Glenrothes 15, Gordonians 13
Glenrothes triumphed in this BT Caledonia Shield semi-final against the only team to have beaten the Carleton men this season in an absorbing contest on Saturday.
The home side displayed superb discipline in defence to hold their visitors to a single try and, as has been seen all season, showed a belief in their ability and a willingness to play for the full 80 minutes.
In the league encounter at Countesswells, Gordonians were ahead of the reds in every aspect of the game, but this was a completely different matter.
Gordonians stand-off Mark Marchbank missed two kickable penalties before opening the scoring after 35 minutes with a penalty conceded by a Glenrothes player handling in a ruck.
Going behind stung the reds into attacking action for pretty much the first time in the game.
A knock on by one of the Glenrothes forwards saw the visitors awarded a scrum 5m from their line but the reds pack imperiously shoved them off the ball and Shaun Gray dived over close to the corner flag. Gray then slotted the difficult conversion to give a half time score of 7-3.
Playing downhill in the second half, Glenrothes quickly increased their lead when interplay between Stewart Hainey and Steven Dean led to the centre shrugging off a couple of attempted tackles, crossing the line near the right hand corner and running half way to the posts before touching down.
Gray was unsuccessful with the conversion attempt.
Gordonians looked at their most dangerous when they got the ball to the left winger, Danny Osugo, and it was this player who scored the next points. He ran behind the posts to give Marchbank an easy conversion to bring the visitors to within two points of Glenrothes at 12-10.
As full time approached, it was the visitors who scored next when an indiscretion at a ruck 22m from goal allowed Marchbank to pop over his third successful kick of the afternoon and put his team one point in the lead.
There was still time, however, for Glens to hit back, and when Gordonians conceded a penalty as they went offside at a ruck 15m from the goal line, Gray coolly bisected the posts with his kick and the reds held out to take the victory by two points.
After the game, a very proud coach Tom Hainey looked almost as worn out as his players.
He said: “For as poor as we were the last time we played Gordonians, I thought we were excellent this time and did exactly what we needed to do to beat a very good team indeed.”
Glens’ opponents, and venue, in the final will become clear after Orkney face Hillfoots in a league and Shield double header next weekend.
This weekend sees the resumption of league action, with the firsts travelling to Thurso and the development XV entertaining Falkirk 2nds.