1st XV vs Heriot’s: Match Report
Ultimately, the superior all round pace and physicality of Heriot’s proved too much for a Stewart’s Melville side that gave a disciplined and committed performance that had their more fancied visitors playing second best for much of the game.
Playing away from the club house, Stewart’s Melville opened the scoring before all the pre-match diners had emptied from the function suite. Niall Shannon emerged from the bottom of the pile and took the congratulations, but whether he or Ben Manning got the final touch was difficult to establish. The move came from one of those catch and drive, five yard lineouts that we are becoming rather good at.
It was all Stew Mel at this stage, and Scott Brewster led a charge from the home 22, linking well with the back row, that eventually resulted in a try for Shannon Durrant.
Heriot’s rarely ventured into home territory, and panic set in as they constantly infringed or chose the wrong option.
Continual infringement meant first Nimmo then Cessford saw yellow. Ben Manning took advantage of the reduced numbers to barge over and establish a 15 point cushion.
Our pack had scored three tries but we had found gaps in their backs harder to manufacture.
Liam was returning any kicks with interest, and, on one occasion, when a visiting three-quarter burst clean through, Liam shepherded him on the outside and wrapped him with a copybook tackle when a try really should have resulted.
It was a sign of things to come, however, and Heriot’s clawed back five points just before half time when Max Learmonth sent Rory Carmichael in at the clubhouse corner.
Mike Hanning drew a penalty through the posts two minutes after the restart, but that was to be our last score of the match as the pacey Heriot’s three-quarters revelled in the wide open spaces at Inverleith.
Next Sam Hidalgo-Clyne accepted a wayward kick and offloaded to Cammy Ferguson, who released Graham Wilson – the Heriot’s captain and a solid citizen for a number 9 – for the try. The Heriot’s backs, including former StewMel player Harry Boisseau, looked full of running and frequently took quick penalties or quick lineouts that asked questions of our defence.
With Nick Whittle on for Shannon Durrant, we kept competing against greater physique, but some good hard rugby led to Bryce scoring two very similar tries. His second score was converted by Wilson to give Heriot’s the lead after an hour, and, really, there was no way back.
Matt Hannay, Neil Bowie (desperate to be involved) and Roddy Mackenzie came on as substitutes, but Gavin Cameron and Jamie Parker completed the scoring for Heriot’s to give them a 32-18 win.
The general feeling after the game was satisfaction that we had stepped up and competed well with our more illustrious opponents, and that there were lessons to be learned. Heriot’s were able to up the pace and had the skills to execute, whereas, as we tired, we started to need more players to make the tackles.
The match was a big occasion, enjoyed by both sets of supporters, and demonstrated that we have the ability to play at a higher level, which augers well for the remainder of the season.
Finally, the referee, Lloyd Linton from Aberdeen, is an up and coming referee and has a big match in Wales next week. It is important that Scottish referees are involved in the higher echelons of our game, so good luck to him.