Down Inverleith Way 2

Down Inverleith Way 2

What a great weekend for Stewart’s Melville Rugby!

Friday saw 550 supporters, all resplendent in a variety of rugby shirts (many of which must have been searched for in boxes long lost in the attic), come together to back the club and the Edinburgh Headway Group charity at an amazing lunch held at the Prestonfield House Hotel. The assembled masses were royally entertained and enlightened by Dean Richards, Martin Johnson and Michael Lynagh, who reminisced with great clarity on various Rugby World Cups, Lions tours and Six Nation clashes. Not surprisingly, the latter’s view did not always concur with that of his fellow panelists, and there are obviously still some mysteries surrounding the Calcutta Cup’s adventures in Edinburgh!

Malcolm MacColl was an eloquent Master of Ceremonies and Willie Allan, as usual, excelled as Auctioneer. As an amateur club, Stew Mel relies on such ventures – along with the generosity of its sponsors – to keep itself solvent. Thank you to the ‘twins’ and their ‘back room staff’ for all their hard work in creating such an enjoyable event. It would also be remiss not to thank all those who contributed prizes to the auction and the purchasers for their generous bids.

How great it would be if, now, we could encourage more of the attendees to become regular supporters at Inverleith and of the team’s travels throughout Scotland. On that note, there might have been a few sore heads down Ferry Road on Saturday as we welcomed Kirkcaldy and Musselburgh to play the Senior 1st and 2nd XVs respectively – a certain gentleman must have had some very dark glasses on when selecting his couture of flame red trousers for the afternoon!. The better part of valour suggests that he should remain nameless!

Kirkcaldy, coming off the back of a serious Cup win against Newton Stewart and a narrow defeat at the hands of Dumfries (who threaten to be serious contenders in the league), were sure to be more than stern opponents, and so it proved. A powerful and very physical pack put the RBG under considerable pressure throughout the game. They controlled possession for significant portions of the 80 minutes, but, by and large, the home defence repelled everything that was thrown at it, and our attack managed to contrive some moments of real ingenuity to produce three tries. Indeed, the first 10 minutes of the match showcased attacking Stew Mel rugby at its best and two scores were thrown away only by failing to overcome white line fever. Sadly, the next 10 minutes highlighted the current propensity for giving away a plethora of needless penalties, which, inevitably, allowed the opposition to gain good field position and score the game’s opening try.

The Fifers will undoubtedly be disappointed to lose 19-13 and will probably question their tactics of eschewing penalty kicks in favour of trusting their pack to produce tries from the set piece. No doubt ‘take the points on offer’ will be part of their game debrief, and wisdom suggests that they will be well in the mix come the end of the season. Nevertheless, the steel and determination of the RBG performance cannot be denied and the home support retired to the clubhouse in great spirit. Look out for Kevin Murchie’s match report.

The Senior 2nd XV added to the feel-good factor with a 22-5 win against Musselburgh, the icing on the cake being the bonus point try which was scored with the last move of the game. A look at the team sheet gives an idea of the strength in depth that was available on Saturday and the competition for places can only be a good thing. They face a stern challenge next week when they encounter Heriot’s Blues at Goldenacre, while the Senior 1st XV have another home match against GHK (both kick off at 3pm). The Glaswegians scored a convincing result against Falkirk (a team that took Stew Mel to the wire in the opening game of the season) on Saturday and have recruited, among other people, coach Peter Wright and ex-professionals Jack Cuthbert and Kevin Bryce to their ranks. Another very stern contest is anticipated!

The Ferry Road Wanderers completed a clean sweep for the club when they defeated the Caledonian Thebans 3-97. They are now due to play Edinburgh Northern 2nd XV this coming Saturday at Inverleith.

The Colleges teams played Strathallan School in the Conference on Saturday. The 1st XV drew 22-22 and the 2nd XV lost 16-29 while the other six games resulted in Stew Mel wins. Open day for ESMS next Saturday means that only the 1st XV play when they travel to Newcastle to play the Royal Grammar School. This will be a real test for the boys.

Finally, on a more sober note, the club would like to thank both Musselburgh and Kirkcaldy for helping to observe a minute’s silence in honour of Brian Mitchell at Inverleith on Saturday.

Phil Waine

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