1st XV vs Hillhead Jordanhill: Match Report
The Hughenden club are having a very difficult start to their campaign, having lost no fewer than 22 players for various reasons during the close season, and, indeed, they deserve much credit for still managing to put out two teams.
Regardless, the Glasgow venue has never been a happy hunting ground for the RBG, and both XVs were well warned of the difficult task ahead. The caution proved well placed, with both outfits encountering highly motivated and spirited opponents determined to put a spanner in the works of the Stew Mel campaign.
I am not a great fan of matches on adjoining pitches. One is never very sure which game to watch and ends up never quite getting the full drama of either game — whilst suffering twice the anxiety! Primarily, I was there to watch the 2nds, and witnessed our youthful XV struggling at times against a wily group of rugby aficionados in appalling conditions.
Our fast running and handling game suffered on the storm bound pitch and the high error count allowed the Glasgow men to remain firmly in contact well into the second half. The cause was not helped by the uncontested scrums requested by our opponents, and it was only in the final quarter of the match that we managed to make our superiority count.
The final score of 32-13 (including a bonus point for 4 tries) was a reflection of superiority but our young team will have learnt a valuable lesson about performing in truly testing weather. Ambition has to be tempered with caution and pragmatism. It was particularly pleasing to see Angus Rennie and Tom Croy returning to the fray after recovering from nasty injuries.
The 1st XV came quickly out of the blocks and scrum-half Fraser Strachan sold a perfect dummy, after powerful lead up work from the pack, to cross the line before the 2nd XV had even managed to kick off! Nick McCashin added the extras.
There then followed a frustrating 35 minutes where, despite dominating possession, Stew Mel were unable to add to their tally. To make matters worse, ‘Hills’ – in almost their first serious foray out of their own half – converted a penalty right on the whistle to make the interval score a nervy 7-3.
The third quarter of the game started with Cash extending the lead to 7 points by converting a penalty – but then Bruce (M) and Neil, the coaches, had near apoplexy as the home team, feeding off Stew Mel mistakes, got a real foothold in the game and scored an opportunistic try to pull back to within 2 points.
For a fractious few minutes Hills’ tails were up as we continued to make handling mistakes and give away penalties. Fortunately, the boys steadied the ship and sensibly played for position in the home 22. Finally, Fraser Morrison capitalised on a number of telling drives from the forwards by crashing over the line with joyful glee written all over his face.
Despite the occasional scare, the game was now secure, and the boys set about getting a try bonus point.
As I said, I was ostensibly watching the 2nds, but still managed to see Cash and Mike Hanning makes some fine breaks; but for the slippy ball, more tries could have been scored.
In both games the weather was against running rugby – but this is the Stew Mel style, and it is to the players’ credit that they tried to play attractive rugby in atrocious conditions. It finally produced the goods, even if a few jitters had to be overcome on the touchlines of both pitches!