1st XV vs Biggar: Match Report
Walter Mitty was an inconsequential man who preferred to live through his heroic fantasies rather than face the reality of his every day existence. As a rugby club, we have had our share of Walter Mitty’s in the past. Perhaps, in contrast, there is an honesty about the present squad, in that they will listen to instruction, knuckle down and improve. That honesty hasn’t, perhaps, always been there in the past.
Under normal circumstances, a bonus point win against Biggar would have been warmly welcomed – but the underlying emotion at Inverleith was one of relief, as the consequence of defeat on the season was unthinkable.
Playing towards the Castle, and only four minutes after play started, Christy O’Donnell beautifully drew his man before giving Alan Whittingham the scoring pass to let him touch down in the corner. With Mike Hanning converting via a post, we established an early lead and settled obvious anxieties.
We had several opportunities to extend this advantage but basic handling errors let us down. The forwards looked to have the upper hand in the set piece and the loose. Biggar were, however, determined to have their say, particularly Arthur and Rutherford – two long time adversaries who fought hard for their jersey. The rolling maul, which has long been a profitable option for us, proved to be so again, and Ben Wilson dotted down to extend our advantage. Unfortunately, from an easier position, Mike Hanning missed the conversion.
Inexorably, Biggar came back at us, and the sin binning of Struan Allan for a tip tackle gave them a foothold. The tackle seemed more by accident than design, but ‘rules is rules’, so off he marched. Scott Brewster then followed him into the bin for tackling in an offside position.
With the first 40 minutes gone, it seemed as if we had weathered the storm – but Parker had other ideas, taking a quick penalty himself and jinking over to narrow the gap and leave us with a 12-7 advantage at the interval.
Once we got back to full complement, and with the wind at our backs, the home support were confident that, if we competed in the right areas, the correct result for us should follow. Biggar, characteristically, had other ideas, and Sullivan, a tidy player, broke through to level matters. Parker slotted the conversion to hand Biggar the lead.
The replacements, in particular Willie Aitken, upped our performance, and it wasn’t too long before Jonathan Hamblin touched down after a rolling maul from line out possession. The conversion was missed, meaning the margin was only three points, and thoughts drifted back to Hartree Mill a year ago, when we had Biggar under the cosh and they ran the length to win it.
A penalty in front of the posts was turned down, much to the derision of the nervous home support, but, from the ensuing play involving an uncontested scrum, Christy O’Donnell latched on to a loose ball to settle matters and secure a bonus point.
Dave Hampton put in another wholehearted display; in particular, his selfless falling on the ball to secure possession would put many a back row to shame. Fraser Strachan was a thorn in Biggar’s side and Ruaridh Stewart enjoyed his afternoon by working hard.
Nobody at Inverleith was getting carried away over this performance, but such is the competitiveness in the National League that a small improvement could yield big dividends in terms of future results. Hard work and – unlike Walter – engaging with reality could bring its rewards