Juniors start season with win over Wildcats
April 26th, 2016
Highland Wildcats 8 East Kilbride Pirates 24
The Junior Pirates kicked off their 2016 campaign with a trip to Inverness where they faced current champions Highland Wildcats. East Kilbride have recruited well during the o ff-season, practicing hard as they prepare to mount a challenge this year, and were looking for an early indicator of how far they’d come.
The early exchanges saw both sides running the ball, but with defenses on top, there was no score in a very quick first quarter. The same pattern continued after the turn around, but despite drives getting longer, there was still no breakthrough as the second quarter drew to a close.
Highland received the kick-off in the second half, and eventually broke the deadlock when, on a 2nd-and-15 play, QB Euan Crawford found Mark Pyper with a 19-yard scoring pass. A successful 2-point pass to Steven Shaw gave the home side an 8-0 advantage to protect. East Kilbride’s response came up short when they failed to convert on fourth down, however they left Highland deep in their own territory for their next possession. That proved significant when successive sacks by Craig Sanders and Mark Stewart meant the Wildcats were forced to punt from their 19-yad line. A wayward snap landed in the endzone where Callum Ferguson recovered it for the TD. On the 2-point conversion, Martin Gallagher was there to collect the loose ball when it was coughed up by his running back to tie the game at 8 points apiece.
With everything to play for in the final period, EK’s confidence was beginning to grow. However, they were soon forced to punt, but a penalty against Highland saw them once more pinned near their own endzone, Again a punt was to be their undoing. This time the kick was charged down and rebounded out of the endzone for a safety. A 2-point lead soon became 8 when, on the first play after the restart, running back Will Price tip-toed down the sideline for a 47-yard TD. East Kilbride’s defense held firm, forcing an incomplete pass on fourth down to ensure the turnover. The Pirates put their final stamp on the game, moving the ball to the 1-yard line before QB Nick Kosic carried over. Kosic then tagged on the 2-point conversion with a pass to Gallagher to finish the scoring at 8-24.
After celebrating this significant victory, the Pirates must quickly refocus as they entertain Newcastle Vikings at Hamilton Rugby Club this Sunday, May 1, with kick-off at 11:30.
Game report by Bill Campbell
Photos courtesy Scott MacDonald – find the full album on Flickr
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