Down Inverleith Way 17

Down Inverleith Way 17

At half-time last Saturday there was a terrible feeling of déjà vu at Inverleith. Never mind ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’, it looked ominously like ‘Shocker at Pennypit’ was getting a re-run!

A well-drilled, skilled and motivated PL team comprehensively controlled the game – to the tune of 0-22 – taking full advantage of a hesitant and lacklustre home side whose collective mind seemed to be elsewhere. The East Lothian men physically dominated the contact areas and created multiple chances with slick handling and direct running. The whistle to end the first 40 minutes came as a blessed relief for a worried home support who could only wonder what possible route there could be for a way back into the contest?

Stern words were said during the interval and there was a visible change of approach and attitude in the first few minutes of the second half. An unusual opening gambit to get back into the game came courtesy of a Charlie Simmonds drop goal – something rarely, if ever, seen on Pitch 1 since Douglas Morgan was in his pomp or Eric Cartwright played with two left boots! Perhaps a questionable tactic but one that, in the circumstances – to get on the scoreboard first – proved to be a catalyst for a remarkable recovery. Memories of Twickenham last year!

Over the next frenetic 30 minutes the RBG conjured up an unanswered 24 points through tries by Doug Randall, James Ferguson (2) and Jack Pennell with two conversions from Euan Morrison. PL were never out of the contest, however, and they came roaring back with a converted try which left them two points ahead with 5 minutes left to play! Was it a case of so near but so far?

Undeterred, the RBG launched one final assault which saw Jamie McGurk go in under the posts for Euan to add the conversion before the whistle sounded to end the contest. Final score: won 34-29. Oh ye of little faith!

Mixed emotions in both camps, with the home side celebrating their ‘get out of jail card’ and the visitors wondering how they had let things slip. Another great game for the neutral and an emotional battering for the committed supporter – and it all has to be repeated in two weeks’ time!

Hopefully the RBG will take due cognisance and learn from the contest, and the second half will be the template for the next encounter against very dangerous opponents. On the plus side, there was some very good Stew Mel rugby in the latter 40 minutes and a number of the Development XV got the chance to represent the senior XV. Indeed, they performed with distinction and Jack Pennell was even named the RBG Man of the Match. Kevin Murchie’s match report should be a cracker!

Involvement in Cup action has seen the Senior XV fall from 1st to 4th place in the league as GHK, Dumfries and Peebles all recorded victories. The Glaswegians are currently top of the pile but only by one point. Club rugby takes a break on Saturday as England visit Murrayfield for the Calcutta Cup but Saturday 15th February sees some crunch fixtures at both ends of the table. Please put this date in your diary and come to Inverleith to support the boys in this vital match (2 p.m. kick off). As 16th man you can play your part!

Some of you might have noticed that Gregory Alldritt was named as France’s man of the match against England on Saturday, thus emulating his brother Scott who received the same accolade in the Stew Mel match against Dumfries. Perhaps the younger sibling will consider a step up and join the troops at Inverleith!

It was not a good week for Development Team Manager David Calder, who was faced with no fewer than 22 call-offs for the match against Hawick Force. Despite Herculean efforts, he had little choice but to apologise to the Borderers and concede the match. A big ‘sorry’ to our opponents. It can be a thankless task organising a team in an amateur club and it is to be hoped that he will not be left in this position again.

Congratulations to the Lions section of the club who raised nearly £300 last week for the Wooden Spoon charity by washing cars during the game against Dumfries. It is also right to thank the ball boys and girls who, week in and week out, provide such valuable assistance on the touch line. It is much appreciated by everybody.

It would be excellent if information about the Lions could be included in this memo but, so far, requests for details have not been successful. Is there anybody out there who might be willing to take on this task? It would be greatly appreciated.

Vice-President Bill McNie is an almost ever present at Inverleith and away matches, but he is always a little reticent about his own rugby career. This recently discovered article, written by the great man in the dim and distant past, might provide some information!

“While members of the 1st and 2nd XV’s spend much of their time sweating blood in the multigym and psyching themselves up for the next clash, there exists, at a more sedate pace, the part-time rugby players of the lower teams, whose playing exploits are unlikely to set the world alight. While a high standard of play is common, and competition is just as keen, players are in short supply, and masters in charge are often to be seen stalking the lunch hall, ambushing unsuspecting bodies in the midst of their pie and chips. Practices may consist of 20-a-side skirmishes, but there never seem to be quite so many people available on a Friday – perhaps their granny has passed away. For the fifth time?

“The opposition always seem to be bigger than us; this is not, as one master put it, due to the fact that ‘their yellow shirts make them look larger – it’s a well known scientific fact!’ To counter this, ‘guest’ players are often drafted in, ranging from failed footballers to ‘injured’ 2nd XV players. Unfortunately, the ‘Enemy’ seemed to use this as well! Facilities often leave a great deal to be desired – draughty corridors hardly make for scintillating pre-match briefings (‘Okay lads, get out there and play rugby’). And the far flung nature of the grounds often results in some unfortunate being hauled out of bed by a master on a Saturday morning – “Kick-off in 3 minutes, boy!”

“But, despite this, the members of the lower teams get just as much out of their rugby as their more esteemed colleagues, even if the results do not quite reflect this. And as somebody probably said, “Tis better to have played and lost than to have played hockey at all . . .”

(The Collegian, December 1984)

Here’s hoping for success at Murrayfield on Saturday!

Phil Waine

Match photo by Jax MacKenzie Photography

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