Mackie U18 concluded their 15-a-side season with a hard fought, but well deserved victory in the Caledonia League Shield Final over local rivals Grammar in Inverness.
The weather was atrocious as Mackie took to the field on Sunday, with freezing temperatures and driving snow in their faces, and with the pitch in less than perfect condition the game was never going to be one for slick handling and exciting back play. It was definitely one for the forwards to grind out.
Mackie started slowly and were outmanoeuvred twice by Grammar early on, conceding two early tries within 10 minutes. However Mackie got a lucky break soon after, when the Grammar full back was unable to field a well-placed chip and chase by Elphinstone, who capitalized on the error and managed to toe the ball over the line and get the touch down just under the posts, which he duly converted.
Mackie’s second try came shortly afterwards, when despite the wind and snow, they managed to get the ball out to winger Hay, who left his opposite number for dead to score in the corner.
Mackie’s lineout and scrum were dominant throughout the whole game, and it was from a lineout five metres from Grammar’s goal line that Mackie scored their third try. Grammar threw in, but the scrum half was unable to get the ball secured and spilled it just short of the try line. Mackie second row forward Dunbar was quickest to react, scooping the ball up and diving over for a try, taking Mackie into the half time interval 17 – 12 ahead.
After the re-start Mackie had the wind at their backs, but it was Grammar who were quickest off the blocks, forcing Mackie back towards their own goal line and into conceding an easily kickable penalty.
A bright period of play from the forwards re-cycled the ball time and time again, sucking in the Grammar defence, which winger Hay was quick to exploit for his second try of the match. Once again Grammar pushed forward and it wasn’t too long before they had scored a converted try themselves, bringing the score even at 22-22 going into the final nerve-racking ten minutes.
Mackie however, have not won their league undefeated by not knowing how to fight to the final whistle and they finally started to play like the champions they are, and with captain Kelly leading from the front, they started to dominate in every part of the game. Man of the match, scrum half Cadger, managed to close out the game with accurate and well-timed passes, leading to further tries from Cavan and Hay.
rammar did all they could, and played to the final whistle, but some great work in defencefrom all the Mackie boys ensured that the game finished without them conceding further points.
Mackie will now embark upon the sevens circuit, with sevens specialist coach Paul Berrisford at the helm.
Great things are expected of this young and very talented Mackie side