STORNOWAY Rugby Club finally emerged from an extended period of rugby respite after a spell without a competitive clash since December 8th to steamroller visiting Lochaber at Bayhead.
The hosts returned to action with a tremendous fire in their bellies to win comfortably by 36-points and maintain their hopes of dodging the drop.
Visiting Lochaber were weakened but had shown tremendous efforts to make the journey for the fixture despite the treacherous weather conditions on the mainland.
Stornoway too were missing some players but were desperate for the game to go ahead, having been starved of rugby for such a long spell. With the biting wind leaving both spectators and players in a far from comfortable state the match kicked off at 3pm, much to the joy of both.
This was a game the home side were never going to lose and indeed they only strengthened the depleted visiting squad with a number of home based players.
The home side ran in eight tries and Stornoway dominated the early exchanges as their pack were in complete control of set piece. An early line-out saw them structure a tight driving maul from where Angus MacArthur crossed the line for the first of his three tries. This was to prove the key for the home side, as weather conditions were to dictate the type of game on offer.
If Stornoway were dominant in tight play, it was less so when they attempted to open it up. The backs looked dangerous but support from the forwards was at times sluggish, possibly expected given their lack of competitive rugby?
Adding to the lack of accuracy at ruck time from the pack, was a general desire to play rugby from all areas of the pitch, something that will need addressing for this week’s fixture against Ross Sutherland. It was a very windy day, making the longer passing game which has served the Islanders well, less than effective. It’s also worth noting, with a slight air of overconfidence, that the Stornoway side tried too hard at times, to make things happen.
There were always going to be mistakes, with the players being rusty but it was frustrating to watch.
Scorers on the day were, Macarthur 3, CT Moody, R Graham, A Mackay, R Stewart and Pat Schippol on his debut.
“It’s great to finally get a game of rugby,” said coach Angus Mackay. “It’s been such a long time since we played, we are effectively starting a new season and you could see that out there today.”
Mackay was pleased that a number of senior and junior players were able to get game time, in preparation for this week’s encounter with Invergorden outfit Ross Sutherland.
“It will be a totally different ball game next week, we know that. But I’m delighted we were able to get so many guys 80 minutes, rather than a run on at the end.”
Stornoway v Ross Sutherland will take place on Saturday with kick off around 11.00am scheduled to allow the visitors time to catch the lunchtime ferry back to Ullapool.