Brechin Pirates travelled to the Strathmore Rugby Tournament last Sunday, April 14, in very wet conditions.
After persistent rain during Saturday night and the following morning, it looked as though the event may be called off. However, the promise of a respite in the rain around midday helped sway the decision to play.
THE MICROS’ team found themselves in pool B of the draw, taking on Blairgowrie B in the first match and storming to a 7-3 win, with tries from Jamie Leslie-Melville, Peter Marwood, Gregor Pert and Lewis Forfar.
They went on to win their next three games against Montrose, Carnoustie and Strathmore, making them overall winners of their pool and seen them reach their first tournament final.
They faced a strong Blairgowrie A team in the final. They played well, pushing forward and twice making it over the try line, however they were pipped at the post by one try – but definitely came out tops in terms of sportsmanship and fair play.
Squad: Jamie Leslie-Melville, Blakey Dunthorpe, Peter Marwood, Patrick Rose, Gregor Pert, Lewis Forfar and Leon Reynold.
It was also very heartening to see the players from the other squads cheering their younger club members on in the final.
THE P4/5s also faced a mud bath of a pitch but got on with the task in hand.
Their first game was against the Wasps from Dundee. It took the team a while to get into their stride and unfortunately by the time they had got going the match had ended in a loss.
Their second game was against Carnoustie, and the Pirates started much stronger.
Both Nicholas Leslie-Melville and Mia Whyte threw themselves into the game and scoring several tries.
Arran Murray again showed determination driving the ball forward to also score. They came away with a 5-4 win and very dirty strips.
Squad: Nicholas Leslie-Melville, Mia Whyte, Arran Murray, Guy O’Connell and Alix Morland.
Eleven P6/7 spirits could not be dampened and fielding squads of eight players with substitutes, the team came out against first opponents Dundee Wasps.
Following the familiar formation of four centres with two players on each wing, the Pirates were led out by captain Jack Wood, and for most of the first half barely strayed far from the centre line as both teams were evenly matched.
Gradually the conditions seemed to suit the mud-happy Pirates and dogged guts and determination eventually put Jack over twice and then Henry to put the Pirates 3-0 up at half time.
The Pirates began the second half with three fresh players and the squad took time to settle down, giving the Wasps a chance to punish them and come back to even the score.
Strong tackling by Connor, Gavin, Tom, Jack, Alex and Craig in the centre stemmed the Wasps’ attack and an excellent try line kicking clearance from Finlay put the Pirates back on the offensive with some great individual attacking efforts from Cain, Cameron, Andrew and Henry, with good support from their team mates.
The score line remained the same and both teams left the field with their heads high.
The second match of the day was against Carnoustie. However, in contrast to a previous meeting the Pirates held their discipline, keeping the defensive line intact whilst driving and defending through the centre of the park.
Eventually the Carnoustie centres managed to wrong foot the Brechin boys enough to begin putting points on the board and it looked as though the Pirates would be overwhelmed but their great character and spirit rallied them and they then put in some brilliant counter-attacks through Jack, Tom and Henry to achieve a respectable final score.
The coaches have become used to expecting big things from most of the established players and it is inspiring to see the great efforts and improvements from the newer players – Connor and Alex particularly.
Squad: Cain Anderson, Connor Buchan, Andrew Gowan, Tom Marwood (captain against Carnoustie), Alex McKinnon, Finlay Milne, Craig Moore, Henry O’Connell, Cameron Ritchie, Gavin Stewart and Jack Wood (captain against Wasps).
l A spokesperson for the Pirates commented: “Our thanks to Strathie Sharks for a well run tournament and for their kind hospitality and hot food after the match. And last but not least we thank our parents who consistently brave the weather supporting and encouraging both players and coaches.”