1st XV vs Hamilton: Match Report
If this match had taken place six months ago, we would have probably have lost – but such is the resolve we now have, that, when Hamilton drew level, we were able to up our game and put in a strong last eight minutes to earn a bonus point victory.
McLeish (2) and Manning (1) traded early penalties before Shannon Durrant powered over after impressive forward control to give Stewart’s Melville an 8-6 advantage. The backs looked full of running, and, when Adam Greig, showing decent pace, and Craig Marshall combined – opposite the stand and playing towards the castle – Craig got the touchdown.
With Mr Damsteegt Snr visiting from Otago and watching proudly in the stand, Chris got the next try. This followed a patient build up from the pack and was close enough to the uprights for Mike Hanning to add the extras: 20-6 to Stewart’s Melville after half an hour.
We were playing with such pace and continuity that further scores seemed inevitable, but a combination of a determined response from our visitors, the difficult playing surface and a few wrong options meant that Hamilton had the best of the next ten minutes. It looked as if we had weathered the storm, but, on the stroke of half time, Selfridge picked up from an advancing 5 metre scrum and touched down under the posts. The resulting conversion meant the gap was down to a goal at half time. As has been observed before, we often concede near the break, which means the opposition get a lift along with their interval oranges.
It would be a bit of an understatement to say that our lineout ‘had enjoyed better days’, however credit must be given to Maxton (a long standing colleague and adversary) and McGeough, who both contested our throws expertly. It was only towards the end, when Isaac Miller came on as a substitute and threw every ball away from the aforementioned pair to the tail, that we secured our own ball. But credit where it is due – at least we thought of a solution and implemented it.
Against Heriot’s, the opposition backs ran quick lineouts, and we might have used this ploy to take the pressure off our jumpers – but the Hamilton chasing backs were alert and closed us down quickly. Once again Ben tidied up retreating scrum ball well, though, to be fair to our pack, the Hamilton front row are particularly well fed individuals. The scrum put-ins never looked straight, but, in discussion with the referee, it is the least of her priorities, and we are not going to get the award unless the hooker contests the strike. Refereeing the break down is the most difficult part of officiating, but ref Mhairi Hay knows what she is looking for, and, by and large, she was consistent.
The second half was full of frustration as we struggled for first phase ball and our kicking from hand was uncharacteristically wayward. Hamilton’s equalising try came from our throw on the opposition 10 yard line when Maxton pilfered possession; Ross Inglis made the break before the support eventually released Maxton, who had covered the sixty yards to plunge over.
Stewart’s Melville accepted the challenge to regain the lead and the forwards kept advancing with rolling mauls. Mike Hanning popped over a penalty, and, finally, Joni Hare emerged from the bottom of the pile to claim the bonus point try.
This Friday sees a cup game against Boroughmuir at Meggetland (7.30 pm), then, the following Friday, a league match at Myreside (7.30 pm), two fixtures that the coaches and players are eagerly anticipating – so please try and get down to support them.