struan Gordon, Matthew Hillier, Melvin McAskill, Angus Hart (Captain), Jordan McDonald, Alex Taylor, Andrew Mullins, Malcolm Dyack, Matthew Gordon, Chris Ballantyne, Andrew Hardman, Tom Christie, Connor Bull.
On a bright sunny day at Woodend, Deeside U18s played host to Ellon and after a tough game which kept the spectators entertained throughout, Deeside ran out victorious by 19 points to 17. Deeside’s first points came after outside centre George Watt disregarded the two players supporting outside him and cut back. His strong run brought him close enough to stretch and score the try.
A second try followed when Ellon’s attempted clearance kick was charged down and Chris Ballentyne recovered the ball and crashed over. Struan Gordon added the conversion. Throughout the first half, much of the play was in the Ellon half, with quickly recycled ball kicked deep or spread wide for wings Douglas Park and Chris Long to stretch the defence.
Ellon had their chances too and finally scored with a try wide out late in the half. Deeside responded in the best fashion, taking play deep into the Ellon 22 where skipper Tom Christie saw half a gap and squeezed over for the try. Again, Struan Gordon added the conversion.
In the second half, Ellon’s large pack dominated possession but were met with a resolute defence, with one tackle from No.8 Matthew Gordon drawing a gasp from the crowd. In such a well balanced and keenly fought contest, it is a pity Ellon indulged in some off the ball intimidation, contrary to the spirit of the game. However, Deeside merely steped up their efforts. Twice Ellon crossed the Deeside try line, but the ball was held up and the danger passed.
A number of injuries disrupted the Deeside team, but all stood up to the challenge. Eventually, Ellon did score a converted try to bring them 7 points short of the Deeside total. Ellon stepped up the pressure and as time ran out they claimed their third try. The Deeside defence had kept the attack out wide and the conversion proved to be too difficult, leaving a 2 point margin which was protected for the remaining couple of minutes.
Deeside from: M. McAskil, A. Hart, J. McDonald, A. Taylor, A. Mullins, T. Christie, C. Ballentyne, M. Gordon, M. Hillier, S. Gordon, c. Long, J. Crilly, G. Watt, D. Park, R.Welsh, A. Hardman, J. McGowan, T. Mweemba, M. Dyack, P. Lamont.
Deeside’s back line ran in five tries to complete a convincing and important 0:25 win away to Moray in Elgin, but this was an all-round team performance with the forwards providing the backs a rock solid platform to play off. It took less than three minutes for Deeside to open the scoring with full back Sam Morris joining the back line to form an overlap and squeeze in at the corner.
All three of Deeside’s first half tries came in the same corner, the second by winger Douglas Park, who outpaced the defence and the third by George Watt at centre who didn’t need to use the overlap that had been created by quick recycling of the ball.
The second half was almost a mirror of the first with Sam Morris and Douglas Park scoring out wide. And in the dying moments of the game center John Crilly was unlucky not to add a sixth try. Deeside’s rucking has been improving game by game and it was key to the quick second phase ball that created all five of Deeside’s tries with captain Angus Hart leading by example. Kicking was also a key factor with fly-half Struan Gordan and scrum half Matthew Hillier showing good territorial awareness, repeatedly pushing Moray back up field when they dared to enter Deeside’s 22.
Replacements Tswai Mweemba, Connor Bull and Peter Lamont bolstered the side with fresh legs in the second half all showing excellent commitment. Moray managed to cross the Deeside line twice during the second half using their large pack to good effect, but on both occasions the determination of the Deeside team was clear as they managed to hold up both incursions and disrupt and clear from the resulting Moray scrums. Next week Deeside U18 play Ellon at home in Banchory on Saturday KO 1pm, all spectators welcome.
Deeside: Sam Morris, Douglas Park, George Watt, John Crilly, Chris Long, Struan Gordon, Matthew Hillier, Melvin McAskill, Jordan McDonald, Angus Wallace, Alex Taylor, Andrew Mullins, Angus Hart (Captain), Malcolm Diack, Chris Ballantyne, Tswai Mweemba, Peter Lamont, Connor Bull.
Orkney came out intent on putting Deeside on the back foot with a powerful pick and drive game. Deeside’s defence was committed but Orkney gained ground repeatedly with every drive and forced play to within metres of the home sides try line.
Deeside looked like they had no answer and were soon trailing by two tries. Nonetheless, an undeterred Deeside never showed any signs of relenting and slowly but surely began to get more of a grip on the game.
The first break for the home side came 27 minutes in when No. 8 Matthew Gordon powered over for a try right in the corner handing off the desperate attempts of the Orkney defenders. The first half concluded 5:10.
In the second half the unexpected September heat seemed to sap the Orcadians more than the Deesiders and with fly half Struan Gordon kicking well for territory the Orcadians started to find themselves backtracking repeatedly. Progressively the game shifted to playing more and more phases in the Orkney half. Deeside started to put pods of forwards to work well off the back of the rucks and it was now Orkneys turn to find themselves on the back foot. Once again Struan Gordon’s boot came into play but this time it was a grubber kick through the Orkney defence from 30 meters out that was decisive, chased through by the centres the ball bounced kindly straight into the hands of George Watt for Deesides second try, unconverted it was now 10:10 with just 15 minutes left to play.
It takes resolve and a great team spirit to win games where you come from behind and Deeside could now sense they had wrestled back control of this game. With continued pressure through the forwards with Alex Taylor, and Jordan McDonald leading the way they worked their way towards the Orkney try line several times.
The break came when Orkney loss possession in defence with a knock on and Deeside scrummed down on the Orkney 22. Deeside’s back line quickly shifted play, and Douglas Park used his pace to stretch the defence wide, as he was eventually tackled he a slick offloaded of the ball ensured an easy run in for full back Rafe Welsh who timed his support run well to give Deeside their third try.
Despite one or two dangerous looking runs from the island visitors, Deeside managed to contain Orkney for the final five minutes of the game and recorded a well-earned and well deserved 15:10 win. The next game will see Deeside travel to Elgin to play Moray.
Teams from Montrose, Moray, Mackie and Aberdeen Grammar travelled to Deeside to compete in this year’s pre-season U18 tens tournament.
The first games kicked off at 11.15 with Deeside versus Grammar and Moray versus Montrose.
Grammar quickly took the initiative against Deeside and with only six minutes gone the host side were two tries down, not the start they wanted. Deeside eventually settled and hit back just before half time to bring the score to 7-12. In the second half Deeside found their form and started to play the quick ball game they have been developing over the summer. Three Deeside tries followed all created by quick hands and quick realignment Deeside running out deserved winners 26-12.
Deeside faced Montrose next, who had just been beaten by Moray in the first round 24-5. Deeside switched the team around completely for this game but without upsetting the patterns of play. Montrose scored two good tries one in each half but Deeside made more effective use of space and the final score was 42-10.
The next two games were played between Mackie and Moray and Montrose and Grammar.
Mackie vs Moray was a close encounter indeed, both sides scored three tries each but Mackie converted two and Moray could manage only one conversion giving a win to Mackie 19-17. Grammar ran in seven tries in the other game, with Montrose only crossing the try line once for a final score of 45-7. Despite some torrential rain trying to put out the barbeque the teams were soon back in action again with Deeside versus Moray and Montrose versus Mackie. Deesides’ game plan again proved effective and Moray has no answer to seven tries scored against them, 32-0 the final score in that game. On the other pitch Montrose lost their final game to Mackie 45-7, but showed they have potential by scoring against every team in the competition, which only Grammar and Deeside matched.
The final game on pitch 2 between Moray and Grammar looked like it could have gone either way. In the first half both teams scored three tries a piece, though Grammar’s were all converted by drop goals as per Ten’s law, and Moray could only convert one.
The second half was a tighter defensive game on both sides but Grammar broke down Moray twice and Moray could only manage one try in return, the final score 24-30 to Grammar.
Only Mackie and Deeside had won all their games so far and the final game on pitch 1 saw these two teams compete in a fitting finale for the tournament trophy, last year won by Stirling County.
Deeside opened the scoring and by half time had stretched their lead to a three try 15-0. By the second half both teams seemed to have run out of steam and without further score Deeside were triumphant at the final whistle.
It was a great achievement for Deeside to win their own tournament which was played in good spirit by all teams throughout. Deeside scored a total of 21 tries out of the grand total of 68 tries that the spectators were treated to, they conceded only 4. They now need to build on this and the rest of the preseason preparation as they start in the Caledonian North 1 league with their first fixture at home at Banchory, Woodend to Mackie this Saturday, KO 1 pm, all welcome.
Thanks to all who contributed to the success of Deeside U18 Tens for a second year.
Deeside: Connor Bull, Matthew Gordon, Peter Lamont, Andrew Mullins, Alexander Taylor, Douglas Park, Struan Gordon, Matthew Hillier, Rafe Welsh, Patrick Nichol, Duncan Harle, Andrew Hardman, Matthew MacFarlane, George Watt, Luke Earle-Wright, Tom Christie (Captain), Sam Morris, Chris Long, Chris Ballantyne.