With their home turf at Bayhead painted white by the weekend snowfall Stornoway Rugby Club welcomed Shetland for an inter-island league match in the most wintry of weather conditions.
In conditions which some may have considered as game breaking the two sides rolled up their sleeves and did sporting battle on the snow covered pitch for precious Caledonia Division Two North points.
Stornoway crossed the battle lines, painted blue to contrast with the snow covered surface, for their first fixture of 2015 keen to kick off with maximum points which they managed in style following a convincing victory over their fellow islanders.
The cold weather did little to dampen the spirit of both these sides, with some great rugby on show for the hardy souls who turned up to watch.
It’s fair to say that conditions were far from ideal, but such was the commitment of the visitors, spending over £3,500 on flights, the game really had to go ahead.
“We had to make the best of it, had we called off it would have seen Shetland lose a lot of money,” said Stornoway RFC Chairman Colin Maciver.
A number of volunteers turned up to clear the snow off the lines, with the traditional white markings turned blue for the day. Underfoot conditions were actually quite acceptable and to be fair, both teams were happy to make the most of the efforts of the volunteers.
As far as the game itself goes, the home side were missing a number of first team players, far too many to take the game for granted.
Shetland had travelled a long way and were looking to gain revenge, after Stornoway’s narrow win in Lerwick earlier in the season. However, from start to finish, it looked like a game Stornoway were never going to lose.
Three tries in each half saw Stornoway come away 34-8 winners and although this seems like a comfortable win, on the day Stornoway squandered a number of chances and could very well have made more of their dominance. Angus MacArthur got things going early after a powerful forward surge. From the ensuing scrum the Stornoway pack drove their opposition pack backwards and MacArthur claimed the push over try.
Despite the frosty conditions both sides were looking to throw the ball around, this in turn led to an entertaining game. Pat Sattaphol and Roo Stewart were able to take advantage of this, using their pace to grab a try each before half time.
Shortly before the whistle though, Shetland scored what was arguably the try of the game, enjoying their greatest spell of pressure in the match. The whistle came at the right time for Stornoway, as they were able to rally from the half time team talk, 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, with David ‘3G’ Campbell gaining his first senior try for Stornoway, Gareth Baker and cheer of the day for Shaun Smith who rounded off a great ball carrying game, with a well deserved try.
As was said earlier, Stornoway squandered a number of chances and could easily have doubled their points tally but in fairness to Shetland the gave it a real go and never stopped playing rugby.
In the end it was a great bonus point win to start 2015 was pleasing for coach Angus Mackay who beamed: “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 and are back home at the end of the month when they welcome RAF Lossiemouth to Bayhead.