This time last year and Stornoway were sent home from Ellon with their tails firmly between their legs after a humbling and painful 88-5 defeat.
While all involved in the Stornoway camp were anticipating another very tough match against a very strong side, a similar result and gulf in scoreline was never on the cards with the islanders showing a new found resolve and fighting spirit in recent times.
And having won three matches on the spin also does wonders for a teams confidence.
And so Stornoway crossed the Minch again for the testing fixture at The Meadows against the high-flying Aberdeenshire outfit.
Ellon started out in physical manner and were clearly looking to intimidate and bully the visiting side. Perhaps last season, Stornoway may have succumbed to such tactics but with captain David Campbell leading the way, the islanders were in no mood to be pushed around.
Ellon broke the deadlock after just five mins, with weak defence around the fringes of the ruck allowing one of the home forwards the chance to break free and dot down for an early lead. The extra points were good and without an opportunity to have possession, the island seize found themselves 7-0 down.
Stornoway however, rallied well and were more than a match for the home side, both in defence and attack. Ellon’s early ‘aggression’ saw their number 8 receive a yellow for throwing Dean Drummond to the ground off the ball.
The island outfit enjoyed a spell of pressure with the extra man and Chris Adams chipped ahead and used his pace to touch down wide on the left. The extra points were narrowly missed but at 7-5, the Aberdeenshire outfit knew they were in a game.
The remainder of the half was evenly fought with both defences coming out on top, managing to thwart any real attacking moves. Just before half time Stornoway were awarded a scrum and simply needed to kick the ball dead for the half to end. Unfortunately for them, the Ellon scrum half stole the ball from his Stornoway counterpart and scrambled for the line, despite the best efforts of the visitors defenders. The conversion was missed but it was a cruel way to end the half for the island side, now 12-5 down.
The second half was again an evenly fought contest, with Stornoway’s only negative being a scrum that could not cope with the powerful Ellon unit. With 10 minutes left, Ellon pressure finally broke the islanders defence and the crossed to stretch the lead to 17-5. Stornoway enjoyed the majority of possession for the remainder of the game and came close to salvaging a losing bonus point, but eventually the Ellon defence stood strong and the game ended on the 17-5 score line.
Perhaps on another day and with a bit of luck this could very easily have been a win for the travelling side.
Stornoway now prepare for their next fixture, an all island affair, as the welcome Shetland to Bayhead this Saturday.