Crieff and Strathearn 8
CRIEFF started this game well again, with the team looking strong.
However, up against a bigger Madras side, who were scrummaging effectively, Crieff were unable to dominate as they would have liked.
The home side had two or three very good ball carriers who were making life difficult for the Blue and Golds, who defended well but allowed too many basic errors to creep into their game.
After about 20 minutes a good backs move from Madras resulted in the opening score, with their right wing running in an unconverted try from the halfway line, very much against the run of play.
This was countered shortly after by a very good individual try from the halfway by Crieff stand-off Neels Nieuwenhuis, although his countryman Stefan Wiehman missed the conversion from in front of the posts.
Late in the first half Crieff coach Botha Enslin rang the changes up front, bringing on Cook and Coventry in the front row to give both props a rest.
The half-time whistle arrived with no further scoring so it was level at five apiece as the teams left the field.
Playing into a strong wind in the first half, Crieff were looking to make good use of the elements in the second but this was not to be as the wind dropped considerably. As a result Crieff never quite got going in the second half.
The scrum was holding up much better but, with Wiehman again playing inside centre, the Blue and Golds pack were fielding only one recognised jumper in Cammy Kennedy.
Consequently their lineout was not proving as effective as the home team’s.
Despite this, it was Crieff who struck first, with Weihman making amends for his earlier miss by kicking an excellent penalty soon after the restart to put Crieff 5-8 up. Everything seemed to be going well until a strong run from Madras ended in a penalty just short of the 5m line and sloppy defence allowed one of Madras’ large forwards to drive over for their second try.
The kick was struck well to add the extra two points and the home side were back in the lead 12-8.
Once again Crieff found themselves plagued by injuries, with both Wiehman and Lupescu having to retire.
Coach Enslin reshuffled the side, moving Cammy Kennedy into the centre with Peter Cook moving to number 8 and veteran forward Jimmy Coldwell coming on to the wing for Lupescu, where he showed some rugged determination in one or two excellent tackles.
Perhaps all these changes unsettled the visitors, as with ten minutes to go they went further behind as Madras scored another try against the run of play to make it 17-8 and with mere seconds left on the clock they added a fourth unconverted try which saw Madras get their bonus point.
In a disappointing result there were good performances from Nieuwenhuis and Gordon Innes, some strong tackling again from Andy Coffey and several outstanding covering tackles from Craig Wishart. However, man of the match went to 17-year-old Nicky Rowan, who put in a mature game at 7.
This Saturday sees a fascinating encounter with Aberdeen University, with the Crieff triumvirate of Lyle , Clow and Wyllie in opposition. Kick-off is 3pm at Braidhaugh.