Following a scrappy first half with Deeside U16 trailing 3-0 away to Moray in the Caledonia Cup quarter final, Deeside looked to be throwing away the opportunity to progress in this regional cup competition.
Deeside had plenty of first half possession and most of the territory, but couldn’t seem to string passes together, or progress through more than one phase of play. With a high penalty count against them, cracks were widening in Deeside’s play, and morale appeared to be ebbing away. The half time talk clearly worked because despite turning around into a stiff breeze, Deeside at last found some form. Receiving the restart from Moray, Deeside’s captain and hooker Angus Hart made off down the field and wasn’t stopped until just inside the Moray 22. The ball was recycled quickly out of the contact by scrum half Matthew Hillier and the move was finished by a strong run from Ollie Pickering, who had moved from full-back to centre. Unconverted, Deeside now had a narrow lead 3-5. Within minutes Deeside scored again, once again poor tackling allowed Deeside to get deep into Moray territory, and this time the quickly worked ball from the contact gave enough space for winger Lewis Reid to speed over for the try. George Watt stepped up for the conversion which sailed straight between the posts and Deeside moved into a more comfortable 12-3 lead. Moray were clearly shocked by the rapid fire response of Deeside compared to the disjointed performance in the first half and tried to raise their game to counter. Deeside’s forwards however, fielding six players who all turnout on occasion in the back row, ensured that the breakdown and contact area was made exceedingly difficulty for Moray, and if the ball wasn’t turned over by flankers Garran Sutton and Josh Gomez, and No.8 Chris Ballantyne, their driving play at the break down constantly put Moray onto the back foot. The back line also had now found more confidence and moves were executed without the silly dropped passes or knock-on’s that had summed up the first half. Duncan Harle, Kyle Dawson and Chris Long all now looked more confident with the ball in hand as they tried to stretch and probe the Moray defence. Sam Morris also began to find form distributing the ball more effectively and Deeside looked now to be well in control of a game that at half time looked to be running away from them. However, with only 14 minutes of the second half played the referee handed out a yellow card to Deeside when they attempted to get a Moray player to move out of the way as he was preventing quick ruck ball. This was a disappointing decision as the Deeside players had appealed repeatedly to the referee to take action against the Moray player and manage the situation, prior to attempting to ruck over him due to their frustration at the ignored infringement. With only 14 players on the pitch captain Hart motivated his team to raise their game another gear, and the following 10 minutes Deeside still kept the majority of possession and territory, even looking to score on one occasion when winger Kyle Dawson make a good break in limited space. Moray, were still switched on and looking for any way to get back into the game and when their prop took a quick penalty Deeside, rather than defend the attack, preferred to appeal to the ref that the ball had not left the props hands. Moray played on and good support lead to a try for Moray in the corner. Unconverted, the score now stood at 8-12. With everything still to play for Deeside’s response was immediate, the ball was regained from the restart, and some good inter-passing and ball retention saw Malcolm Diack close enough to the line to power his way over for a try. George Watt converted effortlessly and Deeside now restored to 15 players were back in full control. The final moments of the game were frustrating for both sides and the ref did well to manage the situation as tempers raised. The final score was 8-19 and a well deserved away win for Deeside who have now shown themselves that they can win games comfortably even without the four players who have been called up to the Caledonia squad, and this should boost their confidence.
Whatever happens in the semi-final, win or lose, Deeside will now take part in the finals day at Highland on April 10, playing for either the cup or the shield, along with Deeside U15 who have also qualified for finals day.
Club President John Colleran said: “It’s a great achievement to have both the U15’s and U16’s flying the Deeside flag on finals day.”
Deeside: Melvin McAskill, Angus Hart, Malcolm Diack, Joe Birdsey, Alex Taylor, Josh Gomez, Chris Ballantyne, Garran Sutton, Matthew Hillier, Sam Morris, Chris Long, George Watt, Lewis Read, John Honey, Kyle Dawson, Ollie Pickering, Duncan Harle.