Down Inverleith Way 14

Down Inverleith Way 14

News of Stewart’s Melville’s Senior 1st XV’s victory over Glasgow High Kelvinside (won 6-10) hit the headlines on Saturday night courtesy of BBC Radio Scotland!

Peter Wright, the GHK coach, made reference to the match before starting his commentary on the Glasgow v La Rochelle game. He maintained that the winning penalty try might have been marginally contentious — but he did concede that it could have been awarded in the previous two plays. Say no more!

For the third week running the weather was atrocious but the Old Anniesland pitch looked immaculate under the lights. A great credit to the home club and their groundsmen — both Anniesland pitches (New and Old) rival Inverleith as the best playing surface in Scotland. If it had been a mud bath it is doubtful that either side would have survived hypothermia!

It was not a day for flowing rugby, but, despite a large dose of wet ball mishaps, two well matched sides contrived to produce an entertaining – if tense – encounter. Defence from both sides was outstanding, but, as the match wore on, the RBG forwards started to gain ascendancy which allowed several concerted assaults on the Glaswegians’ line.

Down 3-6 and with only a few minutes to go, a penalty award in front of the posts and 5 metres out caused a major dilemma for the away support. Kick the points for a draw or go for glory? Without a moment’s hesitation, Captain Momo puffed out his chest, set his jaw – Desperate Dan fashion – and solved the conundrum by calling for a scrum. 4 dominant set pieces and 4 penalties later, the referee had little choice but to award the above mentioned ultimate sanction.

The agony for Edinburghers (what are the folk from Edinburgh called?) was not yet over, though, as the Glaswegians launched one last furious assault deep in the RBG half.  Rock solid defence through several phases eventually forced the hosts to concede a penalty which Fraser Strachan delightedly dispatched to touch for the referee to signal the end of an intriguing encounter. Watch out for Kevin’s match report.

So the festive break has been reached with Stew Mel in second place in National 2, one point behind the still leading GHK. The players, team manager and coaching staff deserve great credit for the hard work and the undoubted improvement that has taken place since September. The forwards have turned into a formidable unit and the backs are showing greater steel in defence and – benefiting from the confidence garnered from six consecutive victories – increasingly utilising their attacking potential. There is also a real squad feeling behind the whole effort and great back up from the Development XV.

Nothing can – or will be- taken for granted, though. A mere six points divide the top six teams, and, as has become increasingly apparent, any team is capable of beating another on their day. One disappointing experience pertaining to a previous performance might have been offset on Saturday, but there is still the memory of Pennypit Park lurking at the back of the mind to keep feet firmly on the ground.

Whatever, it is great to be at the business end of the table!

The Development XV’s report this week comes from “Gutted at Malleny Park’:

“A much changed side started with Murray Hanning guesting on the flank and Michael Miller at 10. Furthermore Brendan Scott and Stewart Hagart answered the ‘Bat Signal’ to sit on the bench and leave Dave Hampton to his coaching duties. The latter entered the fray as a replacement for Murray in the first half, and, at one stage, was joined by Ted Truby who was on as a blood replacement for Gavin McGregor.

“Stew Mel kicked off but it was Currie who took a 7-0 lead. The RBG responded, however, with a try from Gareth Henderson which was converted to level the score at 7 all. For much of the half SM were applying pressure but resolute Currie defence prevailed.

“There was only one score in the 2nd half, and, sadly, it belonged to Currie. It followed a similar pattern to the previous 40 minutes with the Stewart’s Melville forwards applying considerable pressure, but, despite all the effort, the defence just managed to hold firm. All credit to Currie.

“It is a measure of how far this team has come that being narrowly defeated by the reserve team of the Premiership’s 2nd place club is now a great disappointment. A losing bonus point was of little solace in the away changing room (lost 12-7).

“2019 finishes with the Development XV in 3rd place in the league behind the 2nd XV’s of Hawick and Musselburgh, respectively”.

Again great credit to the Coach and the Team Manager.

So the club goes into the New Year in great heart but under no illusion that anythinghas been achieved so far.

Finally, it is only right also to acknowledge all the people working behind the scenes, led by Chairman Fin and the ‘Dynamic Duo’ (also known as President Simon Breeze and Vice-President Bill McNie), to keep the club alive and functioning.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everybody. See you at Inverleith on Saturday 11th January!

Phil Waine

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