BT WEST DIVISION 1
SATURDAY 31ST MARCH
OBAN LORNE 64-15 HELENSBURGH
Oban Lorne welcomed Argyll rivals Helensburgh RFC to Glencruitten on Saturday in what was a must win game for the Greenmachine in the battle against relegation. Helensburgh sat bottom of the table on -4 points going into the game while Oban were 12 points ahead sitting 11th. A win would narrow the gap on fellow relegation candidates Irvine and Cambuslang who both had tough fixtures over the weekend.
Coach Corrie Louw was able to field a very strong starting XV. The only first choice players missing from action were scrum half Finlay Carmichael and back row Richard MacKay.
Local referee Willie Malone was in charge for the day and would have a busy afternoon ahead in a high scoring game.
The home side dominated territory and possession in the opening exchanges of the game but could not find a cutting edge to create and opening try. A Craig Wright penalty was missed after 10 minutes as Oban managed to build some good pressure near the line.
Oban’s first try of the game came on 12 minutes as some good play in the 22 resulted in a Tommy Sutherland offload near the line finding powerful winger Calum MacLachlan who touched down with ease. Captain, Wright made amends for his penalty miss by scoring a tricky conversion for a 7-0 lead.
Helensburgh improved after their shaky start and found good territory from dangerous runs by their outside centre and fullback. Connor Ferris strayed offside in the 22 allowing ‘Burgh’ to narrow the lead to 7-3 with a penalty attempt.
Calum MacLachlan was looking very dangerous on the left wing and was attracting significant interest from a worrying defence. MacLachlans trademark powerful play gifted his side some good territory eventually resulting in a 5 metre scrum. Oban’s strong pack drove the ball close to the line looking certain to score. Referee Malone decided that Helensburgh had prevented a certain try by knocking the ball out of Corrie Louws hands and awarded Oban a penalty try , 14-3.
Oban were well on top in the game and scored their third try of the game after 25 minutes. David McLaughlin had a fantastic run from halfway to put Oban 21-0 ahead with another Wright conversion.
Despite being comfortably ahead Oban were still a little rusty in some areas of play. Notably the teams tackling was not upto sufficient standard as Helensburgh breached the gain line on too many occasions. Credit must be given to the away side who attacked well at times and hit back with their first try of the day on 30 minutes to narrow Oban’s lead to 21-10.
Craig Wright responded immediately for his team as the fullback raced in from 20 meters out after some good build-up play from a strong scrum. This sealed the bonus point try and a healthy 28-10 lead.
The Greenmachine looked to add to their lead before the break but were undone with some sloppy lineout play which had in general been a negative area of the teams play.
Oban made a storming start to the second half and added to their tally within the first 20second off the kick off. Calum MacLachlan made Helensburgh pay for a lapse in defence as the winger ran in from 35 meters giving what was now handsome 35-10 lead.
Helensburgh though refused still to let this dampen their spirits and hit back straight away with another well worked try narrowing the lead briefly to 35-15.
With only 5 minutes gone in the half the third try arrived, again for Oban as Stand Off Iwan Rhys Roberts scored his first try for the club. At 42-15 ahead Oban could now relax a little, something they have not been able to do any game so far this season.
Oban’s shaky lineout play was improving into the second half, that along with a strong scrum gave an excellent base to attack from. Helensburgh were reduced to 14 men briefly with their fullback lying injured. Craig Wright capitalised on this by kicking into the vacant space putting pressure on the ‘Burgh’ winger who knocked on allowing Wright to dive over for his second score of the day.
Another try followed with Prop Connor Ferris diving over from close range , 54-15 to Oban Lorne.
As the half wore on tiredness creeped in . Changes were made with Andrew’s Johnston and MacDougall coming of the bench replacing Connor Ferris and Lorne MacLachlan while Daniel Kemp replaced Radi Maksimov. Jonathan Sayer also came on for Jack Strachan in the second row.
The quality of the game went downhill as it wore on. The majority of play was in midfield with some handling errors creeping in for both teams.
Oban scored two further tries in the closing stages to run out convincing 64-15 winners. First Inside Centre Jamie Bate sailed through a huge gap in the defence to score his first try since returning from injury. The last try came late on as a result of a driving maul close to the line. Player/ Coach Corrie Louw touched down to seal a very handsome victory for the men in Green.
Saturday’s win gifts Oban 5 points meaning the gap to Irvine RFC has been reduced to 5 points. Cambuslang are not far off, 6 points ahead. Oban Lorne have game sin hand on the teams above them and have a few ‘winnable’ matches coming up between now and the end of the season.
The task remains a tough one for Oban Lorne who this weekend welcome league leaders Carrick RFC. The teams met only two weeks ago with an understrength Oban going down 87-18. Saturdays game will likely be played at North Connel to give Oban Lorne Ladies the best possible pitch conditions for their National Bowl Semi Final on Sunday, Kick off 3pm.
- Sutherland, R. Maksimov, C. Louw, J. Baxter, J. Strachan, L. MacLachlan, S. Povey,
- Borisov, I. Rhys Roberts, D. McLaughlin, J. Bate, G. MacEachan, C. MacLachlan, C. Wright
- Johnston, A. MacDougall, J. Sayer, A. Houston, D. Kemp