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Lochaber 6, Glasgow University Medics 3
Two penalties from the boot of Jonathan McCook saw Lochaber lift the West Regional Bowl for the first in monsoon conditions at Banavie on Saturday.
But what really prevented a repeat prescription of the nightmare 755 drubbing at the hands of Medics just a fortnight previously in Glasgow was a vastly improved display of tackling by the home side.
The omens for Saturday’s game were not good – the Medics were fielding the same team as they had in Glasgow; Lochaber had never beaten the Medics and the Medics were looking to win the bowl for the second year running.
There was doubt the game would even go ahead on the Thursday before hand with the pitch severely water logged but come Saturday morning it was playable at the game went ahead.
The weather was horrendous come kick off time but the hill filled up as spectators came to watch Lochaber compete in their first final possibly since the Brinn Cup win many years ago.
Lochaber had the first half chance of the game after winning a penalty they kicked deep into the corner but with the wet conditions the ball was lost at the lineout and the Medics cleared their lines.
Nine minutes in and the Medics took the lead after kicking a penalty to make it 0-3. The game was being played in the middle of the park with neither team really being able to break down the others defence.
Lochaber on occasions would break the line of defence through Taylor, McCook and Diack and others but the Medics defence always managed to scramble back.
In the second half the Medics were on occasion able to stretch Lochaber’s defence to create the overlap but the hosts always managed to get over and shut down any attack quickly.
With a strong wind now at their backs, Lochaber had the advantage of being able to kick deep to get territory and a few dropped catches from the Medics’ fullback gave Lochaber some great territory.
Lochaber levelled things up through the boot of Jonathan McCook with a superb 45m penalty to make it 3-3 after 60 minutes.
Lochaber started to grow in confidence and were starting to wear down the Medics’ defence, with Alasdair Davidson in particular mounting a few big run ands breaking through tackles.
Lochaber were able to apply sustained pressure on the Medics’ try line and came very close to crossing the line through captain Callum MacDonald, Conor Taylor, Koni Johnson and a few others.
Unfortunately they never quite managed to cross the line. The Medics were able to keep clearing their lines but couldn’t get out of their own half and Lochaber would keep coming again and again.
Lochaber were eventually awarded with a penalty for their efforts just five metres out and right in front of the posts with only seven minutes to go.
McCook slotted the ball between the posts to make it 6-3 and Lochaber took the lead for the first time.
Lochaber didn’t take their foot of the gas and worked their way back down into the Medics’ 22. Time was now up and the Medics had a scrum in the last play of the game deep in their own half.
But a knock on when picking up the wet ball from the scrum saw referee Willie Malone from Oban reach for his whistle to call full time as Lochaber players, coaches and supporters all celebrated.
Speaking after the game, the referee commented on how well disciplined both teams were and how penalties had been few and far between allowing the game to flow well.
Lochaber head coach Gary Hendrie told the Lochaber Times everyone at the Banavie club was delighted to lift some silverware.
‘It was a very tight game, nip and tuck all the way through and we’re delighted to have secured the win in what were pretty awful weather conditions,’ Hendrie said.
‘I think the conditions suited us more that Medics, but what really made the difference was the improvement in our tackling from two weeks ago.
‘Medics are a very dangerous side with the ability to score from anywhere on the pich but this time everyone was up tackling first time.
‘It was a great result to help mark the club’s 50th anniversay year as well, so that made it extra special.’
Lochaber are back in action this Saturday when they travel to Scotstoun Stadium to take on Hyndland. Kick off t.b.c as the Glasgow Warriors take on La Rochelle in the Heineken Champions Cup that evening.
Lochaber captain Callum MacDonald lifts the trophy amid scenes of jubilation at a wet but happy Banavie on Saturday. Photograph: Abrightside Photography.
NO F50 LRFC win bowl 03