1st XV Match Report vs Selkirk

1st XV Match Report vs Selkirk

Stewart’s Melville v Selkirk 18/2/17

The collective roar of relief that emanated from the stand at 4.40 on Saturday was palpable. The victory was hard fought but deserved – and season defining. We now sit 13 points ahead of the second relegation spot with four games to go – two against the occupants of those spots. Anything is possible, but you would like to think  ….

DSC_0039_editSelkirk brought their usual large and vociferous support, buoyed by parents and youngsters who had participated earlier in matches against their Stewart’s Melville counterparts. On a perfect day for rugby, the clubhouse and pitches were swarming with ‘younguns’ – it gladdens the heart for the future of our game and our club.

A late change saw Jack Hannay withdraw from the side with a nasty back niggle, aggravated during the warm-up; he was replaced by Neil Bowie.

Ciaran Whyte, about whom much has been written previously – in Stewart’s Melville colours –  in these columns, scored all Selkirk’s points. His try, which he converted, came after 15 minutes, backing up a break that found an uncharacteristic hole through our defensive line around the half way. Tom Spowart then strayed offside defending a ruck for Ciaran to give Selkirk a ten point cushion. Ciaran, then, mercifully (from a Stewart’s Melville point of view) overcooked a penalty kick to the corner to allow us to escape without further damage – we didn’t want Ciaran to enjoy his return to Inverleith too much!

DSC_0021_editStewart’s Melville settled somewhat, establishing superiority in the lineout through Hodgson, about whom more later, and getting to grips with the Selkirk front row including the redoubtable Cooney and Graur – sizeable citizens. Good hands involving Morrison made room for Seb who (altogether now) trotted home. Seb has brought much needed composure and experience to our side and has a happy knack of anticipating a potential opening. Morrison banged over the conversion to reduce the deficit to three points.

We camped on the Selkirk line and managed to butcher a couple of half gaps before Angus Wallace proved unstoppable from two metres. Morrison, from practically the same spot as his previous kick, secured the extras on the stroke of half time.

Half Time Stewart’s Melville 14 Selkirk 10

A penalty soon after the break reduced the deficit to one point but gradually Stewart’s Melville took control. Selkirk conceded multiple penalties defending their line and the yellow card had to come; sure enough, Macdougall took his ten minutes in the corner – facing the wall and no smirking.

Round and round those rucks we rolled – glaciers have moved quicker – until someone had the idea of giving it to the backs, Ferguson exploded onto the pop pass in midfield and he is a big boy to stop from five yards. Morrison converted – ten minutes to go.

DSC_0078_editStraight from the restart we conceded a penalty and that completed the scoring but not the tension. Stewart’s Melville had the game by the proverbial scruff of the neck but Selkirk never gave up. We knew the potential threat of Tythan Adams’ pace and ability to run the length from video recordings, but somehow, he never got a sniff. Tythan, bravely, opted to tackle Finn on the charge when many in his position would have, as they say, ‘fallen off the tackle’.

Gregor Porteous controlled the last five minutes by taking a leaf out of Greig Laidlaw’s book at scrum time and feeding the ‘water carriers’ (forwards) rather than the ‘athletes’ (backs) – strange, then, to go for a quick lineout in the final seconds. On reflection, we had plenty of opportunities to secure the bonus point try, with Sean, Finn and Neil left with one man to beat at various points in the game. But it is unnecessary to carp on about that: before the game, we would have been delighted with the win.

Jamie Hodgson is emerging this season as a real prospect as a player; a former school captain, he is in the Scottish age group system and is an athlete. He carries well, dominates the lineout and looks comfortable at all times – it’s a ten from Len. In the backs, Euan Morrison deserves the plaudits with his angle of attack and ability to retain the ball – great qualities that he brings to the game.

DSC_0127_editA word about the organisation that is required to make our National Leagues happen. The referee, Ian Kenny, enjoyed his game – which is just as well, as he had travelled from Aberdeen. He might be called to run the line at Troon next; that is how he spends his weekends, and we should be grateful that there are individuals like him that give up their free time to allow our leagues to function.

In an effort to secure our place in National One, the Stadium Announcer has indicated that, if relegated, he will announce in his pants next season. Don’t let it happen – we are not speaking Gary Lineker here – it’s not pretty.

Full Time Stewart’s Melville 21 Selkirk 16

Gavin Calder

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