1st XV vs Jed-Forest: Match Report

1st XV vs Jed-Forest: Match Report

The clamour from the masses for the inclusion of the likes of KP and Steven Fletcher betrays an ignorance of team sports. Sure, these talented individuals can turn a game, or produce a moment of stunning brilliance, but, underpinning their contribution, there has to be a collective commitment and team spirit, or will, that is greater than the opposition’s spirit – otherwise, you lose.

It is not as simple as the best players always win, otherwise Scotland would never have won a ‘Grand Slam’ nor Greece the European Championship in 2004.

This collective will is built up through shared experience, both good (Hawks)  and bad (Biggar). It is nurtured through attending training sessions when you would rather be somewhere else, through nights at events like the stock car racing and through other shared experiences. This collective will makes tackles, holds onto escaping jerseys, and, when you are seven points down after five minutes and deep in hostile territory, gives you the inner belief that you are going to triumph – eventually. And so it proved.

Jed-Forest were targeting the ‘city boys’ to kick start their season, and Gobby’s early try converted by Chisholm gave them every encouragement. We then played sensible rugby, controlling possession – there was no point in trying to play sevens, as that is what Jed are good at – and soon Mike Hanning got the scoreboard ticking over with a penalty.

Slick back play then allowed a gap to open up; Liam, as we have seen so many times before, needed no second invitation to ghost through, with Mike adding the extras. Two more penalties coughed up, as a result of controlled pressure, started to knock the stuffing out of Jed and Manning battled over in the corner to give us a commanding 21-7 lead at half time.

If Jed were to come back, something had to go wrong with the way we were playing and they needed to score quickly – so, when Marshall rounded off a slick backs move, it looked like game over. Indeed it was game over, but nobody told Jed, and they enjoyed their best period of the game, recycling and asking questions of our defence.

We seemed to abandon the type of rugby that had won us the game and started to play sevens to get the bonus point. The frustration felt at not getting that point should not overshadow a good win, and we eagerly anticipate the visit of Selkirk next week.

Simon Cowell’s Finlay Calder’s View

This was Fin’s first Stew Mel game of the season, though he has watched Jed several times for us, so here is a wee crit:

‘Before kickoff, had I been the Jed coach, I could have been forgiven for believing that our luck was about to turn. With both Young brothers back in the Royal Blue colours for the first time this season, together with the hugely impressive Robert Hogg at outside centre, they would have just a bit more in the locker to offer the home faithful than has been apparent in recent weeks.

‘The omens continued to look good, too – leading after 10 minutes playing towards the town. Throw into the pot the fact that, following such a dramatic win the previous week against the much fancied Hawks at Inverleith, there looked like there might just be an element of a hangover from the visitors.

‘This Stewart’s Melville side is made of stronger stuff, however, and, once the game settled down, it became clear there was only going to be one winner.

‘The platform for victory was laid up front – always has been, always will be – and, with Scott Brewster returning to full fitness, that brings added bulk, maturity, confidence and credibility to the whole team.

‘Sure, he needs matches, thick and fast, but the front five look solid and provided a quality platform from the scrum base to allow back row moves to flow.

‘From what I’ve seen this season, this Stewart’s Melville pack is now more than a match for anyone in this Division … the backs look pretty competent, too, by the way.

‘Number 8 has a Dean Richards gait about him and links well with his scrum half from the base. Like Dean, he reads the game well, albeit at his own pace … needs to work on this aspect!

‘The back row is no more than workmanlike, though, so don’t get too carried away.

‘But I agree with Bruce’s team selection, in that, for the first 50 minutes or so, you want to control events – and the young Number 8 has the bulk, presence and rugby nous to do so. It is tough on Lean not to start, but he is a good impact player, and, with the way things work with injuries and unavailability, he will soon regain his place in the starting lineup.

‘Manning gives the team a touch of structure and there is the option to run him in the middle row to give us more mobility and Angus a start.

‘The scrum half may have been down the pecking order at the start of the season, but I like him – he knows when to link with his pack inside and he knows when not to, and that is good. He gives clear instructions to his forwards and they listen, and he kicks well from hand, too. It looks a good half back combination.

‘The stand-off looks a rugby player, and, strangely, not being able to kick from hand terribly well is ideal for Stewart’s Melville, especially with Craig Marshall outside him. Some notable Jed worthies commented on just how good our threequarters are – a nice compliment, and fair. Everybody watches everybody else in our Division and reads the websites, so he will find himself, like Liam, a bit of a marked man.

‘I would say that, having watched all the sides in our Division, we have nothing to be too worried about, and a top four finish, as a minimum, should be a very achievable aim.

‘Standing beside some old Mellie worthies – namely Bobby Clark, Gordon Esslemont and brother Gav – we were recalling the day that Trinity Accies took 65 points off Melville FP at Ferryfield. Let me remind you that that was in the days when a try was awarded only 3 points … sometimes I think we are prone to forget how far the Club has come.’

Gav & Finlay Calder

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