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