1st XV vs Hawick: Match Report
Leading up to the opening game in the RBS National League, Hawick had recorded impressive victories over Kelso and Gala, and looked in good shape for a quick return to the top flight. A draw against them, realistically, would have to be viewed as an acceptable outcome by the Stewart’s Melville support before the match.
But, after the game, the feeling was that we had dictated much of the play, particularly in the second half, and that, if anyone deserved to win, we did.
We have made considerable progress as a club both on and off the field in recent years. We have managed to retain the vast majority of our players and our coaching staff. The question asked on Saturday was: are we able to kick on and build on our success?
The early portents were not good, Davies rounding off a breakout from the Hawick twenty two when he accepted a nicely delayed pass from Hutton to touch down, with Renwick adding the conversion. After Trotter narrowed the gap, Sangster was on the end of some neat back play to score, with Seb converting.
A further penalty stretched our advantage, but back came Hawick to take the lead with a converted try from Hutton. A debut try from Chris Damsteegt regained our advantage but Armstrong gave Hawick the narrowest of leads, 19-18, at the break.
Before the game George Turner (septic midge bite – don’t laugh) had to be replaced by Adrian Duncan, and this meant that eighteen year old Scott Cubitt, fresh out of Dollar Academy, was selected for the bench. Scott’s father Mark, incidentally, featured in our Twickenham Sevens winning team. When Donald Sangster was injured, Scott took his chance and adapted to this level of rugby with aplomb.
Half time gave the crowd the chance to judge the other Stewart’s Melville debutants. Gregor Porteous looked good – he dealt with Cotterill, the Hawick captain, and had an eye for a break. Chris Damsteegt arrived having apparently not played for at least a season and looks a very solid, tidy rugby player. He also managed to claim two tries on the day (he can stay!)
Finally, Stewart Shaw did everything asked of him when he came on, and, as a former school captain, is obviously a good player.
Back to the action, and both sides slotted penalties until Chris forced his way over when Hawick were reduced to fourteen men. This try was well worked as, too often in the past, following sustained forward pressure we have come away with nothing. We had managed to edge our noses in front 29–22.
Unfortunately the lead was short lived, Cotterill charging down an attempted clearance to level things up. Each side scored a further penalty, with Hawick’s Armstrong holding his nerve as Renwick, their first choice kicker, was in the ‘bin’.
The question remains: can we continue to improve from last year? Certainly, we now have a bit of experience, with Willie and Phil in the forwards and Hayden, Liam, Seb and Richard in the backs. We have plenty of raw talent with George and Struan. On this evidence, if we can keep reasonably clear of injuries, it looks as if we can continue to improve.
Before the game there was a moving tribute to Steven Sims when the first and second squads linked arms and stood in silence to remember their fellow player and friend.
Phil Leck (Hawick)
‘I’m disappointed, but a draw was fair. Our set piece was better (this week) and our counter attacking was good. Stew/Mel won the contact area – you are organised and well drilled.’
Kev Brown (Stewart’s Melville forwards coach)
‘Great advert for club rugby, with two teams trying to play. OK, there were mistakes, but that happens when you are attacking from deep. Disappointed we let them back in at the end, and our forwards need to up their work rate – but it’s a good starting point. Very pleased with Hayden and Scott Cubitt. We can learn from their (Hawick’s) offloading, which was good.’
Referee Gary Gordon (Hillfoots)
‘Enjoyable game, with 64 points shared and both sides playing great attacking, running rugby.’