Opening day win for Grangemouth Stags
The Stags kicked off the season at home last Saturday as they welcomed Ellon to Glensburgh.
The sides had shared the spoils last season with the Stags claiming victory at Ellon while the Aberdeenshire side secured a dramatic victory at Grangemouth with a last minute try and conversion.
The Stags fielded a new look backline with Manson at 10 and Jamieson and Lowry in the centre with skipper Skelton switching to the wing. Up front Christie was in at hooker for the injured Clark.
The heavy rain the previous day had cleared but conditions were tricky with a soft pitch and a stiff breeze to contend with.
Grangemouth kicked off into the wind and made the perfect start with a score in the first minute.
From the kick off Ellon fielded and kicked downfield. The ball was collected by Jamieson. He passed to Allan and the winger stepped round the chaser and ran in from 30 metres for a score in the corner.
Manson was unable to add the extras.
The Stags continued to attack and increased their lead a few minutes later when Manson converted a simple penalty. After 10 minutes the visitors at last had some possession and kicked deep into the home 22.
They secured a lineout and although the Stags held the initial drive some poor defending allowed the Ellon scrum half to dart round the side of the maul and dive over from close range. The conversion was on target.
Soon after Grangemouth missed a penalty attempt at goal with the ball rebounding off the post.
As the game entered the second quarter the Stags continued to press to increase their lead. A fine run by Gemmell took play deep into the visitors 22.
After a spell of pressure Harvey picked up from an attacking scrum and slipped the pass to Dempsey who scampered over for the score. Once again the conversion was wide.
Somehow there were no further scores in the closing 15 minutes of the half with both sides squandering scoring chances.
Firstly Ellon created an overlap with some good handling by the backs but the final pass was over the wingers head with the try line beckoning.
Then a missed tackle on the Ellon number 8 allowed him to gallop close to the line before being stopped by a last gasp covering tackle.
The visitors also chose to run a kickable penalty and were brought back for offside after a break upfield following a dropped pass by the home backs.
Ellon were then reduced to 14 after a yellow card for a dangerous tip tackle.
The closing minutes of the half saw the home pack try to use their scrum dominance to muscle their way over the line.
Despite the extra man and three scrum penalties the visitors line remained intact and they were able to clear to touch and the welcome relief of the half time whistle.
HT Stags 13 Ellon 7.
Grangemouth were straight back onto the attack at the start of the second period.
A strong run from Stangoe took play up to the 22 and when the ball was recycled Dempsey repaid the favour with a pass to Harvey to crash over near the corner. Once again the conversion was wide.
With the visitors restored to their full compliment the game continued to swing from end to end.
Another missed tackle allowed the Ellon centre to cut through the defensive line and then the visitors stand off found a huge gap to exploit and run in for a converted try.
With just 10 minutes to play Ellon took the lead with a penalty try. They worked a peel round the front of an attacking lineout and although the replacement hooker was halted in the corner the referee deemed it to be a high tackle and awarded the penalty try.
Grangemouth hit back and a penalty attempt from Jamieson was just wide. However the try followed soon after with a scrum pick up by McNiff and Dempsey once again having the strength to hold off some tired attempted tackles to dive over.
Jamieson was unable to land the conversion.
In the closing minute the Stags were able to add a fifth try. The forwards had a series of drives in the 22 before some good handling by the backs saw Gemmell give the scoring pass to Lowry for his first score for the club.
The conversion was again off target.
FT Stags 28 Ellon 21.
The Stags were happy to secure a bonus point victory in their opening match but know they will have to improve in the coming weeks against tougher opposition.
The scrum was on top throughout but once again there were problems at the lineout.
In attack some of the handling was poor and too often the wrong options were taken. The side also missed several first up tackles which could have proved costly.
This week the Stags are again at home this time in the Shield as they welcome Mackie to Glensburgh for a 3pm KO.
The seconds’ league game away to Glenrothes was cancelled as the opposition only had 5 players. The sides will try again this Saturday with KO again 3pm.