By Jane Cruickshank / November 25, 2019
Rugby Club sign

Match report by Ian Gray –

ROSS Gray led his Mackie Bears into battle against Ross Sutherland Stags on a grey and overcast day up in Invergordon. Mackie were looking for what would be their third win in a row, but their first away win of season 2019/20.

Early skirmishes saw the two teams test out the opposite defences, with both sides equal to the task and showing some aggressive tackling.

With almost 15 minutes on the clock, the deadlock was broken when a sweeping move from Mackie ended with a burst from Lyle Venters, taking him through for the opening try under the posts, giving Kyle Mair an easy conversion.
                                    ROSS SUTHERLAND 0 – 7 MACKIE
The Mackie defence was again put under pressure, but again stood firm and soon were on the offensive with Greg Hartley coming close to adding to the Mackie total.

That score was not long in coming however, when vice-captain Mikey Kelly, filling the fly-half position, forced himself over for a try which Kyle Mair again converted.
                                ROSS SUTHERLAND 0 – 14 MACKIE

If Mackie had grabbed the initiative up to this point, it was well and truly snatched from them by a determined Stags for the closing 10 minutes of the first half.

First, an exquisite cross-kick just evaded the grasp of Lyle Venters and was gathered by the opposition winger who scampered over for the first Ross Sutherland try.
                  ROSS SUTHERLAND 7 – 14 MACKIE

Worse was to come for Mackie, as just before the break another Stags try brought the half-time score to:
                    ROSS SUTHERLAND 14 – 14 MACKIE

The home side certainly felt that the tide had turned and that they were now on the ascendancy. They started the second period high on confidence and soon had crossed the whitewash again. This time there was no conversion, but the score was now
                   ROSS SUTHERLAND 19 – 14 MACKIE

The moment of truth had come. Roll over and die or return to playing simple, basic rugby. Thankfully it was the latter, and the ever-reliable Dean Gerrard forced over to bring the scores level.
                    ROSS SUTHERLAND 19 – 19 MACKIE

With less than 15 minutes to go, the game could have gone either way. Thankfully it was Mackie who held their nerve. They remained mostly on the offensive and when they were awarded a penalty close to the opposition line. Qick-thinking scrum-half Kyle Mair took a quick tap and was over in a trice. He easily converted his own try and Mackie had regained the lead.
                    ROSS SUTHERLAND 19 – 26 MACKIE

It was good to see ‘Moley’ have the confidence and sharpness to take his chance. Scrum-half may not be his first choice position, but he is growing into it, although he still needs to get his pass away from the base of the scrum without taking too many steps.

Mackie held on fairly comfortably for the final 10 minutes, keeping the play in the opposition half.

Another win, another try bonus point, and up to 3rd place in the league. A good afternoon’s work.

Reflecting on how the game acted out, and the season so far, worryingly, there seems to be a recurring theme developing. From 14 nil up to 19 – 14 down and then rallying to win 26 – 19.

This kind of game may be an exciting view for the unbiased spectator, but it doesn’t do a great deal for the blood pressure of the diehard Mackie support !!!

Mackie Squad :- 1.Fraser Macaulay   2.Finlay Stewart  3.James Sadio   4.Matthew Foster    5.Dean Gerrard   6.Iwan Kelly   7.Chris Ballantyne   8.Greg Hartley   9.Kyle Mair  10.Mikey Kelly(vice capt.)  11.Mikey Mair  12.Ross Gray(capt.) 13.Stuart Hamilton  14.Lyle Venters   15.Andy MacArthur   16.Rich Leadbetter   17.Gareth Walker    18.Jamie Lawrence   19.Ross Hartley   20.Kyle Duncan   21.Jon Wilson

Next week Mackie have a shorter journey, to Aberdeen, to play old adversaries Aberdeenshire at Woodside.

In Caledonia North League 2, the four games played on Saturday yielded 167 points, with 4 of the teams scoring 19 points. Only one of these teams (Highland 2nd XV) tasted victory.

As the report above shows Ross Sutherland’s 19 points couldn’t bring them success.

The other 2 teams Aberdeenshire and North Police shared 38 points in the first draw in the league this season.

          BANFF   5 – 19 HIGHLAND 2nd’s
          GRAMMAR 45 – 15 MORAY


                                P  W  L.  D     F       A     Diff     T.B.  L.B.    Pts
GRAMMAR 2nd’s         6   5   1   0   195   118     77       4      1        25
HIGHLAND 2nd’s         6   5   1   0   190   128    62       4      0       24
MACKIE                         6   3   3   0  148   150    -2        4      0       16
POLICE                         5    2   2   1   141    142    -1        4      1        15
MORAY                         5    2   3   0  133    142    -9       3      1        12
A’SHIRE                        5    1    3   1   111     131   -20      2      1         9
BANFF                          5    1    4   0  105    166  -61       2      1         4
ROSS SUTHERLAND  4    1    3   0   81     127   -46      1      1         3