Pirates open season with disappointing draw against Wolves
April 10th, 2017
East Kilbride Pirates 26 – Edinburgh Wolves 26
The newly promoted Edinburgh Wolves provided Scottish opposition for the Pirates for the first time since August 2013 and the home side came perilously close to losing their 20 year old unbeaten record against other Scottish sides.
Edinburgh kicked off and immediately forced EK to go 3-and-out. They then got quickly into their own offensive stride, putting together a 6-play drive that concluded with a 24-yard TD pass from Jamie Morrison to Lloyd Dignan. Dignan’s subsequent PAT kick hit the right post and bounced wide, but the Wolves were 6-0 ahead early in the game. The teams swapped punts before East Kilbride got on the board. A long Neil Baptie pass found Craig Black inside the 10-yard line. However it wasn’t until 4th Down that Baptie ran the ball home from the 1. Steven Kane converted and the Pirates held the narrowest of leads. Edinburgh did have a chance to regain that lead with the last play of the quarter, bad a bad snap on Dignan’s 29-yard field goal attempt doused their hopes.
The second quarter started badly for the home side. A Baptie pass was picked off by Stephen MacDonald and returned to the Pirates’ 18 yard line. The men from the Capital took full advantage and Morrison again passed to Dignan, this time with a 19-yarder on 4th Down. The PAT was blocked, but the Wolves had edged ahead once more. Both teams again had to punt before a second Baptie interception turned the ball over. The pattern of punt-punt-pick was then repeated, with the Pirates being the beneficiaries this time around, Chris Dick pulling in the wayward throw. Three plays later, a breakout run by Baptie saw him gallop 56 yards to the endzone. Kane converted once more, for a 14-12 advantage that the Pirates held until the interval.
After the break, the Wolves started strongly. A good return of the kick off took them into opposition territory and a 7-play drive was capped off by a 1-yard run by Ross Young. Dignan’s PAT was successful as the lead swapped hands for the fourth time. The rest of the period was a war of attrition with Defenses on top. Then, towards the end of the quarter, the first real daylight between the sides appeared when Morrison threw his third TD of the day, finding Stuart Harrison from 21yards. Dignan then added the PAT to make it 14-26 as the game moved into the final quarter.
East Kilbride moved the ball inside the Edinburgh 10 early in the period, but three sacks in four plays saw them give up 33 yards before losing possession. Their next drive was more productive though. Starting on their own 27-yard line, the Pirates moved the ball steadily down to the Wolves’ red zone. Momentum appeared to have been lost when Baptie was intercepted and Young returned it all the way for a TD, only to see the play called back on a holding penalty against Edinburgh.
EK breathed a sigh of relief and immediately took advantage of the break when running back Scott Widdowson rounded the drive off with an 11-yard TD, and although the PAT was blocked, the gap was back to just one score. The Wolves then tried to eat some clock and force EK to use their Time Outs, although an incomplete pass did crucially leave them with one to spare as they got possession back inside the 2-minute warning. Baptie completed to Kenny Muir and two runs by Widdowson kept the ball moving. With just over 30 seconds on the clock, it was Widdowson who levelled things up, bursting through from 34 yards. Kane had the chance to win the game, but his PAT kick drifted wide right. Edinburgh did get the ball back, however a Winston Ojei sack of Morrison on third down brought the game to an end.
While the Pirates had the opportunity to steal the win in the dying seconds, that would have been harsh on an Edinburgh side that didn’t deserve to lose. The sides meet again on May 7 in what should be another close encounter. Before then, the Pirates host the Sheffield Giants on April 30 at Hamilton Rugby Club.
Report by Bill Campbell
Photos courtesy Duncan Gray, Duncolm Photography
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