Lochaber U-16s give good account of themselves against stronger Oban Lorne side

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As a friendly prior to the upcoming U16 West Region Youth Cup games, Lochaber S3 and S4s played Oban Lorne on Sunday at the
Banavie ground, in perfect weather conditions, writes Philip Thurlow.

Oban Lorne were one of the strongest teams in the West Region league before
Christmas, while in contrast the Lochaber boys have had very limited game
time.

Oban Lorne were always likely to run out winners, and so it turned
out on the day, as they scored umpteen tries to Lochaber’s one.

A partisan Lochaber supporter would have had very few passages of play to
cheer about during the game, but digging deeper, there’s a lot to be
satisfied with.

This includes the club has worked hard over a number of years, to be able to field a
full 15 plus substitutes at this age grade.

Also, as the game wore on, there was a significant improvement in the
team’s performance, indicating that the boys were getting to grips with
competitive, full contact rugby.

It is club policy to give everyone in the squad some game time, where
possible.   Early on in the second half, when it was time to send on a
substitute, no-one wanted to come off – another good sign.

And, virtually all of the boys ended the match with some running left in
them, indicating reasonable fitness and stamina levels.

Last, but not least, as far as both teams were concerned, they enjoyed a
great meal afterwards, courtesy of a brilliant group of dedicated Lochaber
parents.
It was unfortunate that Zach Alexander and Match Captain Stuie MacLennan, both
rock solid in defence, had to come off with injuries.

Also in the backs, Callan Griffin and Taylor Barr had to cope with unfamiliar positions but by the end of the game were playing really well.

In the forwards, frontrower Anton Bodkin was Lochaber’s outstanding player, as tough as teak and never taking a backward step.   Not far behind him were second rowers J-J
Blackley and Archie Campbell.

Looking ahead to the U16 West Region Youth Cup, the club’s reasonable ambition
for them is that they remain free of significant injuries, and that they fulfil all
three first round games.

While the boys still have a lot of work to do, they’re definitely going in the right direction.

CAPTION:

Oban captain Finlay Brown brings down a charging Gregor Henderson. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F03 Rugby Loch Oban U16 01

Extra pics:

Lochaber’s Cody MacKay makes a powerful drive against an Oban tackle. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F03 Rugby Loch Oban U16 02

Lochaber’s Anton Bodkin commits to a determined tackle against Oban’s Rhys Neil: Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F03 Rugby Loch Oban U16 03

Oban’s Kuba Kolodziejkzyk makes a fast break down the wing chased by Anton Bodkin. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F03 Rugby Loch Oban U16 04

Oban’s Thomas Jackson engulfs Stewart McMillan in a powerful tackle. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F03 Rugby Loch Oban U16 05