Stalemate at Glensburgh
By Dominic Ward
Draw leaves both sides dissatisfied
Grangemouth were back at home last Saturday as they welcomed old rivals Glenrothes to Glensburgh as the league season entered the final stretch. The Stags were still short of several players especially in the backs and fielded a midfield of Chapman, Shannon and Rutherford with Whitelaw coming in on the wing. Up front McNab, Binnie and Harvey were back in the starting line up while Kerry returned to action after his suspension. The weather turned foul just before kick off with heavy rain and a strong wind making conditions very difficult. Grangemouth had the advantage of the elements in the first half and made a good start. Shannon made an early break but the final pass to McLay was forward and the chance was lost. After 10 minutes the visitors had their first visit to the Stags 22 and came away with a score. From a scrum they brought the fullback in on an angled run and although he was tackled just short of the line the ball was quickly recycled for the Glens scrum half to dart over from short range for a converted score. Grangemouth tried to respond but failed to use the wind to their advantage and lost momentum by giving away numerous penalties at the breakdown. As the game entered the second quarter the Stags finally had some pressure on the Glens line. The pack had a series of close range drives for the line but were held up, Then from a 5 metre scrum the forwards shunted the Glenrothes pack backwards and Harvey collected the pushover score. Shannon was unable to add the extras. On 25 minutes Glenrothes almost increased their lead with a penalty but the kick came back off the post and was cleared upfield. The closing 10 minutes of the half saw the Stags lay siege to the Glens line. There were several close range scrums and drives by the forwards but somehow the Glenrothes defence held firm. However after giving away several penalties close to their line the visitors number 8 was given a team yellow card. Grangemouth also lost their number 8 Harvey with a shoulder injury as they tried unsuccessfully to muscle their way over the line before the interval. HT Stags 5 Glens 7.
Playing into the wind in the second period the Stags made a strong start with some good continuity play as they worked through the phases On 50 minutes the Glens number 8, having just returned to the field after his yellow card, was deservedly given a straight red card for a dangerous no arm tackle on home centre Rutherford. However once again the Stags were unable to cash in on the numerical advantage as Glenrothes used the wind to pin the home side deep in their 22. This time it was the turn of the home defence to step up and repel multiple attacks by the visitors. On 60 minutes Grangemouth were reduced to 14 when Binnie received a team yellow after several breakdown penalties. With 10 minutes to play the Glenrothes scrum half made a break in midfield and his angled kick for the corner saw his winger win the race for the touchdown. Crucially the conversion attempt was wide. From the kick off the Stags were back on the attack with Whitelaw collecting the kick and driving to the 22. A couple of minutes later Grangemouth thought they had scored as Chapman sliced through the defence to dive over but the score was disallowed due to some obstruction. With the last play of the game Hind picked up from a scrum on the 22 and passed to Forsyth. The scrum half scampered away from the defence to round the fullback and score. Shannon slotted the conversion. FT Stags 12 Glens 12
This was a game that left both sides feeling they should have secured the victory. Glenrothes had held the lead for most of the game and even with 14 men will feel they should have scored more points in the second half. The Stags will look at their forward dominance and wonder how they did not convert pressure into points at the end of the first half. Coach Deacons was pleased with the effort of his squad in difficult conditions. He also felt the result confirmed that apart from the top 2 in the division their is little to choose between the mid table sides. The Stags have 2 league fixtures to play , both against bottom club Harris at the end of the month. This week Grangemouth will play old friends Llandybie at Glensburgh on Friday at 2.30pm as they once again contest for the Alban Jenkins Shield.. The game continues the tradition of the longest running fixture between Scottish and Welsh clubs and all supporters are welcome.