1st XV vs Boroughmuir: Match Report
In a display of bravery only eclipsed by events that unfolded later at Murrayfield, Stewart’s Melville ultimately fell short by two points in their Cup game at Inverleith against Boroughmuir. Whilst it might be stretching the truth to suggest we merited a victory, the feeling in the camp afterwards was that this was one that got away.
The starting lineup was altered by illness to Fraser Morrison and injury to Fraser Christie, meaning starts for Ruaridh Stewart and Conor McKay. Injuries throughout the game to Angus Rennie, Callum Hunter-Hill, Andrew Warnock and the aforementioned Ruaridh meant Tom Spowart and Ben Docherty were required to step up from reserve team rugby to face Premiership opposition.
Although, physically, the combination of Tom and Ben could never be confused with the Gray brothers, they competed manfully throughout. Indeed, Ben is reminiscent of Stuart Clark in that his athleticism allows him to be hoisted in the lineout, and he displayed enough to be marked down as a prospect.
Boroughmuir are finding life tough on their return to the Premiership and currently occupy what would be the play-off spot against the runners up in the National League (and that spot is our target). They played as if they were short in confidence, largely ignoring the obvious tactic of just using the superior physical attributes in their pack to smash the ball up. Instead, they varied their play by attacking through their three-quarters, where Stewart’s Melville were probably a match for them.
The ploy of playing Andrew Warnock at stand-off, with McCashin one step away from the traffic, was successful, and Andrew mixed his defensive chores with some nice chips, until, unfortunately, retiring clutching his shoulder after half time.
Uncharacteristically, Nick missed his first straightforward pot at goal, but he looked to have made amends with a more difficult second attempt – only for it to hit the post and bounce out. In spite of great home defence, Farquharson squeezed in at the corner for Boroughmuir after quarter of an hour, and that was to be the pattern of the first half. It has to be said that we struggled to win ball in the lineout, and that contributed to our lack of possession.
McCashin opened our account eight minutes after the restart but Rose responded from a driving maul. Living off scraps and running quick penalties – with Manson and Lindsay to the fore – we slowly came to terms with our more fancied opponents. It was no real surprise, therefore, when, after some great continuity rugby, McCashin released Morrell with an open road in front of him. Matt does not need a second invitation to engage the DRS, and Nick’s conversion from the corner meant we had a three point advantage with five minutes plus injury time to last out.
You sensed Boroughmuir would come back strong, and that our young side would do well to hold on. It seems to be a difficult task (and not only for Stewart’s Melville) to take the restart after you have scored and re-establish territory in the opposition half – and so it proved. We infringed at the restart and Boroughmuir sensibly kicked to the corner for a rolling maul; one or two rucks later and replacement scrum-half Sam Johnson touched down.
The clock said full time but we played out injury time looking for a chink of light in the Boroughmuir defence; sadly, it was not to be.
We’ve no game next Saturday – which might give some time for injuries to heal – and then Peebles visit Inverleith for the last game in the first round of fixtures. We have a group of talented and enthusiastic youngsters who just need a bit of self-belief, so let’s give them the support they deserve.
As Rabbit Angstrom said: ‘After you have been first rate at something, no matter what, it kind of takes the kick out of being second rate.’
Let’s continue to put in the hard yards to be first rate.