Oban Lorne 43-12 Strathaven
Tennents West Regional Shield Qualifying Round
Saturday 18th August
Oban Lorne welcomed Strathaven RFC to Glencruitten on Saturday for the West Regional Shield Qualifier. This is the first of three meetings this season as Strathaven are also in Oban’s league West Division 2
Oban had a strong squad following on from their success in last week’s Tower 10’s tournament and were looking to make a statement to the rest of the league by laying down a marker for the season.
The Greenmachine started brightly and were quickly on the front foot but the old habits of previous seasons of attacking too close to the rucks were allowing Strathaven to contest well and turnover ball and they held onto it through a number of phases of their own without really trying the Oban defence.
The first score of the game came when new club captain Iwan Rhys Roberts latched onto a great pass and sprinted through a yawning gap to score under the posts. This was a relief all round as he had been doubtful right upto kick off with a muscle strain. This was promptly converted by Finlay Carmichael.
Oban then became a penalty machine as no fewer than 15 penalties were given away around the ruck, which saw Oban marched back a further 20 metres for answering back to referee. This was crazy given the warning the team had been given from the official before the game. This was a warning that was ignored as the referee was soon to send sin bin Liam Burns after only 60 seconds on the pitch for an alleged high tackle another area that the referees are clamping down on this season.
Oban did well to withstand this spell of pressure and they were soon on the scoreboard again with Craig Wright dancing down the touchline from an opposition drop out 22. Wright then doubled his tally when straight from the kick off a great kick off reception allowed Oban to shift the ball wide early for Wright to sprint clear from inside his own 22 to score at the other end..
To their credit Strathaven came right back at Oban and still enjoying the extra man advantage they continued to pressure the Oban defence. Again Poor discipline was to be the Oban’s down fall as a failure to clear away from the tackle area resulted in Strathaven being able to kick the ball into the corner and score from a rolling maul off their lineout which had been poorly defended by Oban. This brought an end the scoring to an enjoyable first half with Oban leading 17 -5. The men in Green could have gone a further try clear before the break as Callum Murrays effort was disallowed due to a slightly forward pass.
Oban were quick to find their stride in the 2nd half with new Oban High PE teacher Callum Murray flying in for another score after being released by some great work in the midfield. This was again well converted by Finlay Carmichael.
Strathaven were struggling to cope with the speed of play of the Oban backs and the back row who were all quite exceptional on the day. Flankers Matt Walker and Daniel Speirs were a thorn in their side all day winning a number of contests at the breakdown while newly appointed Vice Captain Stephen Povey was a strong and able ball carrier all day long. Young Daniel Speirs was eventually selected as the Man of the Match for his display .
Craig Wright was soon to claim his hat trick of tries with another scything run down the flanks. The ability to release him from full back was really paying dividends as they just could not match his electric pace. Oban are carrying a number of threats in their backline this season and are going to cause a lot of problems.
Next up on the scoreboard was Radi Maksimovthe Bulgarian international Hooker who was revelling in the freedom given to him in the new system to hang out wide on the wing. This allowed him to use his pace to beat the cover defence after another fantastic piece of multiphase play.
Oban fell asleep for the next five mins or so and gifted Strathaven another soft try from a quick tap penalty when the defence was flatfooted and allowed the Centre to crash through a gap that just shouldn’t have been there. Oban will have to work hard to cut out these minor errors and lapses in concentration.
Callum Murray was the next to cross the line for Oban with another opportunistic try after a fantastic break from Calum McLachlan. The big fella playing his first game in his new role of prop broke the Strathaven defence from his own 10 metre line and looked like he might go all the way but was dragged down just yards from the line, the offload was knocked backwards over the line by a Strathaven hand and The flying winger was on hand to pounce and score his 2nd try of the day.
This brought the final score to Oban Lorne 43 Strathaven 12 a good victory to start the season. The Oban coaching team were delighted with the majority of the performance but realise that there are a number of areas which still need to be tightened up for the season ahead.
There are a number of players back in the mix this weekend and it is great to have options available across the park. With good numbers at training everyone knows that they are going to have to earn their slot in the starting lineup.
This weekend Oban host old foes Annan in the next round of the West shield before Starting their league campaign the following week at home to Cumbernauld. Saturdays fixture with Annan is due to kick off at 3pm.