1st XV vs Biggar: Match Report
To quote the old saying, ‘failure to prepare is preparing to fail’. We certainly prepared for Saturday’s game thoroughly – we had a joint contact training session with Accies on Tuesday night – and we executed our game plan perfectly against Biggar until the last fifteen minutes.
Liam kicked well from hand behind the Biggar backs and the follow up tackles made life difficult for our hosts. We knew how Biggar would play, and, when Arthur and Faamausili peeled round the side expecting to make ground, they were repeatedly repulsed – or, when their centres came crashing back into the forwards, there was a reception committee in wait. It was never going to be a game for the purist – the deluge before the match put paid to that – but our front five enjoyed the game and can be well satisfied with their showing.
The game started disappointingly with a penalty that Parker converted. Initially, we closed Biggar’s overlap down and it looked as if we had weathered the early storm, however, the referee adjudged we had acted illegally in securing a turnover and so we coughed up three points.
With the conditions underfoot slippery, points were going to be at a premium, so it was with relief that we drew level and then eased ahead through Stu’s boot. Jamie Allan came on for Hayden (who felt his groin tighten) but conditions were such that back play was going to be restricted to chases and hits.
Most of the first half was played around the Biggar 22 and we had several rolling mauls from line-outs that really should have resulted in a try. There was always a final knock on, accidental offside or wrong option to spoil it. Let’s not be too hard on ourselves – we watch Scotland’s finest do the same thing countless times on the television.
After half time Stu accelerated through a gap and backed himself to touch down, and, after his conversion and subsequent penalty, we were 19-3 up. The try was straightforward enough, following the machinations of the previous half. But, perceptibly, the momentum turned towards Biggar; we were now in no man’s land, unsure whether to ‘stick or twist’, and Biggar (with nothing to lose) flung on the ‘kitchen sink’.
Where, previously, we had kicked for position, we started to get caught in possession. We were penalised twice for delaying the throw in. The corner in front of the clubhouse churned up as we were forced to play out the last ten to fifteen minutes in our 22.
The crowd roared encouragement for Biggar and roared at the officials, and it started to get to us. But there were two ‘gamechangers’: Parker missed a relatively straightforward penalty that would have reduced the difference to less than a goal and, later, when kicking a penalty for position, Biggar missed the corner and we were able to touch down for a twenty two drop out.
In the closing minutes Sheres – a player, by the way – took a short penalty to himself and twisted his way over. The conversion made it 16-22: we couldn’t blow it, could we? No – surely not! The restart was in injury time and we managed to see play out until the final whistle with our hearts very firmly in our mouths.
Incidentally, we might have found our own player in Andrew Hughes. That was his best game for us: he handled well in tricky conditions, running the ball back at Biggar. He is a big lad, and, until he picked up a knock late on, really looked the part. He is by no means the finished article, but the raw potential is there.
‘Cross that they got a bonus point out of that. We should have finished them off.’
Gary Parker (Biggar coach – and it’s great to see one of the characters of Scottish Rugby back at Biggar, enjoying himself)
‘We couldn’t keep the ball for 4 or 5 minutes, and our response came too late. I’m not saying we should have – but we could have won that.’
Clarky’s mum – ‘Have we ever won here before?’
Seumas MacKenzie and Harry Boisseau should be back in October. Sam Blackwood is available – Angus Lean in a month.