1st XV vs Biggar: Match Report
A family from Lancashire have been declared the World Worm Charming champions at the annual event in Cheshire. There were 144 competitors this year. Each was given a plot of three square metres, and 30 minutes in which to find as many worms in that plot as possible.
The Bowdens, from Tarleton near Preston, teased out 394 worms to win. “We’re delighted, of course,” said Mr Bowden. “But you have to keep these things in perspective’’. Wise words, indeed, from Mr Bowden, and a similar cautionary note would apply to the 44-5 result at Inverleith against Biggar.
Stewart’s Melville had a number of changes, with Ruairidh Mitchell and Conor McKay starting in the front row, Callum Hunter-Hill recalled to the second row and Hugh Lindsay accommodated in the back row. In the backs, Ciaran Whyte started on the wing.
All these players more than justified their inclusion: the lineouts worked well, the scrums were solid and Hugh’s aggression complemented Fraser Christie in the back row mix. In particular, Conor can be pleased with himself, after waiting for his opportunity and justifying his selection.
Ciaran has a physical presence and relishes the chance to run with ball in hand. The competition between Fraser Strachan and Andrew Manson is fierce – there can’t be a cigarette paper between them at the moment. Fraser came off the bench with something to prove and hustled to great effect, almost creating a try – ‘Matawalu style’ – out of nothing. They both have a decent service; Fraser is probably more aware of his surroundings and Andrew more tenacious in defence.
In the second half, Andy Warnock was introduced and this allowed Nick to operate in the New Zealand position of 2nd 5/8ths. All our opponents know about Nick – they realise that, if you don’t close him down, he will run the show. By moving him one step away from enemy fire, he gets a few more seconds to control play by assessing the options, and his booming punts up field are still there to be utilised if the situation arises.
A lot of our play this season has been workmanlike and gutsy rather than pleasing to the eye – but Saturday was different. There was the promise of a very good side, and the handling in the build up to Callum Hunter-Hill’s try showed we have some talented rugby players, with the caveat of Mr Bowden’s advice ringing in our collective ears.
Biggar arrived after running Watsonians close the previous week, but quickly realised that the wide open spaces of Inverleith are harder to defend, particularly if you are second best in the set piece.
Mike Hanning settled nerves after 17 minutes by squeezing through a gap with a hint of overlap on the outside. Nick McCashin converted and added two tries of his own, converting one. His tries were trademark McCashin, with a hint of a dummy and then deceptive strength to take him over the line.
Matt Morrell, never out of the limelight for long, was then given the overlap by Morrison, who popped up to good effect all day. The bonus point was secured and McCashin converted to give Stewart’s Melville a healthy 26–0 lead at half time.
Rugby is a tough old game and Biggar patched up their side, as best they could, as two or three combatants had taken knocks. In contrast, Stewart’s Melville emptied their bench, with all of its occupants desperate to show they should have been in the starting lineup.
Ben Wilson scored from one of those back-of-the-maul type forward drives that he undeniably relishes soon after the restart, and, although Voss replied for the visitors, the game was over. There were several passages of fluent rugby, but it was not until Callum’s aforementioned try on 72 minutes that the white line was crossed again.
In the last minute, McCashin ghosted through for his ‘hat-trick’ – and, just to prove he is a mere mortal, missed the conversion from close range. Seven tries, then, a very decent afternoon’s work and definitely much to build on.
A quick look at the league table shows Stewart’s Melville are in a good position, and we travel through to Hillhead next week. The older members of the squad know that, in spite of Hillhead Jordanhill’s lowly position, it will not be straightforward.
*The World Record Worms was set in 1980 by Mr Tom Shufflebotham, who raised 511 worms. That was from a plot of only three square yards – before the EU insisted the competition go metric. In 2009, Miss S. and Mr M. Smith charmed an incredible 567 worms from their plot – of three square metres. When you’re a worm charmer, that extra ground makes a big difference.