Stornoway RFC roared back to winning ways last weekend proving too strong for visitors Ross Sutherland and earning a well deserved and morale boosting 31-7 victory on home turf.
The islanders had a point to prove with those in the home dressing room believing their performance in the previous fixture in Invergordon had been below par and an inaccurate reflection of the squads capabilities.
On that difficult away day it was Invergordon who ran out 29-7 winners giving Stornoway something to target to make amends.
Stornoway’s recent league performances have been spirited but nevertheless fruitless as the side struggle to field a steady team.
Coach Angus Mackay was happy that the team secured a much needed and confidence boosting win.
“The lads have put a lot of effort in to recent fixtures against the top two sides, yet they have been unable to come away with any points,” he admitted.
“A bonus point win today is the least they deserved, so I’m really pleased for them.”
Stornoway dominated the first half, particularly the opening 20mins, where they all but won the game. Both scrum and line out were a constant source of possession and aggressive rucking from the pack meant that the breakdown was also an area where the home side were just too good.
Three first half tries from captain David Campbell, Alick Graham and Darren Beattie, giving a buoyant Stornoway a 17-0 after just 20mins and those there to watch witnessed the island sides best period of rugby all season.
Ross however, did begin to make a fist of things from here on in, with only courageous Stornoway defence thwarting a handful of scoring opportunities for the visitors.
With the second 20min spell of the first half scoreless, the sides swapped ends with Stornoway still 17 points to the good.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first, with Stornoway dominant in the opening minutes as Shaun Smith crossed powerfully to touch home Stornoway’s fourth and bonus point try. Smith found himself in space wide out on the left wing and showed great pace to sidestep and smash his way through would be defenders from 40m.
It was arguably the try of the match, if not the season from the front row forward.
With the extra points added by Iain Mackinnon, Stornoway were now in complete control, 24-0 in front. From here, it might have been expected for the Ross heads to go down and Stornoway to simply run away with things
But Ross began to enjoy their best spell of the game, in fact 30min of the second half were all Ross Sutherland as Stornoway seemed to struggle in every area. The set piece, which was such a positive in the first half, simply didn’t function as scrum and line out fell apart. In open play, despite valiant defence, the island side were racking up the penalty count and after various warnings from the referee, Liam Callaghan saw yellow and was binned for 10min, the only surprise being nobody else followed him to the side lines.
Ross managed a consolation try in the time Stornoway were down to 14 but the home side never looked like losing the match and tightened things up by bringing on some fresh bodies. Indeed, it was the home side that finished on a high, with Euan Macleod crossing out wide on the left for Stornoways fifth try.
It was a timely win for the Stornoway lads, as they prepare to take on Highland RFC this week, with perhaps the second half collapse taking the shine off things slightly.
“We made it very hard for ourselves in the second half,” remarked Mackay.
“We lost all the composure we had shown in the first half and just gave away too many penalties, set piece went out the window and the link between the pack and the backs all but disappeared, it was hard to watch from the side lines.