Strathmore 1st XV hosted Hillfoots in the Caledonia Shield Cup game on Saturday at Inchmacoble Park.
The perfect weather conditions should have allowed for a good fast flowing game of rugby and with a strong home crowd down to support the men in black, the supporters must have wondered what was happening with lots of handling errors early on from both teams.
Hillfoots were first to put points on the board with a penalty in front of the posts with only three minutes on the clock.
It wasn’t long before Fraser Cameron had Strathie in front though with a quick ball from the scrum, through the hands and Cameron scored in the corner, 5-3 Strathmore.
Strathie were dominating the scrums following Hillfoots big prop leaving the field injured and things were looking up for the home team as Darren Bell broke through but was denied a try with a last ditch tackle from the Hillfoots full back.
The remaining 20 minutes of the first half were frustrating to watch with knock ons and dropped balls from both teams and to compound the misery Strathie lost centre Colin Strachan late in the first half with a hamstring injury, with head coach Stewart Ross replacing him.
Hillfoots were awarded a penalty right in front of the posts for a high tackle but much to the relief of the home team they missed it and the referee brought the first half to an end at 5-3.
Following a rousing half time team talk from coach Chris Webster, Strathie started brightly with Lee Alexander making a good break and setting up a ruck in front of Hillfoots posts, a quick ball through the hands to the backs out left allowed Rory Collins to score Strathmore’s second try of the game which was converted by Struan Robertson.
Struan also added a penalty to make it 15-6 following a scrappy passage of play in which both teams were awarded penalties.
It was fast becoming the Struan Robertson show as he then scored Strathie’s third try following good play from the Inchmacoble forwards allowing Fraser Mackay to chip the ball over Hillfoots’ defence and with a kindly bounce Robertson collected well and scored in the corner for 20-6.
Hillfoots were not giving up and were on the attack from the restart, with three missed tackles from the home team they soon reduced the deficit with a converted try to make it 20-13 on 70 minutes. The home supporters were in for a nail biting finish to the game but they needn’t have worried as quick thinking from a penalty tap and go allowed Fergus Mitchell who had ran a good line to score Strathie’s fourth try of the day duly converted by Fraser Mackay.
Strathie started to play much better in the dying minutes as the fans know they can and it was Mike Black’s turn to crash over the whitewash with Fraser Mackay adding the conversion to make it 34-13.
With the clock on 79 minutes and 30 seconds Strathmore were safe in the game and could easily have kicked the ball in to touch from the restart however it was caught deep in their half, carried forward and passed out through the backs to winger Darren Bell who scored the last try of the game, McKay bringing Strathie’s total to 41 for day with the conversion.
Final Score was 41-13.
Head Coach Stewart Ross commented on the victory: “Some great play in the first and last 10 minutes with frustrating errors in between, we had a number of younger players stepping up and playing new positions with Mike Black standing out at No.3, also scoring on his debut, and our man of the match Struan Robertson also impressed with some great attacking play from 15.
“The boys will have to cut out the errors in what will be a tough game against league leaders Gordonians next weekend.”
The men in black next face Gordonians.