The curtain has come down on a historic and unforgettable season for Stornoway Rugby Club as they soared to their best ever finish in Caley 2 North in their four years since winning promotion.
The conquering Hebrideans returned from their final league match of the season, an away trip to Shetland where Stornoway continued their remarkable winning run with a hard fought 7-5 win in Lerwick.
After a cagey 30 mins, Stornoway broke the deadlock through Callum Nicolson. He picked up the ball from a clearing kick, just inside his own half and he didn’t need any help as he split the Shetland defence, to run in untouched and dot down under the posts and from here Allan Farrell got the extras, 7-0 to the visitors.
Despite enjoying most of the possession for the remainder of the half, Stornoway were unable to add to the scoreline and the half ended with their seven-point advantage.
Stornoway were expecting Shetland to come out of the traps hard in the second half and readied themselves for this. Indeed, it was the visitors that dominated the early exchanges of the second period, playing their best rugby of the day. Again though, brave Shetland defence held and in turn they came in to the game more and more. They began to find gaps in the Stornoway defence and threatened several times before eventually crossing the line a try, only to miss the extra points and give the visitors a life line.
The home side sensed the victory and were now clearly the dominant side, with the Stornoway tacklers finding it their turn to pull off some last ditch tackles. From pressure on the Stornoway pack, Shetland were awarded a penalty with just five minutes left on the referee’s wristwatch. This sailed wide and with it the home sides chance of the win drifted the safe side of the posts as Stornoway her out for the final whistle and a hard fought victory.
This win ended a truly incredible season for Stornoway. By far their best season since being promoted 4 seasons ago and all coming on the back of the club genuinely questioning their ability to compete at the beginning of the season.
After managing to survive last years relegation battle, the club were in the position of losing a number of players, leaving an already thread bare squad with the bare minimum to select from.
After a couple of meetings with committee and players it was decided a better option to try and compete at the higher level, than drop down to the lower leagues.
Coaches Angus Mackay and Iain GG Campbell have worked hard on instilling belief into the players and since October they have lost only one game.
Although Mackay and Campbell can take some credit the way the players have approached the season has been the most positive of all.
Mackay said: “When you look at the challenges this club has, geographically, player numbers and facilities, it really is an incredible effort to win nine games, against teams with far greater resources and when we get things right, we punch well above our weight.”
He continued: ‘We have missed certain players but have unearthed some real talent and built some great leaders. Lets hope this acts as a huge stepping stone to next season, when we could welcome a number players back to the fold.”
Indeed, the club is in a hugely buoyant spell, from the senior squad all the way down to primary level. The number of registered players across all age grades, is higher than ever before and this is being matched by the numbers turning up to Bayhead to support all the teams.
The players and committee cant thank those supporters enough and wants to encourage this to continue, making the club a huge part of the island community.
The club would like to thank the continued support of all its sponsors, without whom we could not have have had our best season in Caley 2 to date..
The club would also like to offer an open invite to any supporters wishing to come to their annual dinner on Saturday, April 29, in the Caladh Hotel.
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