MORAY Rugby U16s welcomed Ellon for their final Champions League match at Morriston.
The game was played in perfect conditions and an on-form Ellon team won 36-10 after an entertaining match in which Moray were always in with a chance of getting a result until the last 15 minutes.
Ellon kicked off and quickly put Moray under pressure when they forced a scrum in the home team’s 22. Ellon won the scrum against the head and moved the ball down their backs line to set up a ruck near the Moray touchline. Their alert scrum half dummied the ball and scrambled through the defence to open the score with a converted try.
Moray regrouped and, for the next 15 minutes, both teams battled to gain the upper hand. Moray were able to get themselves onto the scoreboard when they moved the ball from a scrum on the Ellon 10m line to No 10 Duncan Steven, who drifted between the Ellon 10 and centre before bursting up field, drawing the full back and offloading to Josh Grundie, who went over right of the posts to make the score 5-7.
Ellon were quick to respond and won a penalty after Moray dropped a binding at a scrum on the edge of their 22. The visitors converted the kick to make it 5-10 after 25 minutes.
The Moray lads kept trying to probe the Ellon defences and good breaks by Trevor Jones and Spencer Barcis put them deep into the visitors’ half but they were unable to convert the pressure into points and Ellon’s No 10 was very effective at clearing the danger using his boot.
Ellon finished the half with a try after winning a scrum on the edge of the Moray 22 and moving it to their outside centre, who broke through the defence and scored under the posts. The try was converted to make it 17- 5 at half time.
Ellon began the second half confidently and enjoyed most of the possession early on with their No 13 being particularly effective at gaining ground and moving his team forward. Moray’s defence however was strong and they kept the visitors out before engineering several breakouts by first Aaron Logan and then Niall Ward who drove the ball 40m up to and over the Ellon line before being held up. Moray won the resultant scrum and moved the ball down their backline to Jones, playing at centre, who went over wide of the posts to make it 10-17.
The try was unconverted but Moray were fighting their way back into the game.
Ellon however were not going to roll over and they effectively sealed the match with two quick tries after 55 minutes. Both were well worked down their back line from rucks just inside the Ellon half and their pacey winger and full back combined to round the Moray defences and score under the posts. The tries were converted to make it 10-31 with 15 minutes to play
Moray didn’t let this setback get to them and the final period was a dogged affair with both sides keen to add to their scores. The pace of the game also took its toll with several positional changes being forced due to players taking knocks and Ellon finished the match with a try from a lineout on the Moray 5m line which was driven round the fringe for a touchdown.
The conversion was missed.
This was a tough match for the Moray lads but they were up to the task and but for three lapses in defence could have been much closer to getting a result.
The Champions League has been a huge learning process for the team and they have gained massively in terms of development from these games.
Lying fourth in the league they now have a National Bowl quarter-final against Biggar at Morriston on Sunday which will be another tough encounter with both teams vying for a place in a Murrayfield final.