1st XV vs Boroughmuir: Match Report
It’s fitting that the match report on Saturday’s game that appeared in Monday’s ‘News‘ was illustrated with a photo of Mike Hanning tackling our old mate Marsh. For, if our well deserved victory at Meggetland was down to one thing, it was our defence.
On a nice day for ducks, we tackled like tigers, snuffing out the threat posed by the dangerous ‘Muir backline and making life miserable for their half backs. I wasn’t at the Ball on Saturday evening, but will wager that all the 1st XV players in attendance were moving a little gingerly on the dancefloor – they really had put their bodies on the line for the club that afternoon.
It wasn’t just our defence that made the difference, though. Another key element in our victory was our handling, which was excellent despite the bloody awful conditions. Mike Hanning didn’t drop anything all day, while the chain of supply from Fraser to Cash to the backline was almost as reliable.
Our decision making was also excellent. While some of Mike’s up and unders were a bit wayward, and Cash kicked the ball straight out on the full a couple of times, they still combined to ensure that we played the game, for the most part, in the right areas of the pitch. Just as ‘Muir threatened to build up a head of steam, we would nick the ball off them – take a collective bow, Sangy, Ben and Ruaridh – and launch it back down the pitch.
The final factor in our victory – apart from the sheer determination shown by the players to avenge that last gasp defeat back at Inverleith in August – was the solidity of our scrum. When ‘Muir swapped props fifteen minutes into the second half, a cry of ‘That’s one down, Willie!’ went up from our technical area, and you couldn’t really argue with that.
Our penalty try, awarded by Kiwi ref James McPhail early in the second half, came when a ‘Muir player hacked the ball away as our pack were about to march over the line for the pushover, while we has previously stood firm on a couple of occasions when the ‘Muir forwards began advancing towards our own line via rolling mauls. Our lineout may have faltered a few times on Saturday, but the scrum was magnificent throughout.
We had enjoyed much the better of the opening period in the game, Ben nearly scoring at the clubhouse corner early on after he hacked the ball towards the ‘Muir line (above), while Mike Hanning kept ‘Muir on the back foot via his up and unders. Big Jon Hamblin also came close to scoring but knocked on in a ruck close to the try line.
Our first points came on 15 minutes when Cash landed a penalty from just outside the 22. He repeated the feat 6 minutes thereafter after ‘Muir were penalised for a high hit on Neil Bowie.
‘Muir mounted their first meaningful attack of the half after 25 minutes, a lineout on the stand side and a neat chip and chase by Coxy leading to a passage of play where only a fine tackle by Fraser Strachan prevented a try by winger Jordan Webster. The home side were, however, awarded a penalty in front of the posts shortly thereafter, Bruce Reekie knocking the ball over to make the score 6-3 in our favour.
Struan hirpled off after 35 minutes, Seb taking his place alongside Dave Hampton in the midfield.
We began the second half well, with Sangy being held up over the line after good work by Ziggy and Fraser. We then got our reward via the aforementioned penalty try, Cash converting to make the score 13-3.
We made further changes after the try, Jon and Nick Hart being replaced by MoMo and Adam Howie.
‘Muir started to turn the screw as the half went on, spinning the ball wide and benefitting from a succession of penalties. Their only try of the game came after we had been camped in our 22 for what seemed like ten minutes, replacement Johnny Adams sliding over after taking a quick tap penalty before we had a chance to set our defence once again. The conversion from Reekie made the score 13-10, with maybe 5 minutes left on the clock.
‘Muir continued to press for the rest of the game, our one significant moment of respite coming when Cash had an unsuccessful pop at goal from the edge of his range. The game had “Last minute penalty to earn ‘ Muir the draw” written all over it, but our players maintained their discipline and we hung on for a fine win.
I know Gav likes to single particularly deserving players out for special praise at the end of his match reports, so I am going to doff my virtual cap to young Ruaridh Stewart, who put in a power of work at the breakdown, spoiling ‘Muir ball so often that the home half backs must still be cursing him. See above for details!
Sangy also deserves a special mention for being so offside (yet still unpenalised) towards the end of the game that the ref must have thought he was returning from the 2s game on the bottom pitch at Meggetland …
Must finish by mentioning the gracious way in which our former players accepted the defeat – spoke to Joni, Marsh and the spectating Roddy Mackenzie after the game, and all were a credit to their new club. Rugby’s good like that!