1st XV vs Hillhead Jordanhill: Match Report
- Would Willie, Nick and Rhys be able to concentrate on the scrum for thoughts of flowers, chocs and fluffy toys?
- Would there be a Valentine’s Day massacre of the top brass at Murrayfield?
- Would Princess Nicola find Plan B?
Conditions at Inverleith were in stark contrast to the mud witnessed last week at Murrayfield, with the ground perfectly playable. This whole nematode thing is a bit fishy – why do the little blighters not attack Myreside, Meggetland and other rugby grounds in the area – not to mention Tynecastle, a stone’s throw away? Is it not more to do with there being no sun on the pitch at Murrayfield?
Hillhead kicked off with the wind, towards Ferry Road, and had the better of the opening exchanges. They arrived without Joe Stafford and Nick McAulay, two gentlemen that have proved difficult adversaries in the past, and with our own Angus Lean pressed into service in the row. At the first scrum, it became apparent that we held the upper hand in this area. It took until the seventh minute for us to establish a foothold in the Hillhead half and McCashin’s penalty attempt, although well struck, drifted wide.
There then followed fifteen minutes of home pressure brought about through the control we had in the scrum. Matt Morrell (AKA Yellow Soft Top or YST – see Dundee report), Mike Hanning and Neil Bowie all found a way through the defence in the manner of England’s Luther Burrell last week, but, crucially, the weight of the pass meant all knocked the ball on.
Nick McCashin then missed the centres and released the Yellow Soft Top – this week fitted with Bridgestone slicks – to cruise in at the corner after twenty minutes.
Ruaridh Stewart then touched down as the Hillhead scrum were marched unceremoniously over the line. A good scrum and decent half backs will take you a long way in our league, given that most games are played through the Scottish winter. At the moment we have both, as, in addition to our scrum, Fraser Strachan and Nick McCashin, the half backs, are both rugby players that play with their heads up. Fraser has certainly taken a leaf out of Cusiter’s book with his on-field chat.
The possession this dominance gives you in the right areas of the field means that chances will inevitably occur. Although mistakes are made, there is the comfort of knowing that another opportunity will present itself. In contrast, Hillhead couldn’t get the ball, and, when they did, their best chance of success lay with the forwards recycling, as our backs looked altogether a slicker unit.
Like Princess Nicola, a lack of plan B cost Hills Jills dear, and, when Goulden received a yellow for persistent infringement in the scrum, to be followed shortly afterwards by McPherson (who took one for the team), they were up against it.
When the opposition is two men down it is important to take advantage (Gary Locke – please note!) and, although the forty minutes were up, we retained control by opting for scrums from the resultant penalty. Dave Hampton ran a good line to touch down and McCashin converted to make the score 17-0.
With Hillhead still reduced in numbers after the break and kicking possession back at us, McCashin pirouetted as he accepted a clearance kick then the ball was moved from the resultant ruck through the hands to where the YST was accelerating into top gear to secure the bonus point try. Whittingham was next on the score sheet as he came off his left foot to power over after Hanning and Hampton had made the initial break.
The scoring for Stewart’s Melville was completed on the hour mark by the YST, who came off his wing and accepted the reverse inside pass to touch down without a hand being laid on him for his hat trick. Seventeen points in each half.
A word about Stuart Wilson – he has tremendous appetite for the ball on the deck. He manages to get a hand on a ball that the opposition should really secure, and what a fillip that is for his teammates.
Substitutions followed, including a promising introduction for Chris Beattie; although the substitutes performed manfully, our dominance in the scrum evaporated. Hillhead started to get the ball and showed that, round the fringes, they had some decent players that could carry the ball. Andy Leslie and Blair McPherson both scored as the game petered out for Stewart’s Melville.
Jordanhill, with no threat of relegation and a few injuries, played like we would play if the boot was on the other foot, and, to some extent, they were going through the motions. It is, therefore, to Kelso’s immense credit that, similarly, with nothing but pride at stake, they managed to comprehensively lower Watsonians’ colours at Myreside. This pride is what makes Borders sides difficult to beat, and is why we need to turn up with our ‘A’ game in a fortnight.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Another three wins
And we are out of Div2
‘Evening News’ report