1st XV vs GHA: Match Report
Although Stewart’s Melville lost by 5 tries to 2, the feeling in the clubhouse after the match on Saturday was that the wounds incurred on our campaign for the play-off spot were mainly self-inflicted.
A careless start by Stewart’s Melville saw Jericevich chase a grubber kick on the blind-side of the defence to give GHA an early foothold by touching down in the north-east corner.
GHA had travelled through on a recent run that had seen them fall away a bit from their early season form, so the encouragement they received from their early try was palpable. Similarly that early reverse was so unlike our play this season that it sort of set the tone for what was to follow.
Back came Stewart’s Melville, however, with a lovely flowing move that saw Mike Hanning romp in under the posts, McCashin adding the conversion to give Stewart’s Melville the lead for the only time in the match.
GHA pillaged ball from a mis-firing home lineout, and, eventually, Brogan found space to touch down in the same corner as the first try.
GHA then lost a couple of players through injury, but, tellingly, Carson, the prop, was to return. In his absence it looked as if Stewart’s Melville might engineer scrummage dominance, but, on his return, that avenue was closed.
The rest of the half belonged to Stewart’s Melville after McCashin landed a penalty to tie the scores, but a mixture of poor final passes and committed defence saw us unable to breach the GHA defence. GHA grew in confidence from repelling the onslaught, and, with half time approaching, Malcolm managed to score following an effective rolling maul. It felt like, every time GHA were in our territory, they returned with points.
McCashin landed an impressive penalty from the 10 metre line to make the score 15-13 to GHA at the break.
Although GHA had the lead, the pattern of play suggested that we had enough about us to prevail eventually. In these situations the next try is often crucial – and so it proved, as Brogan scored beside Willie’s house. This time Jericevich was successful with the conversion.
If that try was a tad soft, there was very little that could have been done about GHA’s final touch down. Matt Morrell seemed to have a speculative up and under covered, only for that stupid shaped ball we play with to bounce horribly at an acute angle into the grateful arms of Auld. Jericevich’s kick meant the gap was now 16 points.
The bench was fully employed, with Gregor Porteous and Ben Johnstone keen to do what they could to make their mark. Matt Morrell was eventually released on overdrive to claw us back into the contest. The tempo had been raised, as McCashin converted and added a monster of a penalty to reduce the gap to six points with six minutes left.
GHA had, however, enough control of their set piece to see out time, and, with the prize in sight, flew into tackles – so that was that.
In true Stewart’s Melville fashion we have made this play-off target a lot harder, but, if we take maximum points from our game in hand, there is only one point in it – and we have a superior points difference. In addition, we both have Dundee High to play at Mayfield, as well as those involved in the relegation ‘dogfight’, – so it ain’t over ‘till it’s over.
Some of our play this season has been terrific, with Lindsay, Hanning, McCashin and Wilson to the fore, and this correspondent opines that a play-off place is still within our grasp.
Our normally parsimonious defence leaked five tries – so let’s get back to what we are good at.
It’s all as peculiar as the distinction in the 1950s and ’60s between amateur and professional cricketers. Amateurs’ initials came before their names; professionals’ came after. Thus did Lord’s correct a misprint in the scorecard: “For FJ Titmus, read Titmus FJ.”