Oban Lorne turn on the style with em­phatic shield win over Ste­wartry

The Oban Times - - SPORT -

OBAN Lorne wel­comed West Di­vi­sion 2 lead­ers Ste­wartry to Glen­cruit­ten on Saturday in the quar­ter-fi­nal of the West Re­gional Shield com­pe­ti­tion.

Ste­wartry were ex­pected to pro­vide some tough op­po­si­tion for the Green Ma­chine, hav­ing per­formed well in their league this sea­son and record­ing an away win last week­end at pro­mo­tion ri­vals Cam­bus­lang.

Oban have been improving both in per­for­mance and con­fi­dence since the turn of the year and im­pressed de­spite last week’s 43-27 de­feat at Car­rick.

Player/coach Cor­rie Louw made a few changes from last week’s match. A first start was handed to 17-year-old sec­ond row Jack Stra­chan, while Louw’s own in­clu­sion to the start­ing line-up were the only changes in the pack. In the back­line, Fin­lay Carmichael made a start at scrum-half, al­low­ing Vasco Borisov to move to the wing. Stand-off Dave McCabe had a new cen­tre pair­ing to con­trol with Kiwi Mal­colm Ka­vanagh mak­ing his de­but along­side cap­tain Craig Wright.

It was a dis­as­trous start for the home side, who were sleepy from the kick- off and im­me­di­ately knocked the ball on. Ste­wartry at­tacked well in the open­ing ex­changes and spread the ball wide at al­most any given opportunity to spread the home de­fence.

Oban with­stood the early on­slaught and man­aged to hack the ball clear and gain some up­field ter­ri­tory with full­back Ru­dolphe Ber­trand win­ning a penalty af­ter be­ing taken out off the ball. From the re­sult­ing li­ne­out, deep in the Ste­wartry half, Oban at­tacked well with Dave McCabe pulling the strings to bring dangerous run­ners such as Calum MacLach­lan and Craig Wright into the game.

Ten min­utes in, the away de­fence was breached when prop Robin MacQueen crashed over from short range. Fin­lay Carmichael’s con­ver­sion gave a 7- 0 lead for the home team.

The home side pressed well straight from the kick- off and were look­ing ex­tremely dangerous in at­tack. McCabe’s long missed pass to winger Vasco Bor­siov out wide re­sulted in the sec­ond try of the day for the home side. An­other Carmichael con­ver­sion took the score to 14- 0.

At this stage Oban were to­tally dom­i­nat­ing the game and ex­tended their lead mid­way through the first half with a Carmichael penalty tak­ing the score to 17- 0.

Oban were un­lucky not to add fur­ther points on 25 min­utes as an­other penalty struck by Carmichael was de­nied by the posts with the re­bound be­ing knocked on at the try­line by the on­rush­ing Mal­colm Ka­vanagh, who was des­per­ate for his first try for the club.

The home side’s dom­i­nance con­tin­ued and they were de­nied a third try of the day on the half-hour mark with Craig Wright’s try be­ing dis­al­lowed due to cross­ing.

The men in green added to their tally just be­fore half-time with an­other try. A break down the touch­line by prop Rhys Brodie gave a good at­tack­ing po­si­tion in the 22. Brodie’s off­load to Cor­rie Louw was re­cy­cled quickly at the break­down with a charg­ing run by Tommy Suther­land dis­tract­ing the de­fence and al­low­ing the ball to be given to Robin MacQueen who scored his sec­ond try of the day.

This gave a half-time score of 24- 0 with the home side play­ing what was cer­tainly their best 40 min­utes of rugby so far this sea­son. A cou­ple of changes were made at the break with in­jured Jack Bax­ter be­ing re­placed by Lorne MacLach­lan and Rhys Brodie mak­ing way for an­other debu­tant, prop Alex Banks.

Ste­wartry started the sec­ond half well and pressed for their first score of the day. The vis­i­tors were held up over the line on one oc­ca­sion but could not build on their po­si­tional ad­van­tage with a pow­er­ful Oban scrum deny­ing them a chance to keep pos­ses­sion.

As the vis­i­tors con­tin­ued to bat­ter away in at­tack, Oban were brought down to 14 play­ers with Lorne MacLach­lan sin-binned for re­peated in­fringe­ments at the break­down. Some great tack­ling – in par­tic­u­lar from Stephen Povey and Mal­colm Ka­vanagh – de­nied the vis­i­tors fur­ther scor­ing chances.

Af­ter soak­ing up the Ste­wartry pres­sure, Oban added to what was be­com­ing a com­fort­able score­line with dangerous winger Calum MacLach­lan div­ing over to bring the score to 29- 0.

A fur­ther try fol­lowed shortly af­ter from Oban’s top scorer Tommy Suther­land who crossed over with a trade­mark fin­ish from only a me­tre out. This brought Oban’s points haul to 36- 0 with the team look­ing hun­gry to add to the dom­i­nant score­line.

Just as Oban were back to 15 men Ste­wartry had a player sin­binned, mak­ing their de­fen­sive ef­fort a lit­tle harder go­ing into the last quar­ter of the game.

Oban looked to have scored their sev­enth of the day with Alex Banks be­ing held up on the line. Again Oban’s scrum­mag­ing power was used to their ad­van­tage with the Oban pack dis­man­tling the op­po­si­tion and al­low­ing num­ber eight Cor­rie Louw and easy touch­down on the line. An­other con­ver­sion from Carmichael made it 43- 0.

Credit must be given to Ste­wartry, who kept putting in a huge de­fen­sive ef­fort de­spite such dom­i­nance from the home team. The vis­i­tors also worked hard at the break­down, turn­ing the ball over on more than a few oc­ca­sions, some­thing that Oban will have to work on moving for­ward.

Two fur­ther tries sealed the game for Oban in the last 10 min­utes. Full­back Ru­dolphe Ber­trand made a fan­tas­tic break from his own half, pass­ing to Borisov on the wing. The ball was spread wide from left to right, al­low­ing flanker Vladi Mi­hov to fin­ish off un­der the posts in acres of space.

The last score of the day came im­me­di­ately from the kick- off with Cor­rie Louw of­fload­ing to Tommy Suther­land who made one of his best charg­ing runs for­ward of the sea­son.

The 20 or so me­tres gained by Suther­land put the de­fence on the back foot. Oban used the ball well to find Ber­trand in space with the French­man us­ing his dangerous foot­work to race clear and score an impressive try and fin­ish the Oban scor­ing fest for the day. A fi­nal score of 55- 0 was a ter­rific re­sult for the home XV with some fan­tas­tic rugby on show. The re­sult means the team progress to the semi-fi­nal of the West Re­gional Shield, only three wins away from a his­toric sec­ond Na­tional Fi­nal ap­pear­ance at BT Mur­ray­field.

Oban will be hop­ing for a favourable home tie in the semi-fi­nal that should be drawn this week by the SRU West Re­gional Com­mit­tee.

Oban Lorne’s next game is at home to pro­mo­tion- chas­ing Newton Ste­wart who can seal the West Di­vi­sion 1 ti­tle with a win at Glen­cruit­ten on Saturday Fe­bru­ary 11.

This is shap­ing up to be a great game with a much im­proved Oban Lorne look­ing for some vi­tal points to ease any rel­e­ga­tion fears. Kick- off on Fe­bru­ary 11 is at 3pm.

Photos: Kevin McG­lynn. Match re­port Al­lan Wright

The Green Ma­chine’s Stephen Povey is held up just short of the Ste­wartry line dur­ing last Saturday’s BT West Re­gional Shield quar­ter-fi­nal at Glen­cruit­ten.

Oban prop Rhys Brodie is tack­led by a Ste­wartry de­fender.

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