Down Inverleith Way 22
Back to heightened blood pressure and raised heart rate! The relatively relaxed demeanour of last week’s encounter against Whitecraigs was quickly banished from the memory as the Senior 1st XV produced a rather disjointed and lacklustre first half performance against a youthful Newton Stewart XV.
The reason was difficult to fathom. Perhaps the urgency and desire for 5 league points caused a certain amount of nervousness, but, to be fair, the men from Bladnoch Park played with both imagination and no little skill. Their backs showed creativity and the ability to open up a defence while the forwards managed to contain Stewart’s Melville’s set piece dominance. This was particularly evident in the scrum, where, on their own head, an inventive use of the put in, Channel 1 ball (if there is still such a thing) and a fast pick up from No. 8 allowed them to breach the gain line even from retreating possession.
The half finished with multiple 5 metre scrum penalties to the RBG but no more points. A Willie Malcolm try (converted by Euan Bowen) for the home side and a penalty for the visitors were the only things to trouble the scoreboard. A deserved lead (7-3) but one riddled with frustration.
Obviously things were said during the interval and this, along with a more ‘settled’ scrummage and an increasingly strong line out platform, brought a completely different complexion to the remaining 40 minutes. Two powerful scrums both rendered scores which seemed to soothe nerves (both on and off the pitch), and, from there, the RBG performance increasingly mirrored the continuity rugby of the previous Saturday.
Against a valiant but tiring defence, line breaks were made, and, crucially, supported, offloads stuck and slick movement of the ball, by both backs and forwards, created numerous scoring chances. Three were taken by the forwards through Scott Alldritt (2) and Chris Baikie, and the equivalent number by the backs courtesy of Fraser Strachan, Jamie Thompson and James Ferguson.
A final score of 45-8 suggests a comfortable afternoon but this would be inequitable to Newton Stewart, who have proved to be very worthy opponents to everybody in the league. They troubled the Stew Mel defence on several occasions and it was only in the final quarter that the home side really managed to cut loose in attack.
It was great to see Alex Rappestad returning to the 1st XV fold and Connor McKay coming back from injury. We also wish Colin, our trusty touch judge (and the latter’s father), a speedy recovery.
With the league suspended for the foreseeable future and great uncertainty as to how things might be resolved, it was immensely pleasing to see the game concluding in some style to showcase RBG rugby. Whatever materialises, congratulations to the coaching staff and the players for their efforts so far. To be sitting on top of such a competitive league (even with 4 games to go —- and anything could happen!) is no mean achievement.
Finally, a plea for everybody to take care in these worrying times.
Match photograph by Jax MacKenzie Photography