1st XV vs Peebles: Match Report
Well that’s it – third. At the end of the day it wasn’t the draw at Peebles that cost us the chance of a play-off spot for the Premiership – it was the disappointing home performance against GHA, and the result (not the performance) against Watsonians at the start of the month.
It is incredibly difficult to win all the fixtures in a very competitive league – and full marks to Selkirk for managing that – and, although our performances against Selkirk illustrated a level of ability about us that hinted at greater things, unfortunately, that promise never fully materialised.
On the other hand, away bonus point victories at Aberdeen, Marr, Dundee and Kelso were fantastic results, and, even in defeat, we were always able to collect a losing bonus point.
Our main attacking threats in the threequarters, this year, have centred round McCashin, Hanning and Morrell. On Saturday, with two of the above missing and Mike operating nearer the action, our attacking threat was somewhat blunted. The weather certainly didn’t help, and, with the wind whistling down the Manor valley, Stewart’s Melville found it nigh on impossible to attack with enough pace on the ball to offer a threat to the Peebles try line.
It was at least a ten point wind, so, when Peebles reached half time with an eleven point advantage, you felt it was no more than the conditions dictated.
Greg Ruthven, always a tricky adversary, played the conditions well, and it was no surprise when, following a penalty to the corner, the Peebles forwards found a way through to add to Greg’s earlier successful penalty. Peebles were using the lineout profitably but our defence coped comfortably with any midfield intrusions. Rather annoyingly, Ruthven made it 11-0 right on the stroke of half time.
Our lineouts epitomise verschlimmbessern – as they say auf Deutsch but we can’t in English – making something worse by trying to make it better. We must practice our lineouts countless times throughout the season, but still it has been our Achilles heel. It is especially frustrating because our hookers can throw in and our locks can secure ball – something just seems to go wrong from time to time. The wind was certainly a factor on Saturday, but it is annoying for players, coaches and supporters alike to lose our own throws, especially from an attacking lineout to the corner.
If the lineout was disappointing, the scrum was immense, with Messers Aitken, Mitchell and Morgan marching the Peebles eight on several occasions. They were rewarded with the old ‘referee running under the posts with his hand up for the penalty try’ routine – bliss for a front row forward.
Mike Hanning’s 100 percent success rate with his goal kicking then allowed us to establish a 16-11 lead. The lead was somewhat short lived as Peebles mounted a few attacks of their own. The gusts, by this time, had subsided (as often happens later in the afternoon) and Peebles, playing purely for pride, again found their way over the try line through good forward carries. Fortunately for Stewart’s Melville, Ruthven was unsuccessful with his conversion attempt.
There was still fifteen minutes of the match remaining, and, with Mr Twitter keeping us up to date on events on Tayside, the outcome of the season was in the balance up to the final whistle. The two Frasers, Strachan and Christie, were introduced and tried to conjur up a fairytale finish – but it was not to be.
Our spirit throughout the season has been our hallmark, and has been epitomised by our back row of Wilson, Lindsay and Howie.
Unfortunately, the end of the season seems to mark the retirement of Scott Brewster, a wholehearted competitor, and it is to be hoped that he is not lost to the club that he has contributed so much to.
We wish the best of luck – through gritted teeth- to GHA in the play-offs and congratulations to our 2nd XV on winning their championship. Our Sevens commitments include a trip to Orkney so there is still plenty of rugby on offer for our players and supporters to enjoy.