Down Inverleith Way 28

Down Inverleith Way 28

The last two weeks have not produced much succour for senior rugby at Stewart’s Melville. The 1st XV, firstly, undertook the difficult trip to Riverside to face a confident Jedforest who are looking odds on to finish in the top two. This makes them serious candidates for promotion to the Premiership.

As has often been the way this season, the RBG started brightly and put the Borderers under pressure without ever really threatening to cross the line for a confidence boosting try. Underlying this, however, there were ominous signs that the scrum was under pressure, and matters were not helped when Ruairidh Mitchell and Tom Croy were forced to retire early in proceedings due to head-knocks. It took a little time to adjust to the enforced changes but, nevertheless, territorial pressure was maintained. Sadly, a familiar pattern resurfaced and the first four scores against resulted from mistakes in the opposition 22 which were ruthlessly capitalised on by a talented backline. It did not help that one score resulted from a suspiciously forward pass (which even had the die-hard Jetharts blinking) and another which turned the penalisable offence of “crossing” into an art form.

All credit to the RBG in that they never threw in the towel and created several scoring chances of their own, but Jed were the dominant team and thoroughly deserved their convincing victory despite the final score (64-07) being somewhat flattering. It was also disappointing that Angus Wallace had to be escorted from the field after being laid out in a ruck/maul close to the Jed line. It is not certain how this happened.

The crunch match last Saturday against Musselburgh started really brightly and for 20 minutes SM looked in total control dominating both possession and territory. Despite several close misses the deserved score did not come. With almost their first foray out of their own half the Honest Toun men scored a converted try and the whole nature of the game changed. Doubt and uncertainty started to punctuate the RBG efforts and, once again, too many penalties were conceded at vital times. Two of these were converted into points and half-time arrived with a 13 point deficit.

The second half was a disjointed affair, but home support hopes were raised when Sean Murchie scorched in from 40 yards after some enterprising play released him into space. Unfortunately, despite several assaults on the visitors line, there was a lack of control and composure and Musselburgh, much to their delight, finished in the ascendancy and with a score to take the vital league points. Their relegation fears eased and the RBG’s looking increasingly precarious.

The players and coaches are working really hard to turn things around (as evidenced by the 45+ at training in appalling conditions on the Thursday prior to the Musselburgh game) but winning breeds confidence and this is in short supply at the moment. We are now 7 points adrift from Cartha and 10 points below Musselburgh – not an insurmountable task but one that will take a great deal of grit, determination and dedication to address. It will take a monumental effort from everybody involved and support from the touchline is vital – as ever, it is time to get behind the club!

While their colleagues engaged Jed, the Senior 2nd XV travelled 10 miles further south-west to Mansfield Park to take on Hawick Force. They gave the Teries a real fright and it was only a lack of replacements which saw them succumb to a late surge as the Borderers brought on fresh legs from the bench (48-24). The recent improvement came to fruition, however, when the RBG overcame Musselburgh 2nd XV (21-17) – for a welcome league win – which at least lifted some of the gloom pervading Inverleith.

This coming Saturday (27th January) sees the 1st XV travelling to Rubislaw to take on Aberdeen Grammar, the 2nd XV playing a friendly against Dunfermline and the Mighty 3’s picking their wits against the might of Edinburgh Northern 2nd XV.

Their first game after the Christmas break saw the College 1st XV undertaking the journey to Newcastle for the return fixture with Royal Grammar School. The first encounter in Edinburgh had produced a narrow win (34-28) and, therefore, a repeat victory on away soil (26-03) was a very satisfying outcome. The U16’s also travelled home with a useful and pleasing result (won 10-40). Sadly, last Saturday saw all 24 fixtures against George Watson’s cancelled because of the weather. This week-end (27th January) sees most of the teams playing Heriot’s while there are also some fixtures against Dollar and Trinity Academy.

The Stew Mel Lionesses were fortunate to be invited to be the Guard of Honour and play a demonstration game at half time during the Edinburgh vs Stade Francais European Challenge Cup at BT Murrayfield. For some it was a first visit to the National Stadium with the floodlights on and, for all, it was a memorable experience to play in front of such a large crowd.

Phil Waine

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