PICTURES: Moray Rugby Club and Highland Raptors remain unbeaten after Morriston stalemate
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Both Moray and Highland Raptors maintained their 100 per cent unbeaten Tennent’s Caledonia North Region Division 2 record on Saturday, writes Graham Stables.
The clubs fought out a 20-20 draw in a hard-fought encounter at Morriston, a result that leaves the Inverness side on top having gathered more try bonus points than their Elgin counterparts.
The Raptors kicked off and after an end-to-end opening 10 minutes, they took the lead.
Clean ball was taken off the top of a line-out, 18 metres out, and quickly moved wide. When inside centre Seumas Ross received the ball, he returned it inside to the left-wing Connor Kelly coming at a good angle and at pace and he sped through a gap in the defence to score a converted try under the posts for a 0-7 lead.
Moray immediately returned to the visitor’s half with good driving and continuity play.
In the 14th minute, they were awarded a penalty in the 22 for offside. Stand-off Rory Millar stepped up and landed the kick, reducing the lead to 3-7.
It was end-to-end attacking play and minutes later, the Inverness regained a seven-point lead when stand-off Rory Carson landed a penalty after a high tackle.
The Elgin side returned to the offensive and in the 23rd minute were awarded another offside penalty in the 22. In this instance, they opted for a scrum.
Captain and No 8 Marc Higgins picked up from the base and drove for the line. In contact he offloaded to scrum-half Gregor Hands who quickly delivered the ball to full-back Archie Duncan who found a gap and powered over the line. Millar converted to tie the score at 10-10.
On the half hour mark and with Highland attacking, this time the home side were pinged for offside. Carson landed the kick to regain the lead at 10-13.
The home side again took the game back to the Raptors and created good positions but could not break through.
In the final minute of the half, however, they made the line. A penalty attempt from Millar, 30 metres out, came back off the post and at the subsequent breakdown, Highland were penalised.
A quick ‘tap and go’ was taken and driven to a ruck. Recycled ball was moved quickly through hands to centre Struan Henderson who found a way past the defence to score. Millar added the conversion for a half-time lead at 17-13.
The same ding dong battle recommenced early in the second half but the Highland side put together a sustained period of pressure in the home half from around the 55 minute mark.
The Elgin side defended this well but after 10 minutes of sustained pressure, the Raptors regained the lead.
A penalty kick took them to an attacking line, five metres out. Clean ball was taken and a maul drive took them over the line for the score. The try was converted from near the touchline for a 17-20 lead.
In the 72nd minute, Moray were attacking in opposition half and were handed a penalty, 30 metres out, for hands in the ruck. Millar calmly stepped up and landed the kick to tie the game at 20-20.
With only eight minutes remaining, the game was there to be won. Both sides each had an opportunity in this period but defences stood firm and the game ended in a tie.
It had been a hard fought and very competitive league fixture and the sizeable crowd of supporters had been treated to a very good game of open handling rugby. All in all, a draw seemed to be a fair result for the considerable efforts of both sides.
Moray visit Aberdeen Grammar 2nds on league business tomorrow.