Mackie welcomed Ellon to Redcloak on Saturday on the first weekend of fixtures in Caledonian Division 1. Ellon and Mackie have a long history of rivalry harking back to when the two clubs formed within six months of each other some 35 years ago.
Competing regularly for many of those years, the clubs exchanged blows in matches which many of the spectators on Saturday remember well. In the 10 years previous to this weekend Ellon made huge strides forward as Mackie struggled at senior level and the clubs were separated by five leagues at their peak. Steadily however Mackie has managed to improve and make gains whereas Ellon have been unfortunate in dropping down from the national league due to restructuring.
After a team photo with new shirt sponsor Graeme McKinnon of Kynon Engineering the game kicked of in bright but blustery conditions. With Ellon dominating the scrum the previous week, the Mackie pack had worked hard throughout the week and were now more than matching the larger Ellon forwards. Despite the improvements Mackie had made, Ellon were somewhat more clinical. Mackie were playing well but small errors were pounced upon and Ellon took the advantage scoring in the corner for an unconverted try after just 5 minutes.
From the kick off, Mackie went long this time and pressurised the Ellon attack and after stifling their efforts with some great first up tackling, Ellon were penalised dead centre and 35 yards out. Captain Craig Thompson opted for the kick and Levack stepped up to slot the 3 points. 3-5. The physicality of the first man at the tackle situation was a real problem for Mackie. With the home side unable to find that killer final phase and often resulting in a turnover, Ellon on the other hand capitalised on these and scored two further tries in the first half to be up 3-19 before a period of great pressure in the Ellon corner sucked in enough players to create an overlap for Duncan Ross to cross the line for a try converted by Levack.
Another nail in the coffin occured with a handling infringement in the ruck resulting in a penalty to Ellon which was duly converted leaving the score 10-22. From the kick off Levack held it up in the wind and Stuart Lawson rose like a salmon to pick it out of the air on the run to get Mackie on the front foot straight away. From a scrum the next phase was set before scrum half Rory Mellis sniped through the tiniest of gaps to scamper home beating another two tacklers to dive under the posts. Levack converted and the squad reset for the kick off with the fire in their belly, ready for the last 10 minutes of play to be all or nothing.
The scrum was all of a sudden majorly in Ellon’s favour, the young Gerrard was being unfairly bored in on causing him to be unable to bind properly. The referee deemed this Gerrards fault and repeatedly penalised him. Luckily the Ellon scrum half was struggling to master kicking into the wind and gifted possession back to Mackie time and time again. The pack re-grouped and took matters into their own hands and one scrum was all it took to teach the offending prop that boring in on Gerrard wasn’t the best idea. Tempers were frayed after this and resulted in an Ellon prop being red carded for killing the play on purpose. With Ellon now down to 13 for a short time, an expansive game was again the key, yet still Mackie could not execute. Phase after phase of pressure kept resulting in a turnover and kick back downfield by the Ellon Stand off. With each failed attack the thoughts started to creep in that it just would not be Mackie’s day.
With seconds to go, after another period of pressure, the ball was whipped out through the backs for Michael Kelly to pop a quick pass to Cameron Gray to dive over the line to equal the scores at 22-22 with no time remaining.
With the try scored wide on the left, Levack tee-ed the ball up right in front of the Ellon travelling support and enjoyed some less than helpful words as he lined up the kick. With the strong wind he struck it well heading wide and waited for the wind to catch it and push it straight between the uprights to win the game. The celebrations on the pitch and on the sidelines were some of the best the club has seen in recent years and with the confidence that this win gives the team, facing St Andrews University next week at home is a mouth watering clash.