ARBROATH took on Alloa in the RBS Caledonia League 3 on Saturday in what turned out to be a war of attrition that tested their resolve and determination to the full.
The visitors started much the better team with Balharry giving them an early lead when he slotted a penalty after a nicely controlled start to the game despite the horrendous pitch conditions.
Nakavulevu laid down a marker with a thunderous hit on his opposite number in the centre, which gave his comrades a massive lift and seemed to have the opposite effect on the opposition.
Collins was an early casualty in this hard fought encounter, having to retire with what turned out to be a fractured bone in his leg.
Not to be deterred, Arbroath were looking dangerous in attack and were playing with plenty of ambition despite the slippery conditions.
Standbridge was having a fine game by using his boot to great effect and steering his team into the right areas.
The partnership of Pinnington and Jones in the back row were not taking a backwards step in defence, creating plenty of turnover ball and counter attacking opportunities.
From one such passage of play, Nakavulevu bounced off two would be tacklers before jinking past another defender.
The Alloa fullback didn’t seem particularly keen to try and stop the powerhouse Fijian as he glided past to give Arbroath a 10-0 lead.
With a deficit to make up, the home side was being forced into speculative passes which were ill suited to the atrocious conditions.
Arbroath were keeping the home side at arms length with a mixture of solid defence and keeping possession for long periods of time.
Irving made a break into opposition territory supported by Rodgers. After a few phases Arbroath were camped on the Alloa try line as they battered away on the fringes of the rucks without being able to force their way over.
With the opposition drawn into the breakdown there was now space for the back line to operate. Balharry released Nakavulevu who slipped the ball to winger McKenzie who backed himself on the outside line to score in the corner to make the score 15-0 at half time.
Alloa came out all guns blazing in the second half and began to claw their way back in the possession and territory stakes.
Captain Williams was leading by example, and prevented two tries through sheer stubbornness and dogged determination.
The first saw him make a great covering tackle from behind in what looked like a hopeless situation and the second by holding up the attacker who was over the try line.
Taking inspiration from this, Arbroath were defending as if their lives depended upon it. McIntyre smashed backwards a big Alloa forward at full tilt allowing his comrades to swarm the ruck and clear their lines.
Alloa slotted a penalty to claw their way back into the game. It was all the home side now and a rear-guard action of epic proportions was needed if Arbroath were to emerge victorious.
Alloa were camped in their half and sustained pressure for about 10 minutes saw the visitors’ defence finally buckle to leave the match in the balance at 15 - 10.
However, Alloa could not breach an inspired Arbroath defence and the visitors held on for a memorable and richly deserved away victory.
Training continues at RM Condor every Thursday at 6.30 p.m.
Strathmore 2nd XV visit Arbroath tomorrow (Saturday) with a 3 p.m. kick off.