Down Inverleith Way 16
“What a difference a day makes”- so the song goes. For Stewart’s Melville Senior 1st XV, it should read, “What a difference a week makes”. From the previous week, they produced an unrecognisable performance against Dumfries Saints (won 33-24) which dulled the disappointment from Peebles through an effort bristling with intent, adventure and passion.
Both teams set out with the ambition to play free flowing rugby and what followed was certainly an exciting encounter. For the neutral a thriller; for the RBG faithful (and possibly for those from Dumfries as well) a nerve-jangling, nail-biting and blood-pressure threatening 80 minutes. Any win in this league has not come easily in 2019/20 and Stew Mel seem to be the master of never taking the easy route to closing the door! Ask Richard Hughes and the two British Lions patrolling the touchline!
This, admittedly biased, observer felt that the home side were marginally more in control, but, every time a significant advantage threatened, the men from the South conjured up an outcome to keep the result in the balance until the bitter end. Of concern will be the two scores that they were handed on a plate by poor first up resistance and a lack of concentration in unthreatening situations.
Indeed, while the defence was generally sound, too often Dumfries were allowed to breach the gain line with the first tackle being missed or only partially completed. This is something which is bound to be exercising the minds of both the coaches and the players.
Back to the positive, however, with the firm Inverleith surface allowing the RBG to forget the glaur of last week. The set piece was solid, with line out success being particularly noteworthy, and it was a joy to see the backs using the ball with real purpose. The handling was sharp, lines of running inventive and the wingers, Sean Murchie and Adam Greig, must have thought Christmas had come early (or late!) as they were supplied with enough possession really to test out their opponents. Perhaps movement was a little lateral at times but this might well have been due to the quality of the Doonhamers’ defence.
Not to be outdone, the forwards carried the ball with aggression and the subsequent lines of support allowed numerous breaches of the gain line and deep incursions into enemy territory. Scott Alldritt might have been named man of the match but Connor McKay produced a couple of breenging runs which suggested that he had taken possession of the injured Rhu Mitchell’s ‘go faster’ boots! It is, however, invidious to single out individuals – this was a real team effort.
Watch out for Kevin Murchie’s match report. Good to have him back!
7 points covers the top 6 sides in the Division. So, as it has been all season, there is no room to manoeuvre. The return fixture at Park Farm will, therefore, be as crucial as any of the 8 league games left in the quest for promotion.
The brevity of the report from the Development XV’s team manager (David Calder) concerning the match against Musselburgh (lost 35-21) suggests that it was not, perhaps, their finest 80 minutes!
“Not the best of first half displays at Stoneyhill. 25-0 down at half time with two players in the sin bin. Enough said!
“A spirited second half performance saw the RBG score through Geoff Angco, Matt Watson and Murray Hanning”.
So, for the second week running, they won the second half after letting the opposition get out of sight. Hopefully they will be victorious in both 40 minutes next week when Hawick Force come to visit Inverleith in a re-arranged league game (1.30 kick off).
The Senior 1st XV, meanwhile, have a week off league rugby as they entertain Preston Lodge at Inverleith in a National Cup match with a 1.30 kick-off. Bizarrely, the East Lothian side are also our next league opponents (on 15th February, also at home) as SRU regulations do not allow for a ‘double header’. No Stew Mel supporter will want to remember the first league encounter against the men from Prestonpans!
Finally, the College 1st XV met one of Ulster’s top teams last Saturday when they played the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. They lost 10-26 but it was a valuable experience for several young players. This coming Saturday sees fixtures against Merchiston.
Match photo by Jax MacKenzie Photography