1st XV vs Peebles: Match Report
After the previous week’s high, the crash back down to earth on Saturday was hard to bear for players, coaches, committee and supporters alike. Our side, with a few absent for various reasons, did not play as a team, and were very much second best in our clash with Peebles.
Five hundred years ago this week, James IV was favourite to win at Flodden – but everything that could go wrong, went wrong. A similar scenario at Inverleith ensured we never got out of first gear.
Peebles kicked off towards the clubhouse with a wind at their backs that, inevitably, was to drop in the second half when we would have enjoyed that advantage. Pees scored first with a penalty from Raeburn, a tidy, unglamorous player who always seemed to take the correct option. Then, after thirteen minutes – during which we never touched the ball – Anderson touched down, with Raeburn converting. A penalty within range of the posts offered three points to get us on the scoreboard, but Sam Rowlands (kicking into the wind) could not convert.
During the rest of the half, Peebles grew in confidence; they had arrived expecting a tough struggle, based on previous league results, and could hardly believe their luck. Kearney, a tough, no nonsense Number 8, barged over, and then Blyth cut inside to touch down; both tries were converted by Raeburn. A further penalty made the score 0-27 when the oranges came on.
The second half was better. Peebles scored their bonus point try through Scott, a replacement, towards the end, but at least we improved on the first half showing. We still did not play as a team, but, at least, there was evidence of individual pride as Willie Aitken led the fightback against his former club. Adam Howie and Ben Wilson were willing lieutenants in the pack. In the backs, meanwhile, both wingers made the most of any opportunities that came their way.
Peebles were workmanlike and honest, nothing more – nor would they claim to be; but they were first to the ball, and, the more chances they got with the ball in their hands, the more assured they looked.
The buzz word nowadays is ‘collisions’; it used to be ‘breakdown’, but ‘collisions’ describes the situation better, because, to win, you have to get the better of the opposition in these situations. There is no doubt that Peebles won these collisions – but we can learn from that, and realise that, if you compete at these collisions, suddenly the game is a lot more fun.
After the game the mood in the clubhouse was sombre, as, fortunately, performances such as this have been rare under Bruce and his coaching team in recent years. Indeed, the last time we suffered so badly was against Accies – three years ago – and, the following week, we bounced back with a win against Hillhead.
To Selkirk, then, on Saturday, for the firsts and seconds, and a chance to get the season back on track – which we can, if everyone plays their part.