Stornoway win with another late, great show of grit

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Bayhead hosted her last senior rugby match of the season on Saturday with the Stornoway turf once again proving to be something of a fortress as Stornoway won again – with the islanders homing in on a best ever league finish in Caley North 2.

Stornoway left it late, very late, as they snatched the victory from a shell shocked Ellon side in the 79th minute continuing their recent trend of late, great shows.

Ellon had started well, in confident mood and hogging much of the ball. Two early penalties put Ellon 6 points clear but they never really posed much of a threat to the home sides line. Stornoway too seemed confident with ball in hand and were playing some good rugby, without creating any clear try scoring opportunities.

On the half hour mark however, the visitors crossed the Stornoway line wide out on the right, stretching their lead to to 11-0, and this was how the sides turned at the half time whistle.

The half time team talk was calm and there was certainly no sign of the islanders panicking.

Darren Beattie, who had an excellent game at stand off, dotted down under the posts and from there Allan Farrell made the extra points, bringing Stornoway to within four points at 11-7.

Stornoway dominated the second half, but a strong Ellon defence proved difficult to break down. Stornoway enjoyed possession and territory but again, scoring chances were few and far between. This played into the visitors hands as they knew they simply had to hold out for the win.

On the 78th minute mark, Ellon kicked deep down in to the Stornoway half, where the ball found its way to Shaun Smith. He made a great run, driving deep into the Ellon defence, gaining 20m and dragging two or three defenders with him. After quick recycling Euan Mackinnon made a telling break and just inside the Ellon half he passed to Callum Nicolson, he needed no invitation and ran the 50m to dot down to the left of the posts, where Farrell again scored the extra points, pitting the home side three points clear at 14-11, with less than a minute left on the clock.

From the resulting restart, Stornoway gathered, recycled once and cleared the ball off the park, much to the enjoyment of the home support.

Coach Angus Mackay beamed: “Despite being 11 points down after 30 minutes, I was confident that the boys would get back in to the game.

“We were playing all the rugby and the boys believed that their hard work would pay off and when the chances came our way we took them.”

He added: “We must make a special mention to the crowd that turned out to support the Stornoway side. It really is becoming a huge inspiration for the players and the crowd here today was something special but its been like that all season.

“Its hard to put in to words how much it means to the squad. It really is like having a 16th man.

“And its not just a few former players, friends and family any more, there are lots of people coming on board and if the boys can keep offering quality performances then i hope the word spreads further in to the community.”

Stornoway now ready themselves for their final game, a mammoth three day trip up to Shetland on April 14/15/.16.