1st XV vs Watsonians (Cup): Match Report
So there we were again at Myreside, for our first game in the revamped Cup competition, facing a Watsonians team that had inflicted our only league defeat of the season two weeks earlier.
There were high hopes within the Stew/Mel camp that, despite all of the injuries we are currently suffering, we might avenge that Premier 2 league defeat. The Edinburgh weather was perfect for a game between two old foes in a competition that, to many, seems only to be a distraction from the important league business which will commence again in the new year – weather permitting!
Watsonians kicked off, and, after the first few exchanges, Stew/Mel were forced into making an early change to the on field team when Joni Hare left the field with a foot injury. Joni had stayed down after a ruck, and, as the ball moved wide towards the touch line, it was knocked on and a scrum awarded to Watsonians. The ref was keen on the scrum taking place without Joni, and only after a lot of frantic shouting from the touch line did one of the Stew/Mel front row take a knee and force the ref to stop the game.
After checking with Joni, who was trying to put weight onto his foot, the ref decided the scrum should take place. ‘Sonians won the scrum, and, as play moved into the Stew/Mel half, the ‘Sonians number 12 jinked through a couple of tackles and eventually offloaded to the ‘Sonians number 14 who came onto the ball at speed and ran in the first score of the day to the right of the Stew/Mel posts. A simple conversion for ‘Sonians scrumhalf Brian Walls made the score 7-0 to the home team.
Stew/Mel’s first scoring chance came as a result of a deliberate knock on by ‘Sonians, and Mike Hanning put the penalty shot over to take the score to 7-3 to Watsonians. A number of penalty kicks at goal were then exchanged, some successful and others not.
‘Sonians added three points from a penalty after a robust tackle from Hayden, which the ref had a chat with Hayden about, taking the score to 10-3 to Watsonians. Mike Hanning then failed to convert a long range effort, with the ball just going past the left hand upright. Next the ‘Sonians scrum half hit an upright with a shot for the first time in the match. Stew/Mel failed to clear the danger and immediately gave ‘Sonians another chance to extend their lead. Walls made no mistake with his kick this time, and the score moved to 13-3 to Watsonians.
The next score started with a break by Angus Dixon down the far touchline after a lineout. Angus linked up with Hayden, who was high tackled; Mike Hanning duly converted the penalty shot to take the score to 13-6 to Watsonians.
Several uninteresting minutes of play followed until ‘Sonians conceded a penalty at a lineout just in front of the two benches. The ‘Sonians hooker then had a swing of his leg towards Roddy, but, much to the anger of the Stew/Mel bench and some of the crowd, both the Ref and his assistant (but let’s call him a touch judge) clearly had not been to Specsavers and the incident went unpunished. The Stew/Mel bench got their points across to the ‘Sonians hooker, who blurted something back at the Director of Rugby about him being Ginger!
From the penalty that had already been awarded, the ball was kicked into touch around the 22. From the lineout, the ball was moved wide and eventually Borth managed to break through the ‘Sonians line to score Stew/Mel’s first try of the day. Mike missed the conversion and the score was now 13-11 to Watsonians.
Shortly after, following some good work by the Stew/Mel forwards, the back line was released and a show of the ball was enough to allow Mike Hanning to coast through a gap and run in Stew/Mel’s second try of the afternoon. Mike failed to convert his own try and the score was now 16-13 to Stew/Mel.
The closing minutes of the first half saw Stew/Mel concede a penalty just inside our half, right in front of the posts. Up stepped the ‘Sonians scrum half, who banged the kick over from 48 metres to take the score to 16 all.
Adam Howie was then yellow carded for killing the ball in the ruck after the ref had already spoken to Scott Brewster twice about the team’s discipline. Funny thing is that the ref also spoke to the ‘Sonians loosehead prop twice – but didn’t give him 10 minutes’ rest. The light meters came out just before half time and there was a thought that, despite the large playing budget that Watsonians have, they were unable to put their floodlights on! After politely asking the ‘Sonians head coach, the lights began to warm up.
Half time score: Watsonians 16-16 Stew/Mel
The second half kicked off with the floodlights at full power. Shortly after, with the Stew/Mel scrum under pressure, a penalty was conceded in front of the posts, allowing ‘Sonians to extend their lead to 19-16. After this ‘Sonians set up camp in the Stew/Mel half and succeeded in keeping Stew/Mel in their 22 for long periods of the second half. Even with all of this pressure, ‘Sonians failed to score another try in the game, as the Stew/Mel defence stood firm. They did, however, keep the score board ticking over through a lack of discipline by Stew/Mel.
Infrequent journeys were made outside our 22, with a couple of strong runs by Joe on the wing, but, every time we tried to play rugby, we could not get the basics right and play would break down. ‘Sonians hit the post again with a penalty shot, and, when the ball was collected by Hayden in front of the posts, he took off and got us out of the 22 and up towards the Stew/Mel 10 meter line. The ruck formed and ‘Sonians emerged with the ball, but, again, they messed up a potential scoring chance when the player tripped over his own feet.
Stew/Mel made two changes to the on field team with Stath and Fraser replacing Roddy and Adam. The front row then reorganised themselves, with Angus moving to hooker, Stath (a tighthead by trade) going to loosehead and Reece (a loosehead by trade) continuing on the tighthead! Really, gents – use your brains! After two – yes, two – scrums, they swapped sides and the set piece seemed to stabilise.
The last 10 minutes of the match saw ‘Sonians add another two penalty goals to make the score 22-16. Stew/Mel continued to try and play rugby and create scoring chances, but the basics skills of rugby seemed to be on holiday for the afternoon. Several phases of play were brought to an end by knock ons, dropped balls and forward passes. “It’s the basics, it’s the basics”, the Team Manager was heard to shout.
After the bench reckoned that time was up, play continued and the ‘Sonians number 6 was penalised at a ruck. As he protested his innocence, the ref showed him the yellow card. A tap penalty by Stew/Mel produced a couple more phases, but, instead of moving the ball wide, it was taken up the narrow side again. As play got too close to the touch line, the tackled player’s leg touched the line while he lay on the floor with the ball in his hands and the ref blew for the end of the match.
Final score: Watsonians 22-16 Stew/Mel.
A thoroughly disappointing match where we scored two tries and played some OK rugby, but also gave away far too many penalties (and kickable ones), made too many poor decisions on the pitch, couldn’t set a good platform in the scrums and lineouts and failed to mix our game plan up when under pressure. Going forward, we need to be smarter on our feet, be more disciplined, mix the game up more and get the basics right.
Stew/Mel suffered only their second competitive loss of the year, unfortunately both have been to Watsonians and both at Myreside. We will face Watsonians again this season on 11 February 2012 in a Premier B clash at Inverleith.
It’s the Cup again next week, against another familiar foe from Premier 2 in the shape of Biggar. Thankfully we are at Inverleith and let us hope we can beat Biggar for the second time this season. Let us also hope that all of the injured players make a speedy recovery and are back fighting fit for the start of Premier B on 14th January against Hawick.