Coach warns Ellon need “cup final” approach to stay up

Ellon Rugby’s forwards coach Ryan Morrice has warned the team needs to play like they have “nine cup finals” ahead of them if they want to avoid relegation from Caledonia 1 this season, writes Jack Calvert.

The Meadows side, who sit bottom of the table, move into the second round of league games this Saturday when they host Morgan Academy FP RFC, but their plight was not helped by a 22-7 loss to Mackie Academy FP last weekend.

The Stonehaven side were 5-0 up at half time after an early try, before Ellon scored at the start of the second half to go 7-5 up.

Then, in the last 10 minutes of the game, the home side scored a converted try and a penalty to take the lead and put the visitors out of contention for a losing bonus point.

Ellon continued to push hard to get something out of the game, but Mackie struck again on the counterattack and went from their own 22 to the other end of the pitch to register another converted try and dash their counterparts’ hopes of a second win this season.

Morrice said: “We pushed until the end, but our execution was just off. We struggled in their 22, it kept breaking down. It’s the story of our season.

“It was tight, nervy affair. The weather wasn’t great, there was quite a strong wind. No team looked like they were always in control and they were going to win it. We let ourselves down in the last 10 minutes.”

Fly-half Phil Edwards finished off a well-worked team move to score Ellon’s only try, which he converted himself. Scrum-half Ben Shirron, on return from an ankle injury, was another strong performer.

Their feats will be welcomed by recently appointed head coach Ross Finlay, who is trying to make changes in the way Ellon play the game.

Morrice said: “The guys are picking up on it. They’ve just got to keep learning. We try to keep them lifted and pick them back up every week. Especially with the season we’ve had, it’s hard to keep the guys motivated because of the situation that we’re in.

“Training is changing up and we’re trying to challenge the players and give them a better idea of where to be, where to stand, when to attack and identify what’s in front of them. It’ll get there, but we are running out of time now.”

Dundee outfit Morgan sit only one place above Ellon in the league thanks to a superior points difference - making Saturday’s clash crucial for both sides.

Morrice said: “They gave us a bit of a hammering down there, but we were absolutely atrocious in that game.

“Every game is massive now considering the situation we are in. We need to start picking up wins at home and points on the road.

“We’ve got five home games on the run in, three of them in a row to finish the season. We’ve got to start again and play like it’s nine cup finals to go and try and build that mentality.

“We’re not looking to put pressure onto the players. We’re trying to get them out there in the right mind set so they can do the job at hand and not worry about what’s going on in other games.”