A late, late try from Stornoway earned the home side their first win of season against a powerful Shetland team who for much of the match looked like securing their first ever win at Bayhead.
Winger Chris Adams caught a loose clearance kick and ran the length of the field to score between the posts with the last play of the match.
Shetland started the match with the wind at their backs and dominated the first half, mainly through their powerful forward pack and some intelligent kicking by their half-backs.
Stornoway are well used to putting in strong defensive displays and some stuck to the task, forcing errors and slowing down ball.
During this period Stornoway were hampered by the loss of four key players to injury – No. 8 David Campbell, centre Manu Demoisy, stand-off David Mackay and centre Jeff Macdonald (who had replaced Manu).
Shetland scored two converted tries, narrowly missing a penalty attempt at goal, to lead 14-0 at half time. In the circumstances a scoreline that Stornoway could be pleased with and the break gave them a chance to regroup.
The second half was just as combative as the first but with Stornoway looking more comfortable on the ball, gaining some good field position and creating opportunities for themselves.
Innes ‘Kong’ Maclean, Shaun Smith and Roddy Graham were finding more space away from the breakdowns to make good ground and as the game opened up a bit Stornoway’s outside backs were also benefitting.
After 20 minutes of stalemate the match sprung to life. For the first time Stornoway put together multiple phases in the Shetland 22.
After a series of pick and goes close to the line scrum half Gareth ‘Boyo’ Baker sneaked over for a try. Alan Farrell knocked over the conversion.
Shetland struck back and after a long period of play, with their strong running back row prominent, eventually broke through to score their third try. The conversion hit the post and stayed out.
Stornoway rallied and pushed forward again. Callum Nicolson, now playing at full back, was proving a handful. He jinked his way into the Shetland 22 with the forwards in close support driving towards the line.
A penalty in front of the posts was taken quickly to maintain momentum and after Angus ‘Bubble’ Mackay was stopped just short Gareth ‘Boyo’ Baker pounced to cross the line for his second try. Alan Farrell converted.
The home side were soon back on the attack and were rewarded with a penalty that Alan Farrell successfully converted from 30m out, reducing the deficit to two points with five minutes to go.
Shetland managed to regather the restart and looked as if they would be able to see out the match, putting Stornoway under immense pressure. But then the dramatic finish. Stornoway somehow managed to turn over the ball close to their own line.
An attempted clearance from Angus Williams was partially charged down but Chris Adams pounced to gather the ball and sprint the length of the field to score.
Alan Farrell was successful with the conversion and the final whistle was blown.
A devastating ending for the Shetland team, who contributed so much to the match, but a tremendous result for Stornoway who will be relieved to notch up their first win.
This week is Super Saturday at Bayhead, with the action starting at 2.30pm with our ladies team kicking off their first ever home match in the return against Huntly RFC.
The ladies team was born a little over a year ago when Ealasaid Macleod created a Facebook page and reached out to people about starting a ladies team and getting coaching from the club.
Iain McFee stepped up and took on the task of Ladies coach.
To begin with the girls only had a half dozen regulars, but over the last six months training attendance has sky rocketed and have around the 16-15 attending training sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The ladies would like to thank the SYRFC Seniors and the coaches at the club fopr their continued support admitting they feel a part of the club and hugely welcomed while they have also trained alongside them at times.
Rugby has also helped bring some of the more nervous players out of their shells and all players in the squad share the same drive and passion for the sport.
A number of the ladies team have young children and they have made a push to show children are more than welcome and all make an effort with the kids and provide support to the mothers in our team.
The ladies team commented: “Our win in Inverness was such an amazing and emotional experience.
“We learned so much during that game and also saw where we needed to make improvements.
To have some of the men’s team travel with us to cheer us on from the sidelines was a massive boost for us. We hope to have a repeat performance when Huntly visit us in Stornoway in the 12th of May.
“Travelling for games has its pros and cons. We can use the travel time to go over our game plan or just get our heads down for some sleep.
Having to travel for a number of hours before a game can be very tiring, and delays could have an impact on our warm up and kick off time. Hopefully these are obstacles that we won’t encounter.
“We don’t just view each other as teammates, we are a rugby family and everyone does what they can for their family.”
Meanwhile, the ladies match this Saturday will be followed at 3.45pm by SYRFC’s S1/2’s showing off their skills in a challenge match.
Finally, the men’s team goes in the search of successive wins when they take on Deeside RFC at 4.45pm.
It’s a historic occasion for the club and it promises to be a brilliant day of rugby, and there will also be food and refreshments available both at the pitch and later on at the Carlton Inn. All welcome.
Stornoway RFC cannot understate how grateful they are to their sponsors and Scottish Rugby for their support to the club, which allows them to provide the opportunity for members of our community to play rugby.
The club currently has over 160 members from Primary 5 to seniors, including the latest addition this season of a ladies team.
Without the support of Duncan Mackay, 13 South Beach, Macleod & Macleod, Caladh Hotels, Point & Sandwick Trust and Engebret Ltd all this would not be possible.