Stornoway snowballing their way to survival

Stornoway RFC 34
Shetland 8
(H.T. 17-8)

Stornoway RFC took a massive step towards survival in Caledonia Division Two North with a 34-8 home win against island rivals Shetland RFC, who remain marooned at the bottom of the table.

Following last Saturday’s win, Stornoway now sit in the top half of the table in the relatively lofty position of fifth, but know that real challenges lie ahead in the coming weeks, with a number of trips to the east coast to play some of the strongest sides in the table.

Despite weather which could have normally lead to the game being called-off, everyone did their best to ensure it was played, with Shetland having forked out £3,500 on flights. A number of volunteers spent the morning clearing the Bayhead of snow.

Stornoway chairman Colin MacIver said: “We had to make the best of it. Had we called off it would have seen Shetland lose a lot of money.”

In terms of the game itself, the home side really never looked like losing, despite missing a number of players who would normally have started. A total of six tries were scored — three in each half — and in actual fact could have been more as the players conspired to throw away several chances to score.

Angus MacArthur got things going early after a powerful forward surge. From a scrum ball the Stornoway pack drove their opposition pack backwards and MacArthur claimed the pushover try.

Despite the frosty conditions, both sides were looking to throw the ball around and this led to an entertaining spectacle. Speedsters Pat Sattaphol and Ruairidh Stewart were able to then take advantage, using their pace to grab a try each before half time.

Shortly before the half-time whistle though, Shetland scored what was arguably the try of the game, after a great spell of pressure. Half-time came at the right time for Stornoway, as they were able to rally from the teamtalk, raising their game again in the second half.

With a comfortable 17-8 lead, Stornoway started the second half strongly, with both forwards and backs linking well and constantly threatening the Shetland defence. Three more tries were to follow, including the cheer of the day for young Shaun Smith who rounded off a great ball-carrying game, with a well deserved try.

While Stornoway squandered a number of chances, and could easily have doubled their points tally, they were still made to fight for it by a gutsy Shetland side who never stopped playing rugby.

For Stornoway, though, it the perfect start to 2015, with a bonus-point victory. Coach Angus “Bubble” Mackay said: “We have had no real opportunity over the past three or four weeks to train, so we really didn’t know what to expect today.

“I was delighted with the way we attacked the game. We wanted to put the ball through the hands, using our pace out wide and although we made a lot of errors and struggled with the conditions, there was plenty to be positive about.”

Stornoway are on the road this weekend as the make the journey to Aberdeen to play the university side and are back home at the end of the month when they welcome second-placed RAF Lossiemouth to Bayhead.