Perthshire Rugby – Haddington Away Match Report
Big Improvement But Not Enough to Squeeze Shire Win
A month without a competitive game due to Christmas and the weather had both its positive and negative impacts on the Shire boys. It allowed many 1st team players to return, having been injured prior to Christmas, but it also meant rustiness could have set in. However, two very valuable training games against Harris and Glenrothes on the 4G pitch at St Andrews University made sure they had the best chance of avoiding that rustiness.
Shire travelled down to East Lothian to play Haddington with more match rugby than most have experienced recently but knew they would be up against a strong Haddington side who had won their previous 5 games to take them up to second in the table.
The Perth boys played with the wind in the first half and both teams started brightly, using the good conditions to throw the ball wide and attack. Perth soaked up some early Haddington pressure well but every time they cleared their lines they would lose the resulting lineout allowing Haddington to reapply the pressure.
Eventually Shire managed to string some phases of play together in the Haddington half and when they did that they looked threatening. Zac Zropf, having got over his injury problems, was providing a spark to an exciting Perth Backline. A sustained period in the Haddington half resulted in a penalty for Shire which Graeme Clow slotted between the uprights.
The next 5 minutes were all Haddington as they kept Shire pinned in their own half. Some good forward carry’s before some swift interplay in the backs allowed them to squeeze over close to the posts leaving a straightforward conversion which was successful, to leave them leading 7-3 with around 10 minutes to go in the first half.
The topsy turvey nature of the match continued as Perth re-established dominance from the kick off and after a huge number of phases, in what has to be one of Perthshire’s best worked tries of the season, an overlap was created out wide to let Matt Rae scamper in at the corner. Clow missed the conversion leaving the score at 8-7. However, Clow had a chance to redeem himself almost immediately as Haddington infringed at a ruck and the Perth centre stepped up to slot the 3 points right on the stroke of half time.
Half Time Score 11 -7
The second half began as the first ended with Shire coming out the stronger. Some fantastic passing from Zropf and Clow in the midfield continually released the outside backs who made yards every time but could not quite get over the whitewash. A series of lineouts close to the Haddington line failed to produce any points. Credit must go to Haddington for their defence in the first 20 minutes of the second half as Perth threw everything at them only to be denied by the last man.
Haddington finally managed to get some territory and with it some possession to relieve the pressure and when Shire conceded a penalty they made sure of the 3 points leaving it a 1 point game at 11-10. It was now their turn to camp themselves in the opposition half and look for, what seemingly was going to be, the match winning try. Shires defence held strong until one missed tackle close to the line allowed Haddington to crash over under the sticks leaving an easy conversion taking the score to 17-11 with 10 minutes to go.
A sense of desperation saw shire fling the ball about and with it came some territory but also some mistakes forced by the ever onrushing red wall of Haddington. When a penalty was awarded to Perth right in front of the posts with 6 minutes to go Captain Pattinson was faced with a tricky decision. He chose to take the 3 points leaving the score line at 17-14.
Perthshire threw everything at it over the last 6 minutes but despite some great interplay and running rugby between backs and forwards they couldn’t get back within the oppositions 22 and when the refs whistle went it signalled the end of the game and another disappointing loss. The first 20 minutes in the second half when Shire had all the pressure but couldn’t produce any points was where the game was lost but there were a lot of positives to take from the game into next week’s trip away to Irvine.
Full Time 17-14
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