1st XV vs Kelso: Match Report

1st XV vs Kelso: Match Report

In sport, as in life, there are set-backs and disappointments. There are unfulfilled dreams and there is the bitter, gut-wrenching, taste of defeat. It is how individuals  – in life and within the team – react to these blows that marks them out either as men of substance and responsibility or as apologists that play the ‘it wasnae me, it wis him’ card, quietly drop their commitment and slowly disappear from the scene. We have had plenty of these characters in the past.

We have also had our share of disappointments, at both 1st and 2nd XV level, in the month of September – but how would this week’s revamped 1st XV react?

Everyone supporting Stewart’s Melville on Saturday knew that another defeat would leave us marooned at the foot of the table, and, when Kelso deservedly went ten points up in as many minutes, the writing looked to be pencilled in on that wall.

Kelso played tidy rugby. Their lineout was secure through Seed,  and their scrum steady; they progressed through the phases in an organised way. In Gillespie they have, as we know from past experience, a very explosive individual to lead their forward charges. But it speaks volumes for our preparation to say how well he was shackled on Saturday.

Murray Hastie had pulled an earlier penalty attempt, but that did not seem to matter as he converted his second opportunity and also added the conversion of Richard Minto’s try. Mike Hanning then accepted a penalty opportunity to settle nerves and gradually we came back into the game.

Dave Hampton (a vocal addition to the normally douce Inverleith air) and Craig Marshall (welcomed back from Canada with all the fanfare of the prodigal son) always seemed to do the right things. This security out wide allowed Mike Hanning to flourish, and he scored and converted a fine individual try involving a looped move that saw us approach the break with the scores tied at ten all.

There then followed a period when the style of rugby that we always try to play materialised, and we scored three converted tries in seven minutes. Niall Shannon, Shannon Durrant and Richard Borthwick were the men crossing the whitewash for us. 

In truth, had Ben Manning held on to a couple of passes, it could have been more. We offloaded brilliantly and Kelso simply ran out of tacklers.

Kelso didn’t give up, though, and, as there was still half an hour remaining, they had to score next. They did, through Ewan ‘Baby’ Ford, whose try was converted by Hastie.

There followed a nervy passage of play as Kelso controlled possession, but, midway through the half, Hayden Lingard dotted down following more exciting back play to restore our 21 point margin.

Realistically, Kelso weren’t going to come back from that, but the experience of the previous two weeks meant that nobody was counting any chickens, particularly not after Kelso responded through Gregg Minto to narrow the gap.

As the game entered the last five minutes, Matt Hannay was released by Richard Borthwick and scored what proved to be the only unconverted try of the afternoon.

Kelso kept plugging away, however, and scored through a driven lineout, with Gillespie touching down to secure a four try bonus point that their tenacity merited.

Shannon Durrant started with a scrum that went backwards but quickly got to grips with the pace of the game, while Johnny MacDonald looks the part; both will have enjoyed their first game. Donald Sangster was everywhere.

On to Hamilton, then, next week. They have a good playing surface, and we know that we have the skill – it all depends who wants it more on the day.

Finally, a word about Richard Borthwick, who has now played 200 games for us, and has scored 700 odd points. He juggles work and family to turn out, he must have played at least 10 seasons and, as a former club internationalist, he has only ever played for StewMel.

Borth: we salute you.

Gav Calder

Kelso match report here.

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