Spirited Deeside in cruise control

Chris Ballantyne drives through agains Moray
Chris Ballantyne drives through agains Moray

Pre-match preparation for this fixture was not ideal including a couple of unexpected no-shows amongst the forwards but Deeside adapted, with Chris Ballantyne coming into the front row, and John McGowan moving from the wing to flanker. Deeside took control right from the kick off and with play camped in the Moray half only ten minutes had been played before scrum half Sam Morris opened the scoring, receiving the ball from Captain Tom Christie picking up at No 8 from a scrum 20 meters out.

Although Deeside were playing into a variable wind good tactical kicking from fly half Struan Gordon kept the game mostly in the Moray half. Deeside were also more adept at moving the ball quickly into space and after threating to break several times, winger Chris Long eventually got around the outside of the Moray defence and in for the second score with just 18 minutes on the clock.

Throughout the game the forwards’ rucking was impressive with clean ball presentation in attack, and minimal numbers committed in defence, with Peter Lamont, Andrew Mullins, Connor Bull and John McGowan especially notable for their work rate and Chris Ballantyne seeming to be involved everywhere, despite the fact that he had been shifted from back row to front row.

Neither of the first half tries was converted and the two sides swapped ends at half time with Deeside leading narrowly 10-0.

One substitution at half time saw Jordan McDonald moved into the front row and Chris Ballantyne restored to his usual back row position.

Now playing with the breeze in their favour Deeside began to move the ball more quickly along the back line and the next break came from a line break from centre George Watt, whose form has been improving with every game, 15-0.

Moray, however, seemed determined not to let the game slip away from them and for a period of about 15 minutes they played their best rugby, eventually breaking through Deeside’s defence to score under the posts.

This took the score back to a competitive 15-7.

Deeside’s first reaction was to start forcing the game and as a result they were unable to string more than one phase of play together. Eventually under the leadership of Captain Tom Christie they steadied their game and realised they simply needed to retain possession and build phases to take control.

As they eventually regained composure three tries followed in quick succession, the first another for centre George Watt, the second from Tom Christie and the third from Chris Ballantyne, who was without doubt man of the match.

The final score of 36-7 reflected a convincing performance, and above all the team spirit that pervaded this game will make Deeside a difficult prospect for any team that has less of this most special ingredient.

Deeside: Liam Hutcheon, Chris Long, George Watt, John Crilly, John McGowan, Struan Gordon, Sam Morris, Jordan McDonald, Angus Hart, Peter Lamont , Alex Taylor, Andrew Mullins, Tom Christie, Chris Ballantyne, Connor Bull, Rafe Welsh, Andrew Hardman