Deeside U18s narrowly lost away to Dundee, but this could so easily have been a win and represented a further improvement in a series of very tough fixtures.
In recent weeks, Deeside had been slow to start and has had to play catch-up rugby after conceding early scores. This time, Deeside took the game to Dundee from the off.
A good hanging kick off by Sam Morris was well chased and Dundee dropped the ball. Quickly recycled possession allowed Deeside to put Dundee under pressure and a penalty was soon to follow. Malcolm Diack lined up the goal kick, but the wind pulled it wide.
Dundee had a strong wind behind them and now started to use this to gain territory and then to use their heavier pack to drive forward.
A half break took them into the Deeside 22 and the ball was recycled and the stretched defence could not prevent the try. The conversion followed.
This time, the restart was less successful and Dundee was able to launch their big forwards. However, strong tackling by flankers Murray Hoare and Tom Christie and stand-in second row Chris Ballantyne cut down the runners.
Whenever Deeside had possession, fly-half George Watt looked to move the ball but defenders were able to close down the outside backs in numbers.
There was little to choose between the sides until shortly before half time Deeside prevented a penalty from being taken quickly and Dundee kicked a penalty goal to turn round 10-0 up.
Again, Deeside were quick out of the blocks and immediately put Dundee under pressure.
It wasn’t long before a quickly taken penalty was passed to Calum Gordon, now at fly-half. His burst of pace and power burst through the defence and his run took Deeside deep into the Dundee half. The ball was cleared, but run back with smooth passing by Deeside backs until full back Sam Morris slid a grubber kick towards the line. George Watt was blocked in his follow up, but Dundee were back on their try line. The ball was fed to Calum Gordon, who again broke the defence but was brought down 5 metres short. However, he was not held and was able to regain his feet and crash over for the try. Malcom Diack added the conversion.
Almost immediately after the restart, Calum Gordon in midfield chipped the ball over the Dundee three-quarters. The kick was longer than intended, but Dundee’s full back fumbled and Calum following his own kick picked up the ball at boot level and claimed the try. With the conversion, Deeside were 14-10 up.
It was nip and tuck for most of the second half, but Deeside were holding their own with Harvey MacCauley in the centre strong in the tackle and turning over Dundee possession and props Scott Beattie and Melvin McAskill carrying well in open play. The Deeside scrum was under pressure, but No. 8 pick ups by Malcom Diack and sniping runs by scrum half Joe Grimble allowed Deeside to escape.
However, with five minutes to go Dundee advanced to Deeside’s 22. The ball should have been kicked clear, but was not and Dundee were able to claim possession and drive up to the try line. The defence was set but a dive at the feet of the guard claimed the try, which was duly converted.
There was still time for a midfield penalty to give Deeside a chance to respond, but the space behind the defence was not spotted and the game was lost.
Deeside team: M. McAskill, A. Hart, S. Beattie, C. Ballantyne, F. Gordon, M. Hoare, T. Christie, M. Diack, J. Grimble, G. Watt, L. Reid, H. MacCauley, C. Gordon, K. Dawson, S. Morris.