Deeside U18s met Perthshire in the National Bowl semi-final and gave a committed performance, but fell just short of a place in the Murrayfield final.
The Perth pitch was heavy going after the frequent showers, but this did not prevent both sides from playing open attacking rugby.
The first chance to score fell to Perthshire, when Deeside were penalised for offside, but the penalty was pushed wide.
It was Deeside, however, who opened the scoring with a well worked try. At a breakdown in play the ball was hurriedly transferred to fly-half Sam Morris who was under pressure from the defence, but caught and passed in one action to centre John Crilly who also rapidly moved the ball on to full back Nick Harper. He found himself unmarked and accelerated clear to score under the posts. Malcolm Diack added the conversion.
Slowly, Perthshire began to make territorial gains. They had a large pack of forwards and made progress through launching wave after wave of heavy ball carriers pulling in defenders before spreading the ball wide in the backs, to exploit the gaps.
Deeside’s tackling was solid and time and again flankers Rob Hessell and Tom Christie got their hands on the ball to turn over possession. However, the referee was very quick to declare the ruck formed and to penalise Deeside, or to penalise Deeside for stepping offside trying to cut off attacks.
Two such penalties allowed Perthshire to pull back the score. Deeside too had their attacks, the best of which saw Tobias Cochrane Dyet step outside his opposing centre for a clean break, before passing on to Nick Harper and then to wing Harvey Macaulay, who was finally tackled well into the Perthshire half. The teams turned round with Deeside narrowly leading 7-6.
The second half did not start as Deeside would have wanted. The kick off was not caught and Perthshire regained possession. Then a dog-legged defensive line gave enough of a gap for a clear run to the try line and Deeside found themselves behind.
A further try was conceded when the Perthshire forwards drove forward in a series of drives which committed too many Deeside defenders and Perthshire exploited an overlap out wide.
Nevertheless, captain Angus Wallace rallied his team and Deeside kept playing, with Tom Christie and Fraser Gordon claiming good possession in the line out and fly half Sam Morris working a series of wrap around moves which allowed him to put outside backs into space. In defence, Melvin McAskill held up an attacker over the try line, Chris Ballentyne playing out of position on the wing showed time and again how to tackle around the ankles, while Harvey Macaulay on the other wing came flying in with a tackle the Perthshire coaches were still admiring back in the clubhouse.
However, Deeside’s tackling was less robust when a penalty kick to touch fell short and was caught by the Perthshire left wing. Running within the tramlines, he sidestepped two defenders one after another and then out-paced two further defenders to score in the corner.
Another penalty completed Perthshire’s scoring, when Malcolm Diack was shown a yellow card for giving more advice to the referee than he wanted, but Deeside was not prepared to give up and from a catch at a line out drove Perthshire back. This time, it was Perthshire being caught offside. A kick to the corner and another drive took the forwards close. Another penalty was tapped quickly by Sam Morris, who got within inches of the tryline before setting the ball back. It was quickly recycled and fed out to John Crilly who cut back to an undefended blindside to claim the try.
The score was well deserved, but Deeside had no time to add to it and the dream of a final at Murrayfield was over.
Deeside: M. McAskill, A. Hart, A. Wallace, S. Beattie, F. Gordon, R. Hessell, T. Christie, M. Diack, J. Grimble, S. Morris, H. Macaulay, J. Crilly, T. Cochrane-Dyet, C. Ballentyne, N. Harper, S. Inglis.