Some changes in the back line from the previous Saturday saw Geoff Angco and Jamie Thompson come in at 12 and 11, respectively, due to injuries sustained by Happy and Adam. I was, however, still surprised not to see Happy out there on the pitch, as, despite crutches and a brace on his left peg, his right appeared to be totally fine. Seriously, though, I wish them both well and a speedy recovery.
To say Stewart’s Melville had a good start playing towards Ferry Road would be an understatement. As in a significant number of games this season, it wasn’t long before we were treated to the sight of Scott Alldritt making an impressive break. The ball was moved with urgency thereafter, but, unfortunately, a knock on meant the first scrum of the afternoon around the Whitecraigs 22. A great drive saw Stewart’s Melville winning back possession and Captain Momo was soon over for the first try with just over a minute played. It wasn’t long before Darren Miller, Willie Malcolm and, ultimately, Joe Bailey combined to score the second, with Joe having the final say. Two tries in three minutes with Euan Bowen converting both. Stewart’s Melville 14 – Whitecraigs 0.
At the restart Whitecraigs managed to make some ground within our 22 but they couldn’t hold on to possession. A good scrum and a Fraser Strachan boot put Stewart’s Melville back within the Whitecraigs half where the ball was wrestled out of a visiting player’s arms by Doug Randall. The resulting ‘chip’ was, however, too far. That led to a scrum at the halfway line, Whitecraigs ball, and it was not long before Scott’s turnover resulted in a line out 10 meters out; a combination of James Ferguson, Fraser Strachan and Jamie Sword then made progress towards the line but were held up. It wasn’t long, however, before further pressure led to another try, Doug scoring with Euan adding the extras. 15 minutes played, Stewart’s Melville 21 – Whitecraigs 0.
As play resumed a midfield combination of Geoff and James led to Scott popping up and exploiting the width. Doug was involved once more, quick recycled ball allowing Sean Murchie, coming off the right wing, to burst through the centre and score. 17 minutes played, Stewart’s Melville 28 – Whitecraigs 0.
Four tries and the bonus point in the bag.
A kick through by Stewart’s Melville was well picked up by Whitecraigs and then their winger Edmund Abekhe took off, almost running the length of the pitch and breaking numerous tackles en route before James Ferguson put in an all important try saving tackle. The aforementioned Whitecraigs speedster was certainly a danger, and, had he not had to leave the pitch towards the end of the first half, I am convinced he would have been on the score sheet.
Another big boot downfield by Fraser resulted in a penalty against Stewart’s Melville for a high tackle, allowing Whitecraigs to enjoy a bit more possession that ended with a drive towards our line. The visitors found themselves in touch a short distance out, though, and momentum was lost, allowing Stewart’s Melville to clear their lines .
Whitecraigs were still making breaks in midfield but were being well marshalled, albeit they were soon the beneficiaries of another penalty. Some good counter rucking by Stewart’s Melville soon, however, allowed us to regain possession. Further pressure then lead to Darren Miller driving over for another converted try to make it Stewart’s Melville 35 – Whitecraigs 0.
As half time approached, Stewart’s Melville were again in the ascendancy and this time space was created for Jamie Thompson to sprint in from the corner, making it Stewart’s Melville 40 – Whitecraigs 0. With minutes remaining Whitecraigs put some good phases together and were soon over for a well deserved try. Half time: Stewart’s Melville 40 – Whitecraigs 5.
A couple of changes at the beginning of the second half saw Michael Miller in at 10 and Joe Bailey replaced by Ben Dollery. Ben made an immediate impact and was soon on the scoreboard, which now read Stewart’s Melville 45 – Whitecraigs 5. At the restart Stewart’s Melville were driving forward once more, and, after a strong scrum at the halfway line, James managed to get involved in the battle of possession; he duly won that battle and only had to make a short sprint to the try line. 42 minutes played, Stewart’s Melville 50 – Whitecraigs 5.
Momo was the next one to retire, replaced by number 16 Stephen Spowart. A scrappy period then ensued, with both teams looking for a bit of structure, though our good hands and support lines soon returned. Much to their credit, Whitecraigs were quick to get things going whenever opportunities arose, despite being under the cosh. Our pressure continued, though, and it wasn’t long before Doug was over for another try with Michael converting. 60 minutes played, Stewart’s Melville 57 – Whitecraigs 5.
Doug was then given a well earned rest as Joe came back on, this time propping things up. Another try soon came, and, with around 20 minutes left, the score was Stewart’s Melville 62 – Whitecraigs 5. There was still more to come, though, and Ally Scott had the final say of the afternoon to make the final score Stewart’s Melville 69 – Whitecraigs 5. Eleven tries, only four of them unconverted – not a bad afternoon’s work.
It’s difficult to say much after what was a fairly one sided affair, but, to their credit, the opposition had a go whenever they could, and, as said, perhaps could have managed at least another try as both wingers were constantly threatening. It’s been a tough season for Whitecraigs and I assume they will now have to consider where they go to next. As for Stewart’s Melville, it has to be only one way – and that’s onwards and (hopefully) upwards.
Stewart’s Melville played with pace on Saturday and looked fit. The interplay between forwards and backs, with quick hands and good understanding, was impressive. The players didn’t allow complacency to enter the field of play despite their winning margin. At times, though, simple rugby might have been the better option and we could have made more use of our renowned width (which was, of course, still well exploited at times). As I’ve said, though, the cohesion between forwards and backs was excellent, with the ball constantly being kept alive – which will always give scoring opportunities.
The countdown is now on, with a brief National Cup semi-final interlude coming up shortly – but first, another home game with an early kick off on Saturday against Newton Stewart.
If I have missed any of the scorers from Saturday, or, indeed, credited anyone with a score erroneously, then the latter can just enjoy the moment and ensure they score at the weekend! Keep the support coming.
Match photograph by Jax MacKenzie Photography