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Last weekend saw the return of league rugby to Glencruitten after the festive break. With Oban’s game against Millbrae on December 15 being called off due to the weather conditions, this was the first outing in a month for the Green Machine.
With only one session in the bank on the Thursday before, it was always going to be a tough game against the league leaders Lenzie. Oban had run them close down the road in September, being narrowly beaten by three points after staging a spirited fightback in the second half.
Oban fielded a fairly strong team but were light in numbers in the pack with back rowers Lorne Sinclair, Owen McDonald and vice-captain Stephen Povey all missing. There was, however, a start at No8 for 17-year-old Kieron Morrison, who has been a stand-out for the U18s this season.
Lenzie started the game strongly and were very direct with good strong runs from their centres getting them on the front foot. Oban were struggling to contain them and with only five minutes of the match gone, the Lenzie winger cut off his wing beating a number of Oban tackles to make the line and give Lenzie an early lead. The try was converted.
Oban tried to respond straight from the kick off with some good linking play between forwards and backs but struggled to get any real penetration through the well organised and aggressive Lenzie defence.
After a period of Oban possession, they were awarded a penalty kick and up stepped Finlay Carmichael to convert the three points.
Lenzie were quick to get on the attack again and a missed tackle in midfield allowed the powerful inside centre to cruise over the line to extend the lead to 14-3.
Oban responded again and managed to string some good phases together and eventually generated some quick ball for the backs to exploit. The ball was worked wide for Craig Wright to cross in the corner for another fantastic score for the fullback. Finlay Carmichael narrowly missed the conversion to make the score 14-8.
Oban were back in the game and looking to keep things tight until the half-time whistle. From a scrum inside their own 22, Carmichael attempted a chip over the top of the onrushing defence and the bounce of the ball took it just out of the reach of both Wright and captain Roberts.
If either of them had managed to secure that ball they were in for a score. Unfortunately, the ball fell into the hands of the Lenzie fullback who hacked the ball forward again. The covering Oban players allowed the ball to bounce and once again the bounce took the ball in the Lenzie player’s hands and he strolled over for another try under the posts to give the visitors a 21-8 half-time lead.
Oban were determined to close the gap in the second half but just could not breach the Lenzie defence again. There were a number of close calls for Oban with a number of visits to the Lenzie 22 being repelled by the visiting defence. Time and time again Oban tried to breach the line and got close on three or four occasions but either dropped the last pass or were wrestled into touch just short of the line.
The league leaders were showing why they have only conceded 84 points all season with some fantastic cover defence whenever Oban did have an opportunity. There are definitely lessons for Oban to take from this game as their own defence leaked a further three tries for a final score of 40-8.
Lenzie were made to work hard for their scores in the end but Oban were just off the pace and must now look ahead to trying to secure second spot in the league as Lenzie are too far ahead now to be caught.
Some tough games ahead for Oban starting with next weekend’s trip to Loch Lomond who are always a tough proposition. Then in two weeks Oban welcome Uddingston who are currently second in the league.
There were some notable performances on Saturday with young Kieron Morrison making his debut at No8 being outstanding, Daniel Broderick also showed up well being a willing ball carrier time and again. In the backs, Vasil Borisow had another outstanding game at scrum-half before moving into the back row to cover an injury. This allowed Ferg McCoss to come on and make his debut for Oban having recently moved to the area and he looks like being a really useful addition the squad.