1st XV Cup Run Ended by Late Wanderers Try
By David Ilyine
Gordonians faced a tough challenge knowing that to progress to Murrayfield they would have to beat a challenging Murrayfield Wanderers team. Countesswells was bathing in sunlight, in what turned out to be the best possible conditions that a rugby player could hope for.
The game started with cagey attack and defence for both teams before Wanderers struck after a long period of possession. In this opening period Gordonians replied through Ross Knight, who sliced through the defence with his dancing feet. Sean Mills being absent meant the conversion was duly converted by Graeme Crawford.
With the game ebbing and flowing much of the possession was held by both teams’ forwards. With GoGo’s in attack Chris Simpson was shoulder charged late by one of the Wanderers front row, a yellow card was given leaving the visitors to fight on with 14 men.
Although only having 14 men Wanderers pressed on and the penalty count racked up against GoGo’s. David Ilyine was unfortunately the man to eat some cheese after one penalty too many. The resulting play had Wanderers pack force their way forward and over for a try, putting them up 7-12.
Luckily for Gordonians after several mistakes from the visitors they found themselves in opportune field position, a kick through led to the ball being spilt and Wanderers tackled a man off the ball and a penalty try being awarded. Graeme Crawford easily converted to put the score at 14-12.
The high intensity of the game up to this point proved challenging in the heat for both sides. Neither team were able to create any chances of merit until late in the first half where the large Wandies pack strung together a series of successful plays punching holes in the defence which ultimately led to an easy try for their backs in the corner.
This was followed up at the stroke of half time by Wandies slotting a penalty to put them up 14-22.
With the beginning of the second half the first score was always going to help dictate how it was going to go. With Gordonians backs becoming more involved Graeme Crawford was able to throw a long pass out wide to David Ilyine who raced into the corner which was not converted.
The game was evenly poised and Gordonians sat deep in Wandies 22 attacking again and again without picking up much ground. Tom Williams led his pack forward without managing to have any significant breaches in what turned out to be the best piece of defence GoGo’s have faced this year. After a period of 10 minutes Wandies turned over the ball and the pressure was released.
In the few remaining minutes GoGo’s pushed forward knowing a try could potentially seal the game. In what seemed to be a fairy tale finish Graeme Crawford linked with David Ilyine who crossed and scored, drawing celebrations across the team and the stands to make the score 26-22
With time pretty much up Wandies knew a try would only do. A penalty was kicked to touch and off the line out Gordonians defence was tested to the limit by a very physical Wandies team. With crushing tackles it appeared the visitors were being held back and would not breach the line. However with time well over 80 minutes a clever pick and dive for the line was successful and ultimately won the visitors the game 26-29.
The brutal 80 minute affair was one of the best games seen in recent memory at Countesswells. GoGo’s were tested by a team who deserve all the accolades they receive and who will surely head to Murrayfield as favourites to win the Shield.
Aberdeen Asset Management Man of the Match was Kieron Dalgarno for his strong performance at number 8.
Although the disappointment is felt throughout the club, the results leading up to the semi-final and the effort exerted have set a bar and example for future teams to reach. Our attention now turns to the top of the table clash against Caithness on the 1st of April which could seal promotion for Gordonians.