Down Inverleith Way 15
Bitterly disappointing but not yet terminal! The defeat at the hands of Peebles (29-32) on Saturday has put a dent in aspirations for promotion and made the task more difficult, but a top two finish is still very much in reach and squarely in the hands of the Senior 1st XV.
President Simon Breeze bemoaned the 4 week break from competitive action that endangered the impetus from a 6 match winning streak, and, in truth, this performance bore a more than a passing resemblance to one or two of the slightly lacklustre performances produced in the earlier part of the season. The first up defence was not reminiscent of the stirring effort against GHK and indifferent game management, coupled with avoidable errors, accounted for several of the Borderers’ points.
Having said that, this is a game that should have been won, although one cannot deny Peebles, who, backed by a typically vociferous crowd, took their chances and pushed the laws to the limit when a last gasp driving RBG line out was held up in the in goal area.
The scrummage was solid, the line out efficient and more than enough second phase possession was generated to produce good field positions and scoring chances – evidenced by the try count of 5 to 4 in Stew Mel’s favour.
It is far too easy to criticise from the touchline as a spectator and one should not do so — but (!) the RBG seemed a little out of sorts and focus, and, in a game as tight as this, tried to play too much rugby in the wrong sections of the pitch. Everybody wants to see exciting, adventurous rugby but these League dominated days sometimes require some pragmatism. A scourge of the present day game? That is perhaps a discussion for another day!
To rub salt into the wound, big Rhu had to be carried off – ‘helped off’ might be a better description (!) – early in proceedings with a nasty leg injury (possibly a broken bone) and this will stretch front row resources. The club wishes him a speedy recovery.
Next Saturday is a massive fixture (against second placed Dumfries at Inverleith with a 2 pm kick off) and, undoubtedly, the coaches, Momo and the boys will be working hard for a more positive outcome. Nobody will be hurting more than them. It would be great if they could count on a large and vocally active support from the touchline – there is little doubt this can count as a sixteenth man!
Team manager David Calder reports that the Development XV also had a disappointing and tough day down at Philiphaugh. The team started the scoring (Neil Armstrong) and had another quick try from Mark Leckie. Thereafter, however, Selkirk kept probing and raced away to score 3 goals, 1 try and two penalty goals to make the half time score 32-10.
To their credit, the RBG worked hard in the next 40 minutes to make a much better fist of it and win the second half 10 -0 with tries from Alex Rappestad and Tom Petiau – the latter being described as a trademark ‘belly flop’. Sadly, that provided scant consolation with Selkirk ending up as worthy winners (32-20) through real rugby intelligence and good game management.
Alex Rappestad was named as Stew Mel man of the match by no less than John Rutherford, the Scotland and British Lions star. This will, hopefully, provide the inspiration for the Development XV to raise their game next Saturday as they face third placed Musselburgh at Pinkie.
All in all, therefore, a frustrating weekend and not the start to 2020 that one would have hoped for. The teams, will, however, be working hard to put things right and, as already said, they would really appreciate your support from the touchline this coming Saturday (25th January).
Finally, and a little belatedly, congratulations to the College 1st XV players – Christian Townsend, Michael Jones, Duncan Hood, Robert Gordon and Matt Russell – on their selection for the Scotland U18 training squad between Christmas and New Year.
Match photo by Charles Strachan