1st XV vs Peebles: Match Report
Inverleith was in good heart for the visit of Peebles. The last time the Peebles bus parked on Ferry Road, Stewart’s Melville were soundly beaten, and so there was a definite collective anxiety about the outcome of this match amongst the indigenous Stew/Mel community.
The firm conditions – unusual for this time of year – meant running rugby was definitely on the menu. The fact that 8 tries were scored spoke volumes for the ambition of both sides, and, in the end, Stewart’s Melville scored 5 of those tries to record one of our better performances of the season. Last year, we did not compete at the breakdown and surrendered the initiative, but our players, this year, were well warned.
Greg Raeburn, the Peebles outside–half, gave Pees an early advantage with a straightforward penalty, but, a minute later, his clearance kick was charged down to allow Trotter the simplest of tasks to reply. Seb – who’ll not forget this day in a hurry – then completed his brace, underneath the posts. With Mike Hanning converting both, we had a 14-3 advantage after twenty minutes.
Peebles were slightly unlucky to be in this position, but McConnell, an exceptional ball carrying hooker, stormed over to narrow the gap. Mike Hanning kicked a penalty at the edge of his range but failed to convert Neil Bowie’s try to make the score 22-8.
Although we held this score-line advantage at the interval, Stewart’s Melville knew that Peebles were going to come back hard in the second half. So it proved – but it took until the twentieth minute before Carrier accepted the overlap to touch down in the corner. The conversion from the touchline was unsuccessful, meaning Peebles were still more than a converted try in arrears.
A neat backs move saw Matt Morrell – obviously stung into life by Seb’s scoring exploits – saunter in under the posts without a hand being laid on him for the bonus point try. Peebles then lost a man to the ‘bin’ for not rolling away, making an unlikely task look very difficult.
Winger Pye sqeezed in at the corner beside the Club House, but, with only two minutes left on the clock, it was too late, really. A neat chip by Hanning and chase by Morrell and Hannay allowed Matt to benefit from a mistake in the Peebles defence and complete the scoring with the last play of the match.
There is a confidence about our defence, which is gratifying to witness. The late Grant MacKenzie was a proponent of ‘let’s make it as difficult as possible for the opposition to score’ and he would have been proud of our efforts on Saturday. Peebles’ big ball carriers were often halted behind the gain line, meaning they eventually spun it to areas we were well capable of defending or tried an extra pass.
It is fair to say that the lineouts are still ‘work in progress’, but, with a little bit of luck and even more application, they will come right. Hugh Lindsay gives us a fourth back row forward and Andrew Manson a fifth, and that was the area that won us the match on Saturday – although Andrew was given a rough ride by ex-Melrose No. 9 McCormick at the base of the scrum.
Ciaran comes off his left foot deceptively and uses this with his strength to get himself out of trouble. He looks a ball player who is maturing week by week, and certainly looked the part with the 15 shirt. Likewise, Dan Anderson, in his first game of the season, takes a bit of stopping on the wing.
Results went our way with the other matches in our league, and, if we concentrate on the task in hand, the outcome could give us a happy bus trip home from Aberdeen next week.