Dyce 6 – 22 Shetland
On a day more suited to building snowmen a strong but small crop of players, along with a few supporters, travelled to play West Dyce. Shetland were hoping to avenge a narrow defeat in the same fixture last year and continue to build on their fantastic home win the previous week. RJ Anderson, captain Kristian Fraser and Craig Mann made up the front row with youngster Harry Morton and debutant Chris Cuis in the engine room. Jon Pulley, Stewart Mouat and Matthew Nicolson made up the back row with Alistair McMillan and Callum Williamson continuing as the half-back pairing following an impressive performance last week. Maurice Williamson returned to the centres and was partnered by Stuart Gray with Daniel Gray and Tom Laing on the wings and Paul Grant completing the line up at full back. James Sinclair was the sole substitute on the day.
Shetland elected to kick off but, unfortunately for C. Williamson, the conditions prohibited his usual hanging kick. However, his bobbled attempt was knocked on giving Shetland an immediate scrum inside Dyce’s half. A good pick up from Nicolson at number 8 gained Shetland more ground before McMillan spun the ball out to the backs where Grant was on felled by a high tackle and Shetland were awarded a penalty out wide. Grant elected to kick and his boot had the distance but unfortunately not the direction as it drifted just wide. It was not long before Shetland got another penalty from a similar distance but this time it was in the centre of the pitch. Finding his accuracy, Grant slotted away the penalty with ease to put Shetland ahead with just over five minutes played.
Going behind seemed to bring Dyce to life and the home team were taking it to Shetland. The away defence held firm and the first-up tackles were being made again. The pressure inevitably told as Dyce’s patient build-up earned themselves a penalty inside Shetland’s 22 in the centre of the posts. The Dyce kicker slotted the penalty away to draw level after 20 minutes on the clock.
C. Williamson’s kick off this time was right on the money and a great chase from Mouat and Nicolson put pressure on the catcher and the ball was knocked forward again. The scrum was as solid as ever and the ball found its way to the backs. Grant offloaded out the tackle to Laing but the winger was unfortunately tackled into touch.
Shetland had been dominant in the line-out and despite Dyce managing to secure the ball the pressure on the kicker resulted in the clearance failing to find touch as McMillan fielded the ball well. The scrum half instigated a counter attack as he found Grant infield who gained a large amount of ground before passing to M. Williamson on his outside. This inside centre ran over a would-be tackler before passing out wide to Gray. Sadly the winger was forced into touch before the try line could be crossed.
The resultant Dyce line-out was not straight so Shetland opted for a scrum inside the home 22. McMillan took the blues within ten metres of the line with an opportunistic run after the ball shot out of the back of the scrum. Pulley then took the ball up another few metres with a good pick and drive with Anderson. With the scrum half tied up, C. Williamson looked to step in but spotted a gap in the defence and exploited it. The fly half dived over the line to score his first try for Shetland. From a difficult position, Grant completed the conversion giving Shetland a bit of breathing space.
Cuis caught the restart well and ran at the Dyce defence, managing to break a tackle before offloading to Mouat who gained more yardage for Shetland. Eyeing up a gap in the defence, Mann took a pop pass off C. Williamson around the halfway line and glided through the defence with ease. A covering winger took down the big man just inside the 22 but McMillan was on hand for the offload from the deck. He was then well tackled and in during so, the ball was dislodged and the referee awarded a scrum to Dyce for a knock on.
From the scrum, the home side elected to kick the ball downfield but it was well fielded by Gray on the wing. Again, Grant received the inside pass but this time the full back put a kick of his own up for the opposing full back to deal with. Dyce’s 15 caught the ball well and used his pace to run away from a diving tackle from Nicolson. Unfortunately for him, he ran straight into the path of Mann, his text book tackle allowed Shetland to turn the ball over and a break by M. Williamson brought him inside the Dyce 22 before offloading to Morton who broke the gain line before his pass was knocked forward by Cuis. The referee brought an entertaining half to an end with Shetland 10-3 ahead.
Captain Fraser drilled into the heads of the team that they were cruising and would have to go up it through the gears as Shetland had Dyce for the beating. Sinclair was brought on into the second row at half time for Anderson after a solid shift and Cuis moved to prop. Sinclair was involved straight away by catching the restart and offloading it to Nicolson who took the ball at pace taking two men to put a stop to his rampaging run. Mann managed to recycle the ball and gain some more ground for Shetland, bringing them well over the half way line. The ball eventually found its way out to the backs with S. Gray handing off a tackle attempt before passing out wide to his namesake Daniel who was deemed to be in touch when receiving the pass.
Dyce managed to exhort a little pressure onto Shetland but the ‘blue café’ was not open for business as the away side were determined to live up to the wishes of their coaching team and not to concede a try for the second successive week. Despite Shetland’s defence holding Dyce in check the home side gained a penalty right in front of the posts after M. Williamson was penalised for handling in the ruck. The home kicker was successful and narrowed Shetland’s lead to 10-6.
Shetland continued to dominate at line-outs and scrums and ten minutes into the second half, Nicolson secured ball against the throw and the forwards drove a maul into Dyce’s half before McMillan passed the ball out to the backs. Dyce were playing a blitz defence so C. Williamson decided to turn them around with a grubber kick in behind. The opposing winger slid to retrieve the ball and popped it up to his own full back. Not expecting it, the ball bounced off him and kindly into the arms of the oncoming M. Williamson who outpaced the rest of the defence to touch down under the posts. Grant added the extras to increase Shetland’s lead to 17-6.
Shetland kept the pressure on from the kick off with Morton gathering and passing to Mouat. Falling for his trademark dummy pass the opposition parted like the Red Sea and the flanker streaked downfield before being tackled just outside the Dyce 22. Due to the wintry condition many players were finding it impossible to keep their footing and unfortunately for Shetland the referee penalised them for going off their feet at the ruck, giving Dyce a penalty. Their kicker managed to find touch safely up field and temporarily relieve what was now constant pressure.
By the 60 minute mark, Shetland had scored their third try through the in-form Grant. After a number of sound phases from the forwards, the away team found themselves in the centre of the pitch. With options either side, McMillan opted to go right to M. Williamson who burst through the gain line before offloading to Grant. The powerful full back brushed aside a tackler before cruising in to score his third try in two games in the corner. He was unlucky with the conversion from a wide angle and Shetland remained on 22 points.
The referee blew the final whistle on the game with Shetland victorious 22-6. This was another great team performance from Shetland with the forwards dominating at scrums and, particularly, line-outs. The backs were terrific in defence and with better conditions more moves may have been used but all in all, another brilliant result for Shetland as they begin to slowly climb the table.
Mann, Nicolson and Cuis were the stand outs for the forwards with McMillan, Grant and M. Williamson impressive for the backs – the latter doing exceptionally well to play the second half with what appeared to be a dislocated knuckle.
The Northwards man of the match was shared by Craig Mann for direct running and big tackling and Alistair McMillan for terrific passing and commanding the pack throughout.
Shetland continue their quest for success tomorrow away to Huntly. This fixture always seems to be a good contest so hopefully Shetland can build on their last couple of results to come back with the win.
Training continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays commencing at 6.30pm at Clickimin. All players, new or old, are very welcome to attend. Shetland RFC would like to thank Northlink and the rest of their sponsors for their kind and continued support.