West Region U18 Bowl Final
Oban Lorne welcomed Dumfries Saints to Glencruitten on Saturday, the Saints had made the long journey up and kick off was pushed back to 2:30pm on a great day for Rugby.
The Oban team led by Kieron Morrison and Euan Shearer were missing captain Lorne Sinclair as he was racing in the Bristish Quad Championshihp but their number had been bolstered by the addition of a number of players from Lochaber Rugby club since Christmas and all the replacements would be required in what was sure to be a tough competition.
A vocal support had turned out to support the 18’s as Willie Malone got the game underway. Oban received the kick off and utilised their forwards to break the Saints line defence. Craig Cook and Euan Shearer were proving difficult to stop and Oban held much of the possession in the opening exchanges. When Dumfries got the ball they looked sharp and the full back caused problems when running in the loose. Excellent tackling from Finn Charlton and David Cameron halted Dumfries but an early Penalty 30m out gave them the opportunity to take the lead.
The penalty was kicked and Dumfries took the lead 3-0. Oban then got in to the swing of things and applied lots of pressure in the defence, leading to a number of knock ons by the Saints who were still trying to get the journey out of their legs. Oban knew they had to capitalise on the slow start and it was David Cameron who was causing problems in the centre. James Divers was making good ground at 10 and feeding Cameron, Cook and Morrison with the offloads. The forwards were knocking on the door and twice the Oban team were judged to be held up over the line.
The pressure paid off as Kieron Morrison was able to open the scoring for Oban, Andrew Ritchie added the extra points making it 7-3 for Oban. Oban received the restart and went back to work; strong running from Divers at stand off and the centres of Jack Hamilton and David Cameron were linking well. A kick chase from Cameron resulted in a bad injury and he was forced to retire early. Coaches Gordon Shearer and Murray Hamilton were forced to make the changes around the park to accommodate the loss of Cameron. Oban again were keeping possession and making the most of the ball. Dumfries were starting to look dangerous but knock ons and the Oban defence were keeping them at bay. A great drive from the forward pack created space on the right wing and Morrison popped up to get the back and made a 20 yard break getting over the line for a second score. Ritchie converted the points; the score now 14-3 to the home side.
Some big defensive hits from Dumfries closed out the half and Charlton was forced to leave for a blood injury which was a big blow for the Oban pack. Alasdair Lilley stepped up and was playing his best game of the season; Stuart MacQueen from Lochaber and Ian Barlow proved solid at the Scrum which provided a good platform for Sandy Bavington and Divers to launch the oban attack.
It was a different start to the second half with a much changed starting 15 the Oban team found themselves under pressure. Dumfries started to click and the journey was clearly long forgotten about; this time it was Oban who had to put in the defensive cover; a number of kicks were fielded well by the back three of Ritchie, Fulford and Gordon. Angus Moss was working well at the breakdown to secure possession for Oban but Dumfries were experienced and gained a number of penalties by beating Oban to the tackle. The pressure on Oban was high and a missed timed kick from our own line provided the opportunity for the Saints to strike a blow. They recovered the ball and despite the best efforts of the defence Dumfries were able to score again and covert 14-10 to Oban.
This was now proving a real test for the Oban team and players across the park stepped up, Stuart MacQueen had a great solo break, supported by Craig Cook and Kieron Morrison. It was Morrison who made the final yards before being able to offload to Angus MacLeod who powered over for Obans third try. It was Ritchie again who stepped up and made the conversion 21-10.
Dumfries rallied in the final 10 minutes of the games and nerves were showing from the Oban players. Changes were made and the time it took to settle allowed Dumfries to get the upper hand. Penalties at the break down allowed Saints to get in to the Oban 22 where they were able to sneak in at the corner to score. 21-15 now with the conversion from the touchline; the kick was a great effort but just sailed under the bar. With only 2 minutes left on the clock Oban had to restart and give the ball back to the Saints then defend for their lives. The young Green machine held their composure and an excellent turn over by Euan shearer gave the Oban side possession. Still requiring to run the clock down the young team showed great composure with Moss, MacLeod, Shearer and Cook all taking the ball in and keeping things tight; a break down the left wing opened up and Oban took their chance to finish the game but a knock on halted proceedings. However that was enough and Mr Malone called full-time and the Oban team celebrated a much deserved victory against a very powerful Dumfries side.
Man of the match for the day was Kieron Morrison who surely has caught the eye of the senior coaches watching that match. A number of these players will now go on to represent the 1st XV. “The coaches are extremely proud of how hard the boys have worked all season and their level of commitment is second to none. I am delighted for them. I’d also like to thank the new shirt sponsors “stoddarts” and the volunteers at the club and the grounds staff who made this pitch perfect for the match today.” Said Murray Hamilton (U18’s coach) when summing up the event.
Sandy Rokitta, Oban Lorne president was on hand to present the team with a trophy from the SRU. We would like to thank Dumfries for making the long journey up to Oban. The season is now finished for the 18’s, and it has finished on a high. Hopefully we will see these boys playing 1st XV rugby in the near future