1st XV vs Selkirk: Match Report
Paul McCartney’s often mis-quoted lyric* really means that, in the end, you get back what you put in.
There is no doubt that we have the ability at Stewart’s Melville. But whether or not we reach the play-off spot in April depends upon what we put in between then and now.
We have players like McCashin, Hanning and Morrell in the backs and Lindsay, Howie and the front row in the forwards who have more than enough ability to get us over the line. Add to that the ever improving Morrison and the ever growing Hunter-Hill and we have a pretty useful pack. The return of Angus Rennie gives the coaches options out wide, and, as opposing teams have learned, such is our defence that there is no way through the middle.
If Chris Anderson (impressive ink, by the way) had clearly managed to ground the ball to the satisfaction of the stand-side officials in the last play on Saturday, we would have escaped from Selkirk with at least a draw. But a losing bonus point was the sum total of a pretty gritty display.
Points were always going to be hard to come by between the two most miserly defences in the league; throw in a sticky pitch and a greasy ball and it was actually a credit to both teams that they tried to play rugby rather than hoof-ball.
Selkirk threw us a bit of a lifeline because, in spite of having by far the majority of the ball in the first half, they wasted three opportunities to convert either a penalty or a conversion. These were all from 15 yards to the left of the uprights, normally the right footed kicker’s preferred option.
The first half saw Cooney and Morgan renew their acquaintance in the front row from earlier in the season, and the early portents were not good as Selkirk held the upper hand. As the game wore on, however, Selkirk made their substitutions and the scrum became a source of ball and an attacking weapon for us. The line-outs were even, but we did pirate the odd second bounce through Wilson and, after he was introduced, Anderson.
Neither set of backs managed to engineer try scoring opportunities. Selkirk had a lot of clever off-loading and ran decent lines, but the final pass was often forced. Clapperton for Selkirk and McCashin for Stewart’s Melville offered variation with their twinkle toed running, but the second line of defence gobbled them up.
No, the only way through was the forwards, with a roly-poly job round the fringes, and Selkirk managed their try mid-way through the first half in this way. They kicked to the corner and went through the phases before ultimately touching down.
Nick McCashin reduced the deficit after 20 minutes of play in the second half, though unfortunately Banks replied not long after for Selkirk. Lindsay, Howie and Morgan all carried effectively as we raised the pace in the last ten minutes and just about stole it.
Selkirk away, under lights, in the freezing cold, with a large, alcohol enhanced crowd putting pressure on the visitors (and, in the nicest possible way, on the officials) is a dashed difficult place to play, and, providing we can show the same level of commitment for the rest of the season, we have the outcome of that season in our own hands.
* The line “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” from ‘The End’ off the ‘Abbey Road’ album is, essentially, the Beatles’ closing statement. ‘The End’ has all four Beatles performing solos. It is the last lyric on the last album they recorded. ‘Let It Be’ was the last album they released, but it was recorded earlier.