After qualifying for the National Cup as champions of Caledonia North-east, Deeside U18 were drawn against Kilmarnock who qualified as one of the top teams from Glasgow and the West of Scotland. This was always going to be a tough game for Deeside as the team had not been able to play since the middle of November, due to the harsh winter and there is only a limited amount of preparation possible when training indoors.
The overhead conditions were good, but the Tillybrake pitch was very heavy. The game started at a fast pace, with both sides attempting launch attacks. It was Deeside who scored first, when after a series of drives by the forwards including a couple of storming runs by Callum Ferguson, Kilmarnock conceded a penalty around the edge of the 22. This was kicked by William Tubby to give a 3-0 lead. Kilmarnock’s massive pack responded by starting to put massive pressure on the Deeside scrum, although props George Moody and Scott Beattie showed tremendous determination and limited the damage. The lineout was more productive with Murray Hoare regularly targeting jumpers Jack Duncan and Harris Stevenson-Robb. However Kilmarnocks’ pressure did result in two penalties out wide on their left, both of which were very well kicked by their scrum half to give them a 6-3 lead.
It was Deeside who finished the half the stronger, with a strong run by Martin Judt on the left wing which was stopped close to the Kilmarnock line. This followed by an attack on the right when centre Nick Harper made a break, but a desperate defensive tackle just prevented him from releasing a scoring pass to Calum Gordon.
The second half started with the same intensity and it was to be Kilmarnock who scored again when Deeside infringed at a ruck straight in front of the posts for a 9-3 lead. Going further behind seemed to spur Deeside on in raising their game and for the first time they started control the game with the backrow, consisting of Charlie Grimble, Robert Hessell and Malcolm Diack, dominant at the breakdown. It allowed William Tubby, Cameron Knott and Nick Harper to make attacking breaks. The pressure told when William Tubby kicked a further penalty to close the gap to 9-6. Deeside continued to crank up the pressure although Kilmarnock were still dangerous and produced an attacking break that was stopped by a superb tackle by Olly Pickering.
Deeside continued to press and launched a series of attacks close to the Kilmarnock line. Kilmarnock were penalised on several occasions for killing the ball but Deeside spurned the opportunity to kick for goal instead they went for a match winning try. Eventually Kilmarnock did break the siege although they did concede a further penalty on their 10 metre line which William Tubby just pushed wide. Further attacks by Deeside were just stifled by some superb defensive work by Kilmarnock who almost scored an interception try themselves in the dying minutes, which was only prevented by a desperate tackle by Calum Gordon.
Kilmarnock managed to hold on to win by 9-6 in a match that was very competitive, physically hard and exciting. Despite the ferocity and importance of the match it was always played in good spirit. The players should be proud that a team comprising players from a few Deeside villages are able to compete with the best teams in Scotland.
Beattie, Hoare, Moody, Ferguson, Stevenson-Robb, Duncan, Hessell, Diack, Taylor, Tubby, Gordon, Knott, Harper, Judt, Pickering, Fraser, Grimble (Charlie), Bruce, Hart, Cochrane-Dyet, Davis, Grimble (Joe), Andrews, Loughney