This week saw St Andrews Rugby Men’s Third Team head up North to Aberdeen, and while numbers were heavily depleted due to injuries, the Saints were still able to field a full strength – albeit disproportionately forward heavy – squad to compete against Aberdeen’s 2nd XV. Playing a strong and well-rounded Aberdeen side, the Three’s faced an uphill battle from the onset. Pressure on the wings and in the backline with some rapid play executions from Aberdeen saw St Andrews on the back-foot within the first few minutes. Although the Saints attempted several times to break out of their rut, they continued to grind to a halt when faced with the challenges administered by a competent home team defense. Aberdeen’s momentum rewarded them with a succession of several easy tries in the first section of the game, with the impetus now on St Andrews to react. Despite being several tries down and possessing a limited force in the backline, St Andrew’s Third XV was able to make some headway through concentrating the ball in the forward pack. Hefty, courageous runs by Douglas Hamilton and Joel Butcher provided St Andrews with precious opportunities to put points on the board as the Saints crept up the pitch. Yet, the determined and aggressive Aberdeen defense mixed with an occasional error brought St Andrews back to where they originated. After failing to capitalise on the intense pressure bombarding Aberdeen, the much-needed tries St Andrews had dreamed of slowly fell out of place. Aberdeen’s ability to rapidly counter the Saints, utilising their large advantage of attacking downhill, resulted in several more tries for the home side. The strength of Aberdeen is thus impressive as their team never let up, backed down, or lost footing against a commendable fight brought by the Saints.
The score-line appeared gloomy for St Andrews as the second half began, exacerbated by several injuries being inflicted upon the Threes, forcing tired substitutes to be deployed, filling positions they had never played before. This inevitably weakened the St Andrews defense, allowing a fresh Aberdeen side to take immediate advantage. While St Andrews’ need for reinforcement led to further tries being conceded, it has to be said that the effort and commitment shown by the beaten-down Saints players were commendable, with the spirit of comradery staying strong in the Threes’ ranks. In the face of the mounting scoreline, it would have been very easy for the visitors to have simply folded and given up. However, that was not the case. Strong leadership from the skipper, Alastair Ramsay, along with fresh forward carrying initiatives from substitutes Michael Calder and Tye Brown-Wolf, ensured the players were rejuvenated and momentum redistributed towards the benefit of the St Andrews players. With Aberdeen’s defence being gradually worn down, being forced into a myriad of forced errors and ill-disciplined mistakes, St Andrews’ tenacity and spirit was rewarded. A final attack by St Andrews produced a well-deserved try, scored by a powerful and determined break for the line by Type Brown-Wolf.
While the game ended in a clear victory with a score in the 60s for Aberdeen and 5 for St Andrews, the fact that such an-uncharacteristically, under-manned and outclassed Third XV side continued to play with sportsmanship, passion, and conviction until the final whistle, clearly demonstrates the deeper values of the St Andrews Rugby Club.