Impressive start with another win
EK make it back-to-back victories with fine display
Stewartry ............ 12 East Kilbride ....... 40 East Kilbride Rugby Club made it two from two to start the season with a win in Castle Douglas that was far more convincing than last week’s squeaker at home to Cambuslang.
The return from concussion protocols of Alex Irvine was still insufficient for player-coach Allan Steel to drop himself. Instead, under-18 Matthew Fletcher moved to the bench, where he was joined by the returning Scott Shankie, a massively important ball-carrier for the side.
Mark Ellison was similarly cleared by the medics to take up his junior position of scrum-half in a rejigged backline. Regular number-nine Aidan Stott shifted out to midfield while Rob Greenfield moved the opposite way to partner Ellison, as they did through junior rugby.
Steel’s rationale for the reshuffle was that Stott had been, on occasion, a little indecisive against Cambus and Ellison’s more direct approach would provide greater focus, which it undoubtedly did.
The huge side benefit though was that Stott has the quickest feet in the club and his ability to get outside his man midfield is a quality that big bangers Simpson and Greenfield lack. Additionally, Stott is a devastating tackler and the switch proved most encouraging.
In truth, the scoreline does not flatter the visitors.
EK were too strong for Stewartry up front, had far more pace in the backs and played to a pattern which maximised both attributes.
Whereas last week they slipped into hero-mode, everyone trying to win the game on their own, this week EK did exactly as Steel asked and played as a team.
The most obvious manifestation of the plan were the tries scored by the two youngest starters, Grant Dryburgh and Lewis Brown.
Dryburgh’s followed a sustained period of pressure, the ball moved touchline-to-touchline and back, before Stott’s pace sent the fullback over, while Brown somehow squeezed the ball over the line despite his chunky frame being midair and clearly over the touchline. The remaining tries went to Ellison, Beaton and Shankie (2).
Gaffer Steel was full of praise for his high-flyers.
He said: “Although we were happy with the result last week, the performance was disappointing because we are capable of so much more.
“But on Saturday, one to 19, we turned up and produced the best away performance I’ve seen in a long time.
“It was a disciplined, strong performance. We played players out of position, but in positions we believed they could do a job, and they all stepped up to the plate.
“We controlled the game from start to finish, working the ball well and keeping our shape.
“The backs controlled the tempo and allowed us to make some great scores.
“It shows what we can do when we turn up with the right attitude.”
This Saturday will be a huge test for East Kilbride when Allan Glens come calling (kick-off 3pm).
The Bishopbriggs side comfortably did the double over EK last season and were unfortunate to be shaded by Carrick for promotion.
Steel added: “Allan Glens beat us twice last season, so we know we have a tough job on our hands.
“But I believe if we play the way we know we can, I’m sure we can come away with a win.
“We’ll keep working hard through the week and take all the positive from Stewartry into this Saturday.”
TEAM: 1. Mclellan, 2. Anderson, 3. Beaton, 4. Dalgleish, 5. McLean, 6. Irvine, 7. O’Neill, 8. Steel, 9. Ellison, 10. Greenfield, 11. Haggerty, 12. Stott, 13. Simpson, 14. L. Brown, 15. Dryburgh.
Replacements: McLinton, Ferguson, Shankie and Fletcher.
Star man Aidan Stott was in top form for EK