A small Mackie S1 team travelled to Inverness on the February 28 expecting a tough fixture against Highland.
In their previous meeting, Mackie narrowly lost 5-4 at Redcloak after some erratic refereeing.
This return game was always going to be a sterner test. The Mackie S1 team had 15 players available to travel for the game. Only five were forwards and the remainder backs. Conditions in Inverness were less than ideal.
Frequent heavy showers and blustery conditions, with an icy wind whipping down the park, meant that whoever one the toss was going to have a big advantage in a game comprising three 20 minutes “halfs”.
Highland won the toss so Mackie had to endure 40 minutes playing against the fierce wind on what was a slick and very muddy pitch. The Highland forwards team were big and significantly larger than the small Mackie pack. From the outset it was going to be a difficult game given the conditions and the relative size of the Highland team.
The final score was 5-1 in Highland’s favour but the score line does not tell the whole story. This was a brave and tireless performance by the Mackie S1 team. They tackled as if their lives depended on it and although pinned back in their own half for much of the match never gave the ill-disciplined Highland team much space to play. The small forwards were combative and held their own, winning as much if not more ball in the breakdown than the Highland pack.
The backs struggled in the conditions particularly with a greasy ball and a headwind that all but ruled out kicking for most of the match. Although losing territorially Mackie had as much possession as Highland but could not capitalise on it.
Their one try came in the second period of play and was easily the best try of the match involving slick passing and interplay by the Mackie backs allowing Beans to go over on the left. If only conditions had been better more of this type of play could have offered a different result.
It was a good performance by the undersized Mackie team who, as a result of early injuries, had no subs for most of the match. In the final period they endured the Highland pack camped on their goal line for fully 10 minutes without yielding and it was only a long range effort from one of the more mature looking Highland backs who steamroller through the exhausted Mackie defence, that prevented the final period from remaining try-less. Well done Mackie. We learned that they can raise their game and play good defensive rugby in the mud.
Team: Forwards: Alex Dunlop, Dylan Thomson, James Cochrane, Oscar Burslem, Theo Brainwood. Backs: Findlay Rhind, Cameron MacAlpine, Euan Greenlees, Hudson Gill, Logan Bean, Logan Grant, Malcom Mather, Murray Allan, Owen Stewart, Tom Robertson