Down Inverleith Way 20
Arriving at Park Farm, the man at the gate opined, “It’s a little windy but it is not raining — yet!” His description of a mere zephyr turned out to be an understatement of biblical proportions and ‘Storm Jorge’ ensured that the rain (sleet and snow) arrived with a vengeance. Undoubtedly, the home of Dumfries rugby on a benign day is a wonderful place, but on Saturday the elements made it an environment sent to test even the most hardy. Absolutely no criticism of the Galloway welcome – the weather attacked both sides with equal venom!
Still no rain as the RBG kicked off with the gale at their backs. This was a strange game. The team facing the elements, paradoxically, ruled proceedings and thus the Saints dominated large sections of the opening 40 minutes. They scored first and, showing admirable ball retention skills, spent an uncomfortable proportion of the time in their visitors’ 22. However, almost unnoticed, Stew Mel kept in the game, scoring three tries (‘Happy’ converting two) and making sure that the hosts were only allowed to cross the try line once more.
19-10 at half time was an uneasy lead, however, and, as the whistle blew for part two, ‘Jorge’ intervened with spectacular malevolence and added driving rain to the inclemency. The home supporters were licking the rain off their lips at the prospect of a second half backed by a meteorological weather phenomenon.
For ten minutes the RBG had their backs to the wall but superb defence eventually turned the tide, and, for the remainder of the match, Dumfries were contained largely in their own half – with much of the time spent in their 22 and facing the threat of a fourth try bonus point.
No scores in the second half (final result 10-19) is an absolute credit to both defences, who basically repelled whatever their opponents contrived to conjure up in the appalling conditions. Getting points on the board when the weather was at its ‘best’ proved to be a trump card for Stew Mel.
Apologies for the sketchy details, particularly of the second half, when much of the time was spent peering from behind the clubhouse wall – without glasses, which had inextricably steamed up due to both the weather and the tension. Thanks must go to Richard Hughes, who, despite his nervous chain smoking, did his best to keep up a running commentary!
In many ways, the conditions were a real shame, as both teams try to play open, expansive rugby. This was virtually impossible but always there was the intent from both sets of players.
Hopefully, Kevin Murchie’s dictation machine did not succumb to the conditions and he will be able to give a blow by blow account of proceedings. Whatever, this was an effort of real guts by the RBG, and there was a great feeling of pride in the performance and attitude of the players.
Finally, a big thank you to those who made the effort to travel and support on one of the foulest days of the year. The cries of “Stew Mel” certainly made a difference. The President and Vice-President were a drookit but happy duo in the changing room after the match and are now fervently encouraging everybody to come out of the woodwork and back the promotion push.
National One is potentially on the cards, but, by absolutely no means, can it – or should it be – be taken for granted. Dumfries are still very much in the hunt; Peebles ominously improved their position with an emphatic win over Newton Stewart; and GHK have a game in hand. Added to this, Gordonians (fighting for survival) had an impressive win over Hamilton and Glasgow Accies (finally freeing themselves from injury problems) overpowered Kirkcaldy. Likewise, Whitecraigs and Falkirk are battling for their lives, and, in a league where there are no easy matches, they become even more dangerous opponents!
The final RBG fixtures are:
7th March Whitecraigs @ Inverleith
14th March Newton Stewart @ Inverleith
21st March Gordonians @ Countesswells
28th March Lasswade @ Hawthornden (National League Cup semi-final)
4th April Hamilton @ Laigh Bent
11th April Glasgow Accies @ ‘Home’ (but Inverleith not available)
25th April Falkirk @ ‘Home’ (but Inverleith not available)
Sadly, Biggar had to concede the match against the Stew Mel Development XV on Saturday because of a shortage of front row cover. Playing numbers, particularly in key positions where safety is of paramount importance, is a continuing problem for Scottish Rugby.
Next Saturday sees the Senior 1st XV playing Whitecraigs at Inverleith while the Development XV are pitted against Boroughmuir at Meggetland. Both games kick off at 3 pm and the players would be delighted to have your support.
College Rugby took a hammering from the weather but games did survive in the Borders and Glasgow. The A teams at U16 and U14 recorded victories against Earlston High School (31-40 and 0-30 respectively).
Meanwhile six Junior College teams travelled to Glasgow and came home with five wins. The results were as follows:
P7A v Glasgow HS Won 8-0
P7B v Hutchesons’ Won 6-3
P7C v Glasgow HS Won 7-3
P7D v Hutchesons’ Won 6-3
P6A v Hutchesons’ Lost 2-6
P6B v Hutchesons’ Won 10-1
The Schools’ Sevens season was meant to have started but, so far, has been wiped out by the weather!
See you on Saturday.
Match photograph c/o Libby Blakeman @OGBlakemanphotography