1st XV vs West Of Scotland: Match Report
Saturday was a beautiful day at Inverleith, with a well attended lunch, a good crowd, and the pitch perfect – all the ingredients for the StewMel of old to fall flat on our face!
Fortunately, we are better than that these days, and we have now only been beaten once in the league since October 2010.
We had four changes to our side from Biggar the previous week, including three players making their debut in Matt Hannay, Neil Bowie and Fraser Morrison. All demonstrated why they were picked, and many of the senior players also raised their game to give us victory over West.
We kicked off playing towards Ferry Road and Seb settled early nerves with a finely struck penalty. West, after engineering an overlap, immediately rallied through right-winger Symington, touching down in the corner beside Willie’s house.
Seb, from practically the same spot as his first kick, then put us back in the lead with another penalty.
After 15 minutes, following several good phases, we managed to create an opening for Liam Steele to touch down, but Seb couldn’t convert from wide out. Indeed, all of our tries were scored in the corners and none were converted.
West then narrowed the gap to three points, following one of those ‘not releasing’ type penalties that you can never quite understand.
Then, from a penalty to the corner, we took the lineout, and, from the throw in, Scott Brewster touched down in textbook fashion. It all sounds very simple when written like that – but, in truth, the number of times in the past we have kicked penalties to the corners, and then failed to capitalise, made the foregoing seem a bit unreal.
Just before half time Scott Riddell handled cleverly to give himself the space to dive over. On the stroke of half time, West prop Simm was yellow carded.
Half time: Stewart’s Melville 21, West Of Scotland 8.
The second half got underway with another textbook, penalty to the corner ploy; we won the lineout, and, after a few phases, Joni Hare – who worked tirelessly all day – scored to secure the bonus point.
Still only with 14 men, West, after a few good phases, scored underneath the posts to breathe life into the game at 26-15. Our forwards were never going to capitulate, however, and the aggressive defensive tackling kept West on the back foot.
Scott Riddell settled the game, really, with another well taken try, and, although, West were to score again, we played out time with few alarms.
Full time: Stewart’s Melville 31, West of Scotland 20
What about the new guys? Neil clearly loves to tackle and the coaches obviously felt that his presence was the best option. He didn’t disappoint. Matt took any chance that came his way and looked at home at this level. Fraser added to the team with his ball carrying and work rate. The number of changes did affect our continuity, though, which meant not all our scoring opportunities were taken.
A word about Rob Patterson. He has understudied Stu all season and been playing well for the seconds. He certainly took his chance well and he has a genuine break. The length of his pass also allowed Seb a bit of time – let’s hope the ‘Berwickers’ develop as our half back combination.
What has happened that has turned us from easy beats into winners in a year? Firstly, Bruce and his team know the score. They know a player with character and can recognise individuals that you can rely on. Our senior players like Richard Borthwick, Scott Riddell, Scott Brewster, Blair Tweedie, Phil Henry and others have also matured with us into men. West, on the other hand, looked young – they looked like us a few years ago.
‘That was a step back from the last two weeks. We were a bit soft in contact. We need to look for contact. We went through the motions, particularly at the end.’
Keith Robertson (West of Scotland coach)
‘Coming through, I was realistically looking for two points, knowing that Stew/Mel are going well. We left with nothing. We didn’t show enough belief and drifted in and out of the game. We can take positives from our young players that often made the break but couldn’t finish. I liked Trotter – I thought he made the right decisions for you.’
Lesley Bowie (Neil’s mum) – ‘I thought Neil played really well. Bob was more nervous than Neil.’
Referee (Ted Coutts, Watsonians)
‘After the start, when I had a disagreement with Stew/Mel about the clash of strips, I enjoyed my day – it was a good game. Actually, I was wrong, the strips were fine. You butchered some chances, by the way. I like your website – I like to read about the pies, these pies are good.’
9 penalties awarded to Stew/Mel, 8 awarded to West. 14 scrums for Stew/Mel (3 disrupted in first half and 1 lost, all won in second half). 11 scrums for West (3 disrupted – 1 in the first half and 2 in the second).
Was there anyone more miserable at Inverleith than Hayden, unable to play? He might have to be patient, but it’s a long season and we need him to play – give it a chance. Phil Hendry came off early with a shoulder injury – have to wait, but didn’t look too bad. Andrew Hughes and Jordan hope to be back next week.
‘Looking forward, you would think we should be in the playoffs – and, if we play like that against the Premier 1 teams, we will get annihilated. We have just got to be more clinical.’