ELLON U18’s had two opponents at the Meadows on Saturday – Aberdeen Grammar and sub-zero temperatures – but overcame both to register a 29-19 victory, writes Simon Cousins.
It was a much changed, and much stronger, Aberdeen Grammar team than the one that Ellon defeated 58-8 at Rubislaw earlier in the season. After a lacklustre performance against Gordonstoun last week the boys needed a quick start. They kicked off into the wind and snow and a great take by Number 8 Matthew Emmison put Ellon on the front foot.
Within five minutes Ellon had the first score when scrum half Martin McKenzie broke through the defence from a lineout before passing to flanker Tom Curtis to beat two defenders and dive over in spectacular fashion. The kick was converted to give Ellon a 7-0 lead. The lead was extended straight from the restart when winger Ben Trowse collected the ball deep in his 22 and set off up field. He offloaded to Matthew Emmison who drove deep into Grammar territory. When he was tackled the ball was recycled quickly and Ben Shirron eluded the cover defence to score.
Midway through the half the impressive Ben Trowse capitalised on a Grammar handling error to hack the ball up field. Two more kicks took the ball beyond the defence and Trowse kept his cool to pick up the ball and dive over for a well- deserved try. Ben Shirron converted to give Ellon a 19-0 lead.
Grammar now had a passage of pressure inside the Ellon 22 and a series of penalties for offside or infringements at the ruck eventually created space for the Grammar outside centre to cut inside to get their first points on the board. But Ellon had the final say of the half when centre Adam Krasjuk collected a drop out from the 22. Good hands from Emmison and centre Jamie Gillan provided Flanker Tom Owen with the opportunity to score. The conversion was missed but Ellon had opened up a 24-7 half-time lead.
The freezing temperatures took their toll on the players in the second half which was a scrappy affair. Grammar camped themselves in the Ellon 22 and the pressure resulted in a drive over try for the Grammar forwards.
Twenty minutes into the second half a kick downfield from the Ellon 22 was chased by Gillan and winger, Liam Cousins. The fullback spilled the ball under the pressure. Ellon set up a ruck and quick thinking from second row Ellis Swainston enabled him to pick up and drive through the defence to score and open up a 29-12 lead.
The Ellon players switched off in the closing minutes to allow Grammar to claim the final converted score. To the relief of all the freezing players, coaches and spectators the final whistle arrived to give Ellon a deserved 29-19 victory and cement their second place position in Caledonia North League 1. Their final match before the mid-season break is away at a much-improved Mackie. Ellon will be hoping for improved conditions so they can finish the league on a high.