Mackie U15s faced what looked their toughest challenge yet in the semi-finals of the Caledonia Cup when they took on Stirling County U15s.
County are a prestigious team performing very well at all levels, and Mackie had had a difficult few weeks fitting training in due to weather conditions.
With an almost springlike feel to the day, the teams took up their places on the pitch at the academy, pitches at Redcloak being waterlogged.
In front of a large home support, Mackie received the kick-off and made good ground with some strong running and earned a penalty on the 5m line. Quick thinking and quicker feet from scrum-half Rhys Innes led to Mackie gaining their first points, Rikki Gilchrist stepping up with a lovely kick to gain the extras.
Mackie seemed to shake off any trepidation and repeatedly got over the gain line, Rhys and Rikki displaying some lovely work to release Alec Sweetnam for a blistering run through the opposition and over the whitewash. Rikki again stepped up to convert the try and it was 14-0.
From a lineout a well practised rolling maul saw Owen Harrison-Lewis breaking free before offloading to Harris Mitchell, who left the defence standing, for another try to Mackie. Rikki Gilchrist again added the extras, for 21-0.
Then a penalty to Mackie saw the ball gathered by Harris Ferrol for a trademark surging run to feed Cameron Pace for a fantastic sprint to cross the line on 24 minutes, Rikki’s kick just falling short.
Stirling showed their resilience to come back and score before the half-time whistle with a fantastic passage of play drawing the Mackie defence in and earning an overlap to get a well deserved try, sadly not converted, to make it 26-5 at the interval.
Straight from the whistle Mackie started where they had finished, Harris Mitchell scoring his second try after a burst through the 22 to score under the posts, giving Rikki an easy kick.
Four minutes later and after a switch in personnel due to injuries, Iain Burt beat two County defenders after some great ball-handling skills by the team to extend the lead with a score in the corner, Rikki falling just short with the kick, and it was 38-5.
The lads were in full flow now and in the 53rd minute brilliant offloading by Alec Sweetnam and then Harris Mitchell let Andrew Davidson loose to do his wee jinking run across the whitewash in the corner.
A lovely pass under pressure from Alec saw Harris kick and chase the ball before crossing the whitewash for his hat-trick.
Mackie U15s: Tom Blackhall, Cameron Pace, Finlay Wynne, Alec Sweetnam, Owen Hepburn, Zane Waters, Ryan Lawrence, Iain Burt, Rhys Innes, Rikki Gilchrist, Owen Harrison-Lewis, Andrew Davidson, Harris Ferrol, Finlay Taylor, Jacob Burgoyne, Harris Mitchell, Lachlan McAlpine, Jonathon Edgar, Ben Robertson and Lennon Brown.
Mackie now progress to the cup final against Howe of Fife at St Andrews on Sunday April 29.