1st XV vs Watsonians: Match Report
An unchanged team took to the field on Saturday for the third game this season against our city rivals Watsonians. The SRU even provided a neutral ref for the game through an exchange with the RFU.
Watsonians kicked off towards Ferry Road and immediately put pressure on a Stew/Mel team whose minds may have still been in the changing room or elsewhere.
The early pressure just about brought an early try in the corner beside the Clubhouse for ‘Sonians, but, fortunately, Borth did enough to force a tiny knock on in goal, and, after a short consultation between the Ref and touchjudge, it was confirmed that no try had been scored.
Stew/Mel were under pressure immediately at the resulting scrum, and, playing with a penalty advantage, ‘Sonians moved the ball wider and Ben Di Rollo strolled in for the first try of the day. Brian Walls converted to take the score to 7-0 to ‘Sonians after barely 5 minutes played.
The next 10 minutes were nearly all ‘Sonians. Mark Johnson wriggled over in the corner just under Borth’s tackle and Brian Walls converted, taking the score to 14-0 ‘Sonians. Following the kick off, Stew/Mel managed to put a couple of phases together and work up the field towards the ‘Sonians 22m line. Some scrappy stuff resulted in a Stew/Mel penalty 5m out in front of the ‘Sonians posts. Kaide slotted the penalty, taking the score to 14-3 to ‘Sonians.
‘Sonians kicked off again towards Ferry Road, and, with Stew/Mel failing to collect the kick off, ‘Sonians put a couple of phases together before their No 12, Ross Aitken, weaved inside the 22 and scored ‘Sonians third try of the afternoon. Walls pulled the conversion across the front of the posts and the score was now 19-3 to ‘Sonians.
With their minds now on the job in hand, Stew/Mel began to put some phases together and the forwards began to take the game to ‘Sonians. hitting the ball up and with a couple of pick and drives. This all resulted in a Stew/Mel penalty, which was kicked to touch. The lineout on the stand touchline was driven on by the forwards and moved into midfield and hit up. The ball was moved back towards touch and Liam managed to break a couple of attempted tackles before being driven into touch. Fortunately, Liam managed to keep the ball in play. A couple of phases later Stew/Mel conceded a penalty and allowed ‘Sonians to clear the danger.
From the lineout on half way, the ball was moved into midfield and then back towards the touchline, where the ‘Sonians hooker wasted a 2 man overlap and took the contact. He was then penalised for holding on and Stew/Mel kicked to touch from the penalty. The lineout was slightly overthrown but Willie collected the ball at the back of the lineout and rumbled towards the goal line. From the ruck on the 5m line, the ball was moved wide towards the posts. Borth, who had doubled round off his wing, collected the ball and strolled over to score Stew/Mel’s first try of the afternoon. Mike Hanning converted and took the score to 19-10 to ‘Sonians.
From the kick off, a short game of aerial ping pong took place before Eck collected the ball and took the contact, just to settle things down. Several phases later, Stew/Mel had a lineout on the ‘Sonians 22. Off the top ball resulted in Angus breaking a couple of tackles before being forced to set up the ruck. Pick & drive, pick & drive, pick & drive and Stew/Mel were over the line. Unfortunately, the ball was held up and the 5m scrum was awarded.
The Stew/Mel scrum came under a bit of pressure at the resulting set piece, which prevented a planned move from coming off and allowed ‘Sonians to clear the danger once again. Liam collected the kick and moved the ball to Hayden in midfield. Hayden was tackled and tried to offload, but the pass went forward and ‘Sonians were awarded a scrum. ‘Sonians routinely won the scrum but kicked possession away, allowing Liam to collect and run the ball back to the 10m line, where Stew/Mel earned a penalty. A quick tap led to a run by Mark, who got slightly isolated, resulting in a penalty for holding on. ‘Sonians also took a quick tap but their hooker then threw a pass to nobody and the ball ended up in touch. Stew/Mel lineout.
From the lineout Sangy took the ball on, then Liam, then Hayden and then Pip. Mike Hanning then dummied past a couple of tacklers, setting up a ruck in front of the ‘Sonians posts. Stew/Mel kept the ball tight and were awarded a penalty. The ref also awarded a yellow to one of the ‘Sonians 2nd rows. Mike Hanning put the penalty over, reducing the deficit and taking the score to 19-13 to ‘Sonians.
With 10 minutes to go to half time, both teams looked to add to their scores, and it was ‘Sonians who had the best opportunity to increase their lead before half time. Stew/Mel were penalised for obstruction and ‘Sonians kicked to touch. The resulting lineout was driven, but, thankfully, the Stew/Mel forwards stopped the drive and were awarded a scrum on the 22. Stew/Mel won the scrum and gently tapped the ball into touch to bring the half time whistle. Reece replaced Eck before half time.
Half time score: 19-13 to ‘Sonians.
Stew/Mel kicked off towards Ferry Road to start the second half and ‘Sonians were awarded a penalty around half way for offside. Brian Walls stepped up and put the ball between the uprights, increasing ‘Sonians lead to 22-13. From the kick off, play on the 22 resulted in a scrum to Stew/Mel. ‘Sonians put pressure on the Stew/Mel scrum once again, but Kaide recovered the situation and managed to get past a couple of defenders before setting up the ruck. Ruck, Ruck , Ruck and Angus picked up and drove forward towards the line, setting another ruck up. Reece picked up at pace and over the line he went for the second Stew/Mel try of the day. Mike Hanning converted, taking the score to 22-20 to ‘Sonians.
The next scoring chance fell to ‘Sonians, who looked dangerous, but, thanks to Borth (again), the visitors were prevented from scoring. Adam replaced the injured Roddy and helped repel the ‘Sonians pick and drives. Once they realised that there was no way through, the ball was moved wide, but strong Stew/Mel defence in midfield forced ‘Sonians to opt for the drop goal, which Brian Walls put through the posts and extended the ‘Sonians lead to 25-20.
Stew/Mel kicked off and the ‘Sonians No 8 was put back in the tackle – but ‘Sonians were awarded a scrum, despite appeals for a penalty to Stew/Mel for holding on. Stew/Mel destroyed the ‘Sonians scrum but were penalised for driving in at an angle. ‘Sonians cleared to touch and the squint throw led to another scrum, Stew/Mel ball. The scrum collapsed in the front row but play was allowed to continue and the ball was kicked into the ‘Sonians 22, allowing ‘Sonians to clear to touch. Stew/Mel line out on half way line.
Shortly after, Stew/Mel earned a penalty and kicked for the line out further up the pitch. Pip collected the ball from the lineout and carried strongly, taking the play into the ‘Sonians 22. From the ruck, the ball was moved wide, but a loose pass let Stew/Mel down and ‘Sonians cleared – but only to Liam, who took the ball up and managed to get past a couple of defenders. Stew/Mel kept the ball and went through the phases, moving the ball wide to Borth, who turned the ball inside to Hayden, who crossed the 22m line before being tackled. Advantage to Stew/Mel allowed the forwards to pick and drive, but the ‘Sonians defence held up to the continued scrutiny.
Stew/Mel earned a penalty in midfield and the quick tap by Kaide hit the ref, so Stew/Mel had to settle for a midfield scrum. From the scrum, the ball went wide and Borth got to within 10m of the ‘Sonians line before Stew/Mel lost the ball and ‘Sonians cleared the danger once more. Following a ‘Sonians scrum in their 22, they kicked to touch, only for Stew/Mel to take a quick throw and move the ball wide to the other touch line. Stew/Mel kicked for position but ‘Sonians managed to clear once more.
Another quick tap penalty by Stew/Mel resulted in some scrappy play before we lost the ball, allowing Ross Aitken to clear for ‘Sonians. The ball did not make touch and Borth picked up and skinned a couple of defenders before being stopped. The ball found its way into touch for a Stew/Mel throw. The lineout was driven and Stew/Mel were awarded a scrum 5m out.
A big period of Stew/Mel pressure followed, with ‘Sonians constantly in front of the back foot at the ruck repelling the Stew/Mel attack. Finally, Mike Hanning squeezed over in the corner to score Stew/Mel’s 3rd try of the afternoon. The Ref forgot where he was at this point and blew his whistle to stop the clock and signalled for a video replay! He had to be content with a word with the touch judge, who confirmed Mike had scored. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful and the score was now 25-25.
Stew/Mel now seemed to be on top of the game and the team was pushing hard for more points and the win. All seemed great until ‘Sonians were awarded a penalty where the ball landed for obstruction. ‘Sonians kicked for the corner and had a lineout inside the Stew/Mel 22. ‘Sonians won the lineout securely and kept it tight with several pick and drives. Stew/Mel repelled the attacks, but eventually ran out of defenders and ‘Sonians scored their bonus point try in the corner through Ben Di Rollo. The conversion was unsuccessful and the score was now 30-25 to ‘Sonians.
With only 7 minutes to go, things did not seem to be going to plan. Neil Bowie replaced Matt Hannay in the centre for Stew/Mel.
Stew/Mel kicked off following the score and ‘Sonians cleared from their 22. Liam collected the ball and returned play to the half way line. The ball moved wide and Borth spotted a gap which was quickly closed. ‘Sonians seemed to be constantly offside in midfield again but the officials saw nothing. From a ruck, Stew/Mel gained a penalty advantage for the player not rolling away. Stew/Mel kicked for the corner and gained a lineout 10m out from the ‘Sonians line. Mark tipped the ball off the top of the lineout and the ball moved wide before a knock on gave a scrum to ‘Sonians with only a couple of minutes to go.
The scrum wheeled 180 degrees and was reset. A phase on from the scrum, ‘Sonians were penalised for holding on and a quick tap by Stew/Mel resulted in a penalty advantage. A couple of pick and drives later, ‘Sonians conceded a penalty. Kaide took a quick tap and scored Stew/Mel’s 4th try of the afternoon between the posts, securing the bonus point. Mike Hanning converted, taking the score to 32-30 to Stew/Mel!
With time still remaining, Stew/Mel collected the ball from the kick off and kept it for a few phases before kicking it into touch to the sound of the ref’s whistle. Stew/Mel win with a try bonus point.
Final Score: 32-30 to Stew/Mel.
In the three games between Stew/Mel and Watsonians this season, Watsonians have won two of them, but I think all Stew/Mel fans would agree that this was the one that we really wanted to win. In doing so, all of the players that took the pitch showed guts, determination and a great team spirit to fight back from the poor start to the game that allowed Watsonians to go into a 19-3 lead. Only 6 points separated the two teams over the three games.
With Accies beating the Nails by 22-17, Stew/Mel sit on top of Premier B at the moment, and we now look forward to next Saturday’s visit to Raeburn Place, where we just cannot afford another 15 minutes of madness. Just ask Scotland!