ON Saturday afternoon Garioch RFC successfully completed their home league fixtures for the season with a clash against local rivals and league leaders, Banff RFC.
In this Oilstates Industries sponsored game, the teams shared six tries, and Garioch emerged narrow victors to complete a 100 per cent home winning record.
In perfect conditions for running rugby the game started with a flurry of scoring that resulted in the score being 10-7 after ten minutes of play. Garioch took the lead after only three minutes with a 25 metre penalty kick by Andy Gowrie after the visitors had transgressed at a ruck.
Almost from the kick off Garioch extended their lead, when after a terrific passage of handling play that really stretched the Banff defence, it was centre Chris Lawson who was able to break through to touch down under the posts.
The conversion from Gowrie was successful. Unfortunately Garioch were unable to take full advantage of this promising start and Banff soon got themselves back into the game when they scored their first try under the posts, at the end of a move that had started deep in their own half. Again the conversion was successful and with the score now at 10-7 the game settled down a little.
Halfway through the first half another impressive Garioch move ended with Gowrie crashing over for a try in the left corner. The difficult conversion was missed, but Garioch now had a nice lead at 15-7. After twenty five minutes the referee decided that the Garioch flanker Marcus Di Meola had conceded one too many penalties at the breakdown and he was yellow carded.
Down to 14 men Garioch dug in and managed to prevent Banff from scoring and indeed there was no further scoring, in what had been an entertaining first half.
It wasn’t until the eleventh minute of the second half that any further points were scored when Gowrie slotted a relatively straight forward penalty to extend Garioch’s lead to 18-7. Any thoughts that Garioch would now win comfortably were quickly dismissed when in the space of a couple of minutes the visitors twice crossed the line to score tries out in the left corner.
Crucially both difficult conversions were missed, which meant that Garioch still lead by a single point. With the game now so close and at times getting a little tetchy, it was Garioch who, with ten minutes to go, scored what proved to be the final and decisive try.
Good running angles lead to centre Fraser Smith eventually cutting back to score a good try to take the score to 23-17. Neither side could quite manage to score a fourth try to secure a try bonus point and after one or too close shaves at both ends of the field the game finished with Garioch victors by just five points.
Garioch’s Man of the Match was Stuart Morrison. This win took Garioch back to the top of the league just two points ahead of both Banff and Aberdeen Wanderers.
After the game the Zak Ferguson Memorial Trophy was presented to the Garioch captain, Colin McRobbie, by Iain and Hamish Ferguson in memory of their son and older brother respectively who tragically lost his life in a road accident in late 2009. Zak played for both the Garioch and Banff clubs in his short rugby career and he is sadly missed by players and supporters of both clubs. Garioch’s last regular season league game is away to Huntly on March 19.