1st XV vs Boroughmuir: Match Report
To paraphrase MLK: ‘I had a dream that … Stewart’s Melville would be at the top of the league at the end of the campaign’. I know, brothers and sisters, that my dream isn’t as profound as Martin Luther King’s – but there will be a group of sides in the hunt for honours in the National League, and we could yet be amongst them.
To lose a match in the last minute that we had led throughout was disappointing, but Boroughmuir scored three tries to our one and we never scored a point after half-time, so we can’t really complain.
With the Seconds securing a last minute victory against their Boroughmuir counterparts, there is, however, little to separate the two clubs at the moment. The clubhouse was busy and there was a good crowd as two old adversaries slugged it out on the pitch. There was a sense of occasion about the place.
The Club flag was at half-mast in memory of Andrew McMenigall, a former player, loyal supporter and all round good egg, who, tragically, lost his life in a cycling accident during the summer. Our thoughts are with his family.
At National One level, if you have a decent pack and half-backs (about which more later) you are going to be difficult to beat, and we certainly seem well equipped on both these counts. We pretty much controlled things early on, and, after McCashin had edged us in front, Morrell – not for the first time – looked lively and finished off a move that Pech had started. Both our wingers looked eager for the ball and asked questions of the Boroughmuir defence.
Unfortunately, immediately after this try was converted, a midfield fumble led to Boroughmuir establishing territorial advantage in our forty yard area, and, try as we might, we could not reclaim the ball. Boroughmuir eschewed several kickable penalties into the tricky wind in favour of the set piece, and it looked as if their confidence in their scrum was justified. Just as it seemed as though we had weathered the storm, Sam Johnson, a tidy little player, touched down beside the club house to narrow the gap.
McCashin then converted a penalty after the forwards had rumbled effectively to make the score 13-5 at half time. A feature of our play last year was our rolling mauls, and, as the season progresses and the players get used to each other, it will develop this year as well.
‘More of the same’ was the instruction from the coaches for the second half, but it seemed harder to control the game. Our former player Joni Hare was a pest at the front of the lineout, interrupting what had been a seamless source of possession, and he and Cal Davies, the hooker, were the pick of the Boroughmuir players.
David Leckie, with his only successful kick of the afternoon, narrowed the gap, but then occurred the game changing moments. Into the last fifteen minutes, we first of all lost Ross Samson to the ‘bin’ when we were in an attacking position. This was cancelled out when Cox ‘lost it’ for Boroughmuir. McCashin was then ‘binned’ for what was deemed deliberately slowing the game down.
Our half backs, hitherto our mainstay, were sitting on the bench, unable to contribute, and the momentum had turned in favour of our visitors. In addition, Struan Allan’s hamstring had had enough action for one day and Sam Rowlands replaced him.
Malcolm Clapperton used all his experience to touch down to leave Leckie with a straightforward conversion for the lead, but it found the left upright and bounced out. The scores were tied and it looked like we might escape with the draw – but, from the restart, Boroughmuir had the bit between their teeth. They found enough numbers at the stand side to allow Farquharson to canter home. And that was that: 13 -18. The Boroughmuir camp felt it was a bit of a steal – but we didn’t finish the job, we didn’t serve out, we didn’t hole that putt on the eighteenth.
What we did do, however, was show plenty of rugby throughout. McCashin and Samson brought in supporting players beautifully, our back row had the better of their opposite numbers and our newcomers are decent rugby players that will only get better.