1st XV vs GHA: Match Report
Gordon MacPherson*, former All Black player and current GHA coach, was the more satisfied coach after Saturday’s game. He reasoned that, if his players had played the same way in the second half as they had in the first, he was looking at the wrong end of a sixty pointer. Instead, they travelled home with two points in the bag, having ‘won’ the second half.
Stewart’s Melville have now won six games in a row – and some pretty big ones at that. A second half dip against GHA could, perhaps, be excused, as the game was seemingly won, and next week’s Boroughmuir match looming on the horizon – particularly as the first half performance against GHA was so good.
We emptied the bench to give everyone a run, and, in truth, lost our shape a bit – but, unsurprisingly, our coach, Bruce MacNaughton, was having none of it. He argued that the players have set the standard of how we can play this season, and the last half hour was unacceptably sloppy.
As our team develops this season, we have discovered two wingers who just want to run and beat people. And, after five minutes of constant pressure, Whittingham was given a one on one beside the clubhouse – a challenge that he accepted with alacrity to open our account. Whittingham, again, was then given space with a clever decoy move to double the lead and ran in unopposed. Further pressure on the GHA try line led to a yellow card for Rangi Jericevich for an infringement at the ruck.
McCashin then changed direction quicker than a Unite shop steward to give Morrell the scoring pass and extend our lead to 17 points. Matt Morrell then turned provider as he fed Dave Hampton to give Whittingham the bonus point try.
Half time, then, saw the score at 22-0, our forwards having played their parts in this half with a commanding scrum from Morgan, Howie and Anderson, great scramble defence from Ben Wilson and some excellent support play from Fraser Morrison.
Rugby is predominately a team game and attracts individuals who thrive in a collective environment where they feel they are ‘loved’ and that their contribution is vital to the team’s success. One such individual is Fraser Strachan, who turned in his best performance so far in Stewart’s Melville colours. He is an undeniably tidy footballer who rarely takes the wrong option.
In the first half GHA had not been able to capitalise on breaks from Lang and Edgar, but, after half time, they were rewarded for their efforts with a good try from Lang. Struan Allan then battered his way over to give Nick a kick in front of the sticks and Matt Morrell appeared on the right to extend our lead to 34-7.
Ruaridh was yellow carded at this point, and, if last week he was decidedly unlucky to see yellow – this week it was guilty as charged, M’Lud, as he prevented fair release of the ball.
Back came GHA, and, after several ‘roll round the corners’, we ran out of tacklers and Lang again scored.
Although our replacements performed well individually, the team performance dropped and we started to get penalised more often. We tried to do too much when we got the ball rather than play with patience and recycle.
With five minutes to go, GHA scored through Couper and then Binnie scored at the death. All GHA’s tries were goaled, meaning they collected a losing bonus point and the four try bonus point.
It is anyone’s guess what the visiting Boroughmuir observer could report back, such was the mixed bag on offer.
To Meggetland next week, then, with a huge away support. Mission: topple the hitherto unbeaten league leaders!
*Gordon MacPherson may have been a one-match All Black, but he will always have an indelible position in the folklore of New Zealand rugby. For he was part of the sorely depleted and grossly inexperienced “Baby Blacks” side which, against all predictions, scored an upset win over France in the one-off international in 1986 at Lancaster Park. As were nearly all of the players in that match apart from John Kirwan and David Kirk, MacPherson was only involved because New Zealand’s leading players had all been banned for two internationals for having taken part in the Cavaliers’ tour of South Africa.