Down Inverleith Way 18
Part three of the ‘Preston Lodge Trilogy’ – ‘even stevens’ and everything to play for! Part one and Part two (league and then Cup) had raised the stakes and created a mouth-watering finale of vital importance for both clubs as they seek elevation in the National Leagues. With the previous encounters having sorely tested the endurance and fortitude of supporters of each persuasion, there was visible tension as the sides took to the field.
Considering the weather, Pitch 1 was in excellent condition (thanks to Groundsman Willie) even if the overhead conditions were foul. The RBG took the field shorn of Captain Momo in the second row and props Big Rhu and Connor McKay and there was, therefore, a little apprehension as to how the revamped pack would cope under such demanding circumstances.
Fear not! The reconstituted front row scrummaged like dervishes and the forwards to a man produced a commanding performance in the set piece and the loose. Benefiting from this lead, the backs (still minus Sean Murchie) played with a sense of adventure, but, importantly, mixed that with a large degree of tactical maturity which saw the game mainly played in the right part of the pitch. The suspicion that Stew Mel are only a fair weather side was firmly put to bed.
It is also pleasing to note the positive discipline brought to this fixture. Too often our efforts have been offset by conceding penalties at key moments in both defence and attack. If anything, the boot was on the other proverbial foot on Saturday (and this is no reference to Eric Cartwright!)
So a pleasing performance from the RBG, but, from all quarters, there was much admiration for the defensive efforts of the men from East Lothian. Their organisation and tackle count was absolutely immense. Time and again Stew Mel attacks were repelled, and, although the final score was 18-0, the result could never have been taken for granted! Watch out for Kevin Murchie’s match report.
So, in conclusion, an important win. Thanks to PL for the excitement! The three games will have been an exhilarating spectacle for the neutral but visible relief was apparent amongst the Inverleith faithful on Saturday. Such is the nature of this league, however, that the win merely leads to another difficult challenge against Falkirk next Saturday. The Central Region men might currently be operating in the lower echelons, but those who attended the opening match of this season at Sunnyside will be only too aware that victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat!
A jubilant David Calder, team manager of (and emergency replacement prop for) the Development XV, reported that the Gav Calder Cup finally found its way home to Inverleith – after 3 years of trying – by virtue of a victory over Edinburgh Academicals (for anybody who might be unaware, the trophy is contested by the two clubs in honour of a much respected and loved figure of Stewart’s Melville rugby).
The RBG started playing towards the road end as ‘Storm Dennis’ unleashed itself. Mid way through the first half Charles Campbell scored a try after a series of forward drives and it was successfully converted to give the home side a 7-0 lead at half time.
The next score came courtesy of Craig Lamb after he was put into space by some superb handling from Matt Watson. 12-0 to Stew Mel, but, unbowed, the Raeburn Place men quickly responded with an unconverted try. The rest of proceedings were typified by resolute defence with neither side quite able to break the other down, and, despite some close chances, the score remained 12-5 at the final whistle.
Again thanks to Willie for getting the pitch playable and also to the referee, who survived the elements, thus allowing both teams to beat the weather when a high percentage of club rugby was cancelled throughout Scotland.
Also of note on Saturday was the large and vocal home crowd. Their presence obviously inspires the players, and, hopefully, the ‘16th Man Effect’ can be maintained for the rest of the season. Equally, it was great to see and hear the buzz in the clubhouse after the game and to listen to some analysis of the game and to some embellished accounts of past glories – not always ones that took place on the pitch!
Next Saturday, Scotland may be playing Italy in Rome (2.15 k/o) but the big match is at Inverleith when Stew Mel play Falkirk at Inverleith with a 3 pm start. Please make appropriate arrangements to record the International and come down to Inverleith to support the RBG.
See you on Saturday!
Match photograph by Jax MacKenzie Photography