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Oban Lorne travelled to Alexandria to play Loch Lomond on Saturday with the Green Machine looking to get back to their winning ways after a run of defeats in recent games.
With a number of players missing due to work commitments, injuries and illness, it was a depleted squad that made the journey down the road.
The coaching team would like to publicly thank the MacLachlan brothers, Calum and Lorne, for answering an SOS and going above and beyond the call of duty to help out on Saturday – a measure of their continued commitment to the club.
Lorne, seeing the number of call-offs due to the sickness bug doing the rounds, decided to travel having been rested for the game as he was carrying a bit of a shoulder injury. His brother Calum, currently recuperating from surgery on his knee, agreed to go via Lochgilphead to pick up Daniel Broderick, who had missed his connection after working a nightshift.
With club coach Andrew Johnston also having to pull on the boots for the first time in 18 months to make up the numbers in the front row, this was going to be a big ask.
Oban were keen to keep the ball away from the large home pack who had caused some problems for the Green Machine in the first fixture earlier in the season.
The Oban side were looking to keep the ball moving and attack the width utilising their dangerous backline.
After a bright start, Craig Wright was first to get on the scoresheet after 12 minutes with a trademark dash down the wing outpacing the cover defence for yet another try in a remarkable season. Finlay Carmichael converted the extras to give Oban a 7-0 lead.
Straight from the kick-off, Owen McDonald showed exactly what Oban have been missing with a fantastic surge. Catching the kick-off on the 10m line, he broke a number of tackles before surging into the home 22 and crossing the line for a fantastic try. This time the conversion was missed but Oban were 12-0 up.
Lorne were playing well, keeping the tempo high but the conditions were tricky and a number of knock-ons and handling errors were always going to be part of the game. The Oban pack were struggling to secure the scrum with the much heavier Lomond eight dominating all day.
Time and again the Oban pack were marched back with the sheer weight of the Lomond pack. As a result of this, Oban were giving away penalties which were giving Lomond opportunities to clear their lines and put pressure on the Oban defence.
After enduring a good spell of pressure, Oban broke out of defence again on the half-hour mark and, after some good link up work, they took play deep into the Lomond 22. After a number of pick and goes McDonald was on hand again to crash over the line from five yards and extend Oban’s lead to 17 points with another fine try. Carmichael was on target again with the conversion to extend the lead to 19-0.
Oban had their tails up and were soon to extend their lead again as scrum-half Vasco scored a cracking try after some fantastic interplay between the forwards and backs. Keeping the ball moving with offloads out of the tackle and some great lines of running by the backs created the space and the Bulgarian international was on hand to take the Oban lead out to 24 points while at the same time securing the bonus point try.
This brought an end to the first half with Oban leading 24-0. The coaching team made one change at half-time with Daniel Broderick replacing Lorne MacLachlan.
Oban were soon to extend their lead early in the second half when Craig Wright was quick to capitalise on a poor Lomond kick out of defence and ran the ball in for his second try of the game.
A mistake in fielding the kick-off gave Lomond possession of the ball and they came hard at the Oban defence with a number of pick and goes. Some resilient Oban defending was eventually beaten when the big prop crashed over the line after 50 minutes.
With the Oban pack under pressure at every scrum, Lomond were able to keep turning the screw and Oban spent most of the second half defending with the odd break out of defence but never threatening the Lomond line again.
Coach Johnston lasted till the 70th minute before leaving the pitch with a shoulder injury and this forced a bit of a reshuffle with MacLachlan returning to the field again.
With five minutes of the match remaining, Lomond were pressing the Oban line with Oban defending well putting bodies on the line time and again.
There were some fantastic tackles going in but there were also some lapses which ended with a number of penalties being awarded to Loch Lomond.
From one of these penalties, Lomond surged over the line again with their big guys really hard to stop when they get a run on the ball from five yards out. Scrum-half Vasco injured his knee in defending this and looks like he is going to miss the next few weeks.
It was all Loch Lomond in the last few minutes but the Oban defence held up well to repel the Lomond charges.
The referee was losing patience with the number of penalties being given away by Oban as they were throwing themselves into every tackle desperately trying to protect their line.
With the last movement of the game he awarded Lomond a penalty try because of persistent infringements by Oban as they defended their line gallantly against the massive Lomond pack.
With the final score Loch Lomond 21, Oban Lorne 29 it was a very satisfied coach who gathered the team at the final whistle to thank them for a fantastic performance. They had stepped up to the mark and came away with a bonus-point victory against a team that historically has always been a very tough fixture in recent years.
Some stand-out performances from a number of players across the team, Stanley Lister time and again stripping ball, big Eric Roberts smashing into tackles, young Kieron Morrison again excelling in the back row, scrum-half Vasco energising the team with his chat, Ferg McCoss showing some great footwork to create space out wide, Craig Wright constantly threatens whenever he gets ball in space but the man of the match performance was from the Owen McDonald. He was outstanding all day in attack and defence and it was great to have him back in the team.
This win moves Oban Lorne up to second position in the league as they overtook Uddingston who were defeated by league leaders Lenzie on Saturday.
Oban will be looking to cement second place when they welcome Uddingston to Glencruitten at 2pm on Saturday for a massive game.
Players would love to have a big home support for Saturday and as such are hoping to attract any ex-players to the club for a free pie and a pint at half-time in the game. Let’s get along and support the boys as they look to overturn the defeat down the road earlier in the season.
Oban Lorne U14s also play at home this Saturday against Mid Argyll – kick-off noon.