1st XV vs Livingston: Match Report
We showed our intent by travelling with a full strength squad, which lined up as follows:
15 – Sam Hampson
14 – Allan Whittingham
13 – Mike Hanning
12 – Dave Hampton
11 – Matt Morrell
10 – Nick McCashin
9 – Sam Rowlands
1 – Willie Aitken
2 – Nick Hart
3 – Rhys Morgan
4 – Scott Brewster
5 – Jon Hamblin
6 – Ben Wilson
7 – Stuart Wilson
8 – Adam Howie
16 – Ross Anderson
17 – Matt Hutcheson
18 – Denis Pech
19 – Seb Trotter
20 – Fraser Strachan
I’d never been to Almond Park before, although Black Al assures me that we have played there in living memory (that does cover a 70 year period in his case, to be fair). It turned out to be a tidy wee ground, with a compact club house (rather like the Edinburgh Northern one) behind the posts by the road in and a neat stand with a bar in it (like the one at Hawick Linden) along the near touchline.
The first half was dominated by our back line, who caused consternation in the home ranks every time the ball came to them. Sam Hampson, in particular, ran hard and direct, coming into the line to claim two tries in the opening period. Sam’s own tackling may need some fine tuning, but he sure knows how to shrug off the ones being made on him!
Matt Morrell went one better with three tries, single touchdowns from Mike Hanning and Banger completing the scoring before the oranges came on (© Gav Calder). That’s seven tries in all.
Cash, having enjoyed a one-on-one kicking tutorial from Black Al at Inverleith on Thursday, looked a lot more like his old self when it came to adding the extra points, converting all seven of those tries to give us a 49-0 lead at half time.
We hadn’t had it all our own way, though, with Livingston scrummaging well and giving as good as they got at the breakdown. They also kicked well from hand, pinning us down near our line for the middle third of the half.
Our scoring rate slowed after the interval, with Livingston tackling a lot more effectively than they had done in the first half. We did, however, still manage to add another 33 points to our haul, the second half try scorers being Cash (2), Sam Rowlands, Matt Morrell and Sam Hampson.
Cash, perhaps wishing to avoid setting the bar too high for the rest of the season, managed to miss the conversion for the first of his tries – it was from the far touchline, to be fair – but made amends by landing the rest of the kicks to give us a final tally of 82 points.
That was, however, offset by three converted tries for our hosts, the first of them coming 18 minutes into the second half. An excellent conversion from the touchline made the score 75-7 at that point, then some lacklustre tackling allowed home centre Gavin Douglas to score under the posts. It was Douglas who scored the final points of the match, smartly intercepting a forced pass in our 22 as we tried to work the ball to the left wing. The simple conversion made the final score 82-21, and full credit should be given to Livingston for the way in which they refused to buckle in the face of our first half onslaught (despite missing several first team regulars).
We had made a slew of substitutions as the game wore on, the first switch coming when Denis replaced the injured Ben in the back row at half time. Willie, Dave Hampton and Jon Hamblin were then replaced in one fell swoop by Ross Anderson, Seb and Matt Hutcheson on the fifteen minute mark, with Matt making his first start for the FPs since leaving the school. Fraser Strachan got a run out in the last ten minutes, Sam Rowlands moving to full back and Sam Hampson to the wing.
While the 81-12 win that Watsonians recorded against Haddington at Neilson Park meant that it would be the men from Myreside that went on to play Currie in the Cup semi final, our players should still take pride in their professional performance at Almond Park.
We’ve struggled often enough against lower league opposition in the Cup over the years, but there was no risk of an upset of Strathendrick proportions this time around. Our scrum was solid without dominating, the lineout worked pretty well and our backs ran their lines to great effect.
Off the pitch, no one got lost on their way to the game, and the Livvie pies were cheap and tasty – pretty much the perfect Cup away day, in fact!