PICTURES: Moray Rugby Club end Highland Raptors' seven-year unbeaten home run with victory in Inverness to keep pressure on Caledonia League 1 leaders Aberdeenshire
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Moray narrowly defeated Highland Raptors by 25 points to 19 in a close fought Caledonia League 1 fixture in Inverness last Saturday.
The Elgin side took the lead in the 2nd minute. A barnstorming run by prop Mark Taylor saw him set ball in the 22 following a solid line-out, 30 metres out. The ball was moved quickly to stand-off Cameron Hughes who threw a long pass to outside-centre Ben Taylor in space and he made the line for an unconverted try and 0-5 lead.
Moray kept up the early pressure and five minutes later, were given a penalty, 30 metres out, for hands in the ruck. Full-back Rory Millar stepped up and landed the kick for 0-8.
In the 22nd minute, following a period of end to end play, the Inverness side reduced the lead to 7-8 with a converted try when their left-wing offloaded in the tackle after an elusive run from the half-way.
Four minutes later, hooker Marc Higgins took a quick tap free kick on the half-way line and made good ground to the 22. Ball was moved to Hughes and he threw a couple of dummies before stepping inside the last man to make the line. Millar added the extras for 7-15.
The game remained open with both teams attacking at every opportunity but in the 37th minute, the visitors added to their lead. Hughes received ball from a clean scrum on the half-way and chipped the ball behind the defence. Millar followed up and when the ball bounced up from the 4G pitch, he drifted between two defenders to collect the ball and run in the score. He converted his own try for a half-time score of 7-22.
The Raptors started the 2nd half brightly and within 3 minutes reduced the lead. A couple of penalties took them to an attacking line, five metres out. After a clean take and a couple of drives for the line, which sucked in defence, the ball was moved wide and the wing made the line for an unconverted try and 12-22.
Four minutes later, with the Elgin side in attack in the 22, the home side infringed at a ruck, giving away a penalty. Millar stepped up and landed the kick for 12-25.
Moray were reduced to 14 for 10 minutes and some minutes later were reduced to 13, for high tackle offences. This gave the impetus to Highland but the Moray defence stood up well against the onslaught.
The pressure continued after the game returned to 15 aside and in the 68th minute, the home side scored. A knock-on in the tackle in the 22 gave the Raptors the opportunity to snap up the ball and moved it quickly wide for a converted try and 19-25.
The Inverness side continued to press but the visiting defence stood strong and in the last five minutes turned this into attack in the home half. A penalty was given, 40 metres out, and Millar’s attempt to put the game beyond doubt just missed past the right post. Moray kept the pressure up and No 8 Neil Alexander had a try chalked off for a double movement.
A last foray by Highland was turned over on the half-way line with Moray winning this competitive and entertaining fixture by 25 points to 19.
This was a really good win for the Moray side against a good Highland 2nds outfit who had not been beaten at home in 7 years. In the first half, they had played some good open rugby and in the 2nd period in particular, they had put in an excellent defensive shift to hold on to their well earned first half lead.