NEXT GAME: v Glasgow Accies | Saturday 16 November @ New Anniesland KO 2 pm

Match Report v Whitecraigs RFC | Saturday 2nd November

A carnival atmosphere greeted us as we arrived for the now earlier kick off time of 2 pm. The crowds had gathered, the marquees were up, the hot foot outlets were serving up a variety of ethnic food and the bar was rammed. All this and some strange attire ranging from sleeping policemen to chickens was nothing to do with the rugby! It appears that the venue was hosting an annual get together for student vets, and, and, with some strange ‘It’s A Knockout’ type games being played out on the adjacent pitch, music pumping out of the marquees (not very good music, at that) and more beer being spilled than consumed, it was certainly a different setting as Stew Mel initiated proceedings on a damp autumnal day on a wide pitch akin to Invers.

Possession was immediately regained, which the forwards made good use of, making inroads well into the Whitecraigs half. Doug Randall, Momo and the distinctive scrum cap of Scott Alldritt lead the charge down the blindside, but, although the pitch was wide, it wasn’t quite wide enough to keep the ball in play, resulting in a line out in Whitecraigs’ favour, giving them the opportunity to clear their lines.

Stew Mel attacked once more, and, although knocking on in the process to bring the first scrum of the afternoon, possession was soon back with Stew Mel once again, this time Happy breaking through a few defenders, and, with Euan Bowen and Jamie Sword also having a go from 10m out, it wasn’t long before James powered his way over on the left. With less than 10 minutes played it was Whitecraigs 0 – Stew Mel 5.

A positive start, then, only marred by Euan Bowen departing due to an eye injury, with Happy taking up the reins at 10. A poor restart by Whitecraigs then played into our hands, and, with less than 15 minutes played, Matthew Watson slalomed his way through the Whitecraigs defence. A great individual try, with Happy adding the extras. Whitecraigs 0 – Stew Mel 12.

Stew Mel were clearly in the ascendency, however a mistake gifted Whitecraigs a chance to play some rugby in the visitors’ half. This respite was short lived as, again, more pressure was applied with the boot, and, with the forwards showing dominance in the set piece and the loose, Doug rumbled over for the third try of the afternoon. Happy converted to make the score Whitecraigs 0 – Stew Mel 19.

Another period of pressure, this time being applied by Whitecraigs, lead to a clearly kickable penalty, but, unfortunately (from their perspective) the kick was wide. As open play resumed there appeared to be a bit of equilibrium in terms of both possession and mistakes on both sides. A relatively scrappy period followed, with about 30 minutes having been played, but it wasn’t long before a degree of composure returned, a penalty in Stew Mel’s favour allowing us to kick for field position. With clean ball coming from the line out, it was Happy who duly converted his own try, giving the half time score (with the bonus point in the bag) of Whitecraigs 0 – Stew Mel 26.

The second half was soon underway, with Whitecraigs enjoying some early possession. They were almost over the line after some strong forward play 5m out but the ball was adjudged to have been held up. Stew Mel were able to ease the pressure thereafter but Whitecraigs, having had a sniff of the line, were eager to get another, and, after a well earned turnover, they attacked once more, using the width, and managed to get over for their first and only try of the afternoon. 55 minutes played, Whitecraigs 5 – Stew Mel 26.

As play resumed Whitecraigs were managing to slow the ball down, the result being that our backs were not able to penetrate as much as they had done in the first half, with their opposite numbers very much fighting fire with fire. Our dominant scrum gradually began to come to the fore, and, after more territory and a line out in Whitecraigs 22, a penalty came Stew Mel’s way. Quick thinking from Fraser got the back line moving and exploiting the width once more gave Chris Baikie the opportunity to bulldoze his way over, Happy adding the extras. Around 60 minutes played, Whitecraigs 5 – Stew Mel 33.

The onslaught then restarted in the hosts’ half once more, with concerted pressure ultimately leading to a penalty try with almost 70 minutes played. That made it Whitecraigs 5 – Stew Mel 40. In the final 10 minutes it was one way traffic, with Whitecraigs having no answer to Stew Mel’s pack. After quick hands through the back line, there was still time to add some more points, this time courtesy of Jamie McGurk, giving Happy an easy conversion. Final score Whitecraigs 5 – Stew Mel 47.

A satisfying result and a performance that, I assume, would (by and large) have pleased the coaches. Perhaps not quite as slick as the previous Saturday, but, regardless of who you are playing and the score you rack up against them, patterns of play can still be disrupted, forcing errors. It is inevitable that the win over Dumfries in the Cup will be used as a benchmark for what this team is capable of, with, perhaps, the Preston Lodge game showing what can happen all too easily if game management and control is not sustained for the 80 minutes. There were one or two periods on Saturday, particularly towards the end of the first half, where this was again apparent, but, as said, the opposition played a part in this and made every effort to compete gallantly and to the best of their ability.

As the players dispersed the student party was still in full swing. The music had improved slightly and some of those dressed as sleeping policemen were showing that lack of sleep (or, perhaps, alcohol consumption) was finally catching up with them. With the clubhouse resembling a disrupted holiday weekend in the departure lounge at Heathrow, it was clearly time to head east and look forward to next Saturday. Let’s hope for a similar performance against Gordonians – and to see that performance reflected in an improved league position for once!

Kevin Murchie

Down Inverleith Way 9

Arriving at Whitecraigs to be met with four human sized, walking traffic cones suggested that this might be rugby with a difference. A bunch of dancing bananas did nothing to deflate the hallucination, and, when Wonder Woman x 6 strode past, the confusion was almost complete. Following the very muddy path to the pitch brought no clarification as music boomed out from a large tent erected just behind the dead ball line – something which continued as a backdrop to the whole game.

It took coach Jonny Else, and Vice President Bill McNie to bring some sense to proceedings. The match was to take place amidst a Veterinary School Convention attended by students from across Britain, and, despite the dreich weather, it was easy to confirm that a fine time was being had by all!

VP Bill initially thought it was a warm up for his trip next weekend to Tilburg in the Netherlands to see the band Golden Earring (of ‘Radar Love’ fame – look up Spotify) but the musical genre quickly dispelled such contemplation.

As to the match itself (won 47-5), the surreal ambience and wet conditions led to a rather low key affair. The RBG were in command for most of the first half and the four try bonus point achieved just before the interval whistle allowed the rather sparse away support to relax, secure in the knowledge that a 26-0 lead might be more than enough to garner a full complement of league points.

The spirited Whitecraigs team scored the first try of the second half, but, thereafter, Stew Mel were generally in control and accumulated a further 21 points in a 40 minutes dominated by a plethora of penalties and handling mistakes. A very scrappy affair but one that the team did well to negotiate to leave Newton Mearns with a win in the bag. A game that might have been a problem in the past – and, to be fair, in patches some excellent and enterprising rugby had been produced. Watch out for Kevin Murchie’s match report.

Last Saturday’s National 2 produced some interesting scores for the consideration of the RBG faithful. Gordonians, next week’s opponents at Inverleith, achieved their second win of the current campaign, beating Falkirk by the odd point in 39. Those who travelled to Sunnyside (the home of Falkirk) for the first game of the season will need no reminding of just how difficult it was to scrape a victory against the ‘Bairns’.

Glasgow Accies (our opponents the following week) have had a horrendous, injury wrecked season to date. They achieved an eye-catching result on Saturday, though, when they downed one of the title chasing teams, Hamilton Bulls, by 36-32. They invested heavily in playing and coaching resources (including Tommy Spinks) over the summer, and, with the apparent return of several front line players, they will offer a considerable threat at New Anniesland on 16th November. Stew Mel be warned! This league does not get any easier and the RBG will have to work hard and diligently to continue their recently improved performances.

Dumfries Saints maintained their domination of the table with success over GHK, who, despite this defeat, retain second place. Meanwhile, the RBG are seventh (albeit with a game in hand) on 23 points, four behind the Old Anniesland side. The boys are working hard and would really appreciate your support in their attempts to be part of the promotion race.

The Development Squad faced up to Boroughmuir 2nd XV. As the Meggetland conglomerate is a Super 6 franchise, their club has had to accept that, effectively, their amateur players have to step up a level. Thus they arrived at Inverleith with a mixture of young players and a few old hands. An injury in the warm-up meant that they had to face the RBG with a basic complement of 15 players.

On the International pitch, the RBG, with a balance of interplay between backs and forwards and pace on the wings, gave the visitors a hard time, but, true to their tradition, they never gave up and entered into the spirit of the game with great enthusiasm.

With falling playing numbers and clubs in Edinburgh competing fiercely for amateur participants, it is imperative that Stew Mel continues to develop its one club policy and attract Lions, Academy and College participants into the senior echelons of the club. In this vein, the Club Chairman was pleased to note that there was a significant number of school Former Pupils in the Development XV. That is not to say, however, that any person – no matter what their playing background – is not welcome at Inverleith. The RBG are an open and welcoming club with a real desire to do its best for members.

The College embarked on two Cup ties this week. The U16A faced Strathallan at Inverleith, and, in a scrappy match, secured a 40 point victory. Meanwhile, up in Clackmannanshire, the 1st XV survived a last minute score to win 26-21. Dollar is never an easy place to go, despite previous results, and a place in the semi-final is a just reward for their efforts.

Congratulations to the boys and their coaches for two excellent wins. The draw for the last four in both competitions is eagerly awaited. Next Saturday sees a tough run of fixtures against Watson’s and Berwickshire High School. If you are interested, the 1st XV kick-off at 10.30 at Inverleith. The Myreside boys are touted, by some, to be the top school side in Scotland this year. Do Stew Mellies need a greater challenge?

See you at Inverleith on Saturday.

Phil Waine

Down Inverleith Way 8

This was a different Saturday! The President was beaming after the game, the Stew Mel support was not required to recover from nervous exhaustion in the bar and the scoreboard blazed (long after the game – the club must learn how to switch it off!) a very pleasing result: won 43-22.

The ramifications also extended way beyond the clubhouse: the smile at the door when going home alerted the dog that all was well, and she felt safe to wag her tail! Perhaps not a solution to Brexit, but the RBG senior 1st XV had produced their best performance of the season and progressed to the next round of the Cup (the reward is a home match against either Murrayfield Wanderers or Preston Lodge). Just a pity the game had not been allowed to double as a league fixture, but the SRU has its rules!

Dumfries Saints visited Inverleith as the outstanding team in National Two, heading the league because of an impressive, and well deserved, undefeated run. Admittedly, the southern supporters were disappointed that they had produced (in their mind) a below par performance and felt that they were, perhaps, below full strength – but, make no bones, this was a stern test for the RBG and an important and deserved result.

From an Inverleith point of view it was more like the real thing and there was a sense of focused purpose during the whole game. Equally, there was a will to dominate proceedings and to play exciting rugby (but with a cognisance of propriety) plus a belief in team work. In short, many of the memories of a dark day in Prestonpans were eradicated.

It was also refreshing to have a referee who was prepared to observe the offside law. This gave the backs, on both sides, the opportunity to display attacking potential, and, perhaps for the first time this season, the Stew Mel back-line gave an insight into their full potential – and this was without the influential talents of Sean Murchie.

Talking of leading lights, it was also good to see big Ru standing on the touchline fully recovered from his hamstring injury (yes, he’s a prop!) and wearing a very natty pair of red ‘go faster’ trainers. Promises, promises, Mr. Mitchell!

Sean and Ru were only missing from the squad because of a Stew Mel misunderstanding of the rules governing the number of replacements.

It is easy to get carried away, and, as football managers are fond of saying, the Cup is important but what really matters are league points. Next week’s game against Whitecraigs is immediately paramount and any match up is a potential banana skin in National League 2. All its members have proved that they are capable of beating another team on their day. If nothing else, there is little doubt that the Dumfries & Galloway men we defeated in the Cup will want to prove that they did not hit their straps in future encounters. Every week is a serious challenge!

Due to it being a ‘Cup Saturday’, the senior Development Team did not have a fixture, and it would appear there are no East Reserve League Division 1 matches next Saturday, either. The next encounter (unless a friendly can be organised) is, therefore, 9th November, when they travel into deepest darkest Lanarkshire to play Biggar 2nd XV. This competition has been slightly skewed by clubs not being able to field a XV (fortunately not an issue for the RBG to date), but, after a couple of disappointing results, a win would be very welcome.

Two important fixtures are coming up for the College 1st XV and Under 16A XV. On Tuesday 5th November the former play Dollar Academy in Clackmannanshire while the latter meet Strathallan at Inverleith in the quarter finals of the Scottish Schools’ Cup.

So, in summary, the RBG senior 1st XV are only as good as their last game – but there is hope that they have now found the confidence to perform at a higher level week on week. There is no doubt that this will be the players’ target. Newton Mearns is less than an hour from Edinburgh – see you at Aurs Road!

Phil Waine

Match photo by Keith Ferguson

Down Inverleith Way 7

The deluge of Friday and Saturday morning created a quagmire at Inverleith and put paid to the highly anticipated visit of league leaders Dumfries Saints.

Through the vagaries of the Cup and league fixture arrangements, the Southerners are, however, due to travel to Edinburgh again on Cup duty this Saturday, and there have been suggestions that this encounter might ‘double up’ to decide the result in both competitions. This is not, however, on the cards at the time of writing – but, whatever is at stake, this is a crunch meeting for the RBG, and, hopefully, the players will be highly charged and motivated to get a positive result.

Surprisingly, there must have been an umbrella over Raeburn Place, and, within the chaos of Stockbridge’s latest building development, the pitch proved perfectly playable for the Development XV to match up against Edinburgh Accies 2nd XV in East Reserve League Division 1.

This was a highly entertaining and exciting 80 minutes with both sides producing some excellent rugby. The lead changed hands several times before two late breakaway converted tries saw the Academical Football Club home by 41-25.

There is no denying the Accies five points and they had some old hands (at least one with Premiership experience) to steady the ship, but the frustrating thing from a Stew Mel point of view was that this could – and perhaps should – have been a victory. Overall, we looked a more enterprising side – obviously this is a slightly biased opinion! – and appeared the more likely to score. We, perhaps, lacked a little ‘killer instinct’ when it really mattered.

Rugby is a balance between enjoyment, participation, good fellowship and winning if possible, and, sometimes, it appears from the touchline that RBG sides underestimate the importance of the latter. A little belief in one’s ability goes a long way. That ability exists throughout the club is not really in question.

No College rugby this week as the October holiday rolls on but Saturday 2nd November sees fixtures against Robert Gordon’s and Dundee while Tuesday 5th November sees Cup Quarter Finals for the 1st XV (Dollar Academy – away) and the U16A XV (Strathallan – home).

See you at Inverleith.

Phil Waine

Match photo c/o OGBlakeman Photography

Down Inverleith Way 6

It could have been – if Mike Miller had managed to hold onto his intercept attempt – a try under the posts, a conversion and a five league point victory for the Senior 1st XV. Should it have been? In a word, No!

A 25 – 19 loss produced only one bonus point for the league table, and the 19 points that we racked up during the game included two rather fortuitous tries (although both were well taken).

After the heroics of the previous week, the RBG produced a strangely listless performance against Preston Lodge down in the ‘Pans’ and even the most rabid of supporters would have difficulty in saying that the East Lothian men didn’t deserve the win and their elevation above us in National 2.

It is sometimes difficult to catch the mood of a game from the touchline but Stew Mel seemed somewhat distracted by the motivated and extremely loud-decibel approach of their opponents (a timely reminder of how everybody ‘out of town’ wants to beat the ‘city slickers’). We were strangely off the pace and, although the defence collectively was generally solid, too many first time tackles were only half completed, which allowed PL to play off the front foot – as Scotland found out against Japan, it is a strenuous task to defend for long periods of time!

The backs also had a torrid time in attack, trying to negotiate the problem of playing with non-observation of the off-side law and the impact that that has in closing down available space. Goodness knows, the RBG already give away enough penalties, but, perhaps, this is an art that needs to be practised to meet the opposition on equal terms — or the laws need to be more stringently applied. The back foot seems to be as mythical as a Unicorn! In the spirit of rugby, however, a more positive approach would be to work out strategies to overcome this problem which is blighting the whole game.

It is only too easy to be critical from the stand and nobody will be hurting more than the players. The ideal opportunity for redemption comes next Saturday when the unbeaten league leaders, Dumfries Saints, visit Inverleith – our chance to produce an upset! Your support in this mission would be greatly appreciated.

The mood was not lightened when the news filtered through that the Development XV had lost to Selkirk by 7-22. A game they might have expected to win. Next week they play Edinburgh Accies, also at Inverleith. So that is two games to whet your appetite!

No College rugby to report on this week as it is the October holiday. If, however, you are interested in the school rugby scene, there was one result of particular note, with Glasgow High School defeating Merchiston in the third round of the U18 Cup.

The draw for the quarter finals is:

Watson’s v Strathallan

Dollar v Stewart’s Melville

Glasgow H S v Marr College

Edinburgh Accies v Fettes

The draw for the U16 quarter final is:

Dunbar G.S. or Dollar v Fettes

Edinburgh Accies v Merchiston

Stewart’s Melville v Strathallan

St. Aloysius v Watson’s

Here’s hoping for a happier demeanour at 4.30 next Saturday!

Phil Waine

Are YOU a Club 100 Winner?

Club 100 has been now been drawn and the results for each of the months are noted below!  If you are a lucky winner please make contact via email 100club@stewmelrugby.com to claim your prize

June and December have a prize of £500 each – all the other months are £100.

2018

October |   E Cunningham
November |  J Campbell
December |  E Cartwright

2019

January |   GG Walker
February |   KJ Harvey
March |   Cairns Langlands 
April |   TW Manson
May |  J Hobbis
June |   K Dobson
July |    DJ Grant
August |  AM Addison
September |  J Crispin

Down Inverleith Way 5

Another relaxing Saturday afternoon on the touchline at Inverleith! Eventually, a win for the Senior 1st XV – but not before the faithful had been put through the mincer and spat out several times.

It all started so well – apart from Connor McKay having to leave the field in the opening minutes injured (his mother and father displayed precious little sympathy) – and pressure was rewarded with an early try and conversion. Hopes were high but, all too soon, the self destruct button was pushed as a loose pass allowed Peebles a 70 metre interception goal. The Borderers were back in the game and a pattern was established – the RBG mounting considerable pressure only to let the Gytes men off the hook by errors in handling turning over possession. Another goal was given away and only a penalty by “Happy” made the score close (10-14) at half-time.

The second half started in similar fashion but, eventually, Stew-Mel made their pressure tell and scored more 3 tries to procure the first bonus point of the campaign. The last 20 minutes, despite the inclement weather, were the best of the season so far as the players showed real mettle and not a little grit and determination to get all five points. If handling errors and faulty ball retention can be corrected then the prognosis looks healthy, although a visit to Prestonpans (one we will make next Saturday) is always fraught with danger!

Kevin Murchie will give an excellent review of the game, but Ruaridh Mitchell’s vital try deserves a special mention. It is no mean feat for a prop to display a side-step, swerve and hand-off in a 2 metre dash for the line! So a tense spell for spectators but an enjoyable weekend looking at our elevated 4th position in National 2.

A special word for referee La Toya Mason, who travelled all the way from Yorkshire to take charge of the game. She controlled proceedings with authority and no little humour. One instruction to the forwards at a line-out not to “take the p*ss“, at one and the same time, brought control to the situation — and a number of chuckles! Not her fault (especially without assistant referees), but how is the off-side line law to be administered? This problem stifled much attacking intent during proceedings on Saturday.

The Development XV travelled to Mansfield Park, always a difficult place to play, but, despite losing, came away with a creditable 27-19 loss. They look to get back on the horse next week when they again take on Border opposition, this time Selkirk at Inverleith.

The Super 6 squads were announced this week and there are a number of Stew Mel players sprinkled amongst the franchises.

Ayr: Ross Thomson

Boroughmuir: Ewan Stewart

Heriot’s: Scott Riddell and Jack Blain

Watsonians: Connor Boyle, Jamie Hodgson and Finn Hobbis

You might also have noticed that two RBG players were turning out for English Premiership clubs on Saturday – Callum Hunter-Hill for Saracens and Isaac Miller for Worcester. Also well done to Andrew Kelly who has just been appointed to the Nails franchise as head coach. Last heard his father was seeking asylum in Bolivia!

Talking of Heriot’s, the College teams faced them in the conference last Saturday and came away with a clean sweep. The 1st XV gave a slightly stuttering performance, and, although the winning score of 38-12 was well deserved, it was also slightly flattering. The U16A XV also conjured up a notable result against a very strong Heriot’s squad. This rivalry no doubt has a long way to run during the course of the season!

The above two teams also progressed through round 3 of the cup, the 1st XV winning at Glenalmond by 7-35 whilst the U16’s travelled to Cupar and came through against Bell Baxter by 7-40.

Lastly, when talking about matches against old rivals Merchiston, it is always enjoyable to admit a mistake when it goes your way. The College 2nd XV won 19-14 rather than losing!

See you at Prestonpans or Inverleith on Saturday?

Phil Waine

Match Report v Peebles RFC | Saturday 5th October

There were a few changes to last week’s travelling band, with (due to injuries and/or availability) Chris Baikie (head), Scott Murchie (knee), Scott Alldritt (Japan) and Geoff Angco (Marathon) all out. The previously hamstrung duo of Matthew Watson and Ruaridh Mitchell, now recovered, were back at numbers 15 and 3, respectively, while Happy slotted in at 12, James Ferguson reverted to his familiar position on the left wing and Dave Allan completed the forward line up at Number 8.

There were a few changes on the bench, too, with Neil Bowie making a welcome return – apparently it’s not 8 years since he has played but he has played for Stewart’s Melville for 8 years (that is serious dedication -well done!) – and Tom Petiau and Ben Dollery making up the forward replacements.

Peebles kicked off towards the Ferry Road end on a damp afternoon; the ball, was, however well taken by Stewart’s Melville and James Ferguson was immediately off, offloading to Dave Allan who found Happy. His kick through pushed Peebles back although they did manage to hold on to possession.

Unfortunately in the early stages play was stopped due to a head injury to Connor Mackay, bringing his afternoon to a premature end, and Tom Petiau’s to an early start (we wish Connor well and a speedy recovery). Great work by the pack at the first scrum of the afternoon saw Stewart’s Melville regaining possession and the opportunity to attack, Happy again involved with good hands from Michael Miller and Joe Bailey keeping up the momentum. Peebles defended well, however, winning a scrum and managing to clear their lines. The tables were then turned once more as Stewart’s Melville won the line out, Momo leading the charge from 10m out. A penalty in Stewart’s Melville’s favour, a line out and a drive from 5m out saw Doug Randall in for the first try of the afternoon, to the delight of not only the Stewart’s Melville faithful but also that of his travelling support from Portsmouth – the journey was worthwhile, after all! Happy added the extras, and, with ten minutes played, it was Stewart’s Melville 7 Peebles 0.

At the restart Matt Sanderson gathered well, allowing Jamie Sword to progress, and, with good hands from Sean, Momo and Happy, some width was exploited. A kick through by Fraser Strachan then forced Peebles on to the back foot once more, and, in an attempt to move the ball, their pass was adjudged to be forward. Another good scrum, good hands and more pressure resulted in a penalty and a line out 5m out, but, unfortunately, this time, despite being so close, we could not capitalise and a penalty in Peebles’ favour gave them a ‘get out of jail’ card.

Peebles then enjoyed some possession and attempted to kick downfield for territory but the ball was well retrieved by Matthew, and, thereafter, Jamie McGurk breaking through, but the slippery ball was lost. Stewart’s Melville were soon back in the ascendancy and it was one way traffic with around 20 minutes played, with the pressure resulting in a kickable penalty. With only one converted try at this stage, the opportunity to get three points was a no brainer for Happy. Stewart’s Melville 10 – Peebles 0.

The movement of the ball between both forwards and backs was impressive at this stage, but, maybe, a little too ambitious, as, against the run of play, the opportunity for an interception came, giving Peebles their first points. 25 minutes played, Stewart’s Melville 10 – Peebles 7. Though Stewart’s Melville continued their dominance and were definitely playing all the rugby, Peebles had their tails up after scoring and were starting to gain more possession and territory, a well executed kick bobbling into touch 5m from the Stewart’s Melville try line. It was then Peebles’ turn to apply the pressure, and, although Stewart’s Melville did receive some respite, with a penalty coming their way, this was short lived as Peebles attacked once more, utilising the width of the pitch. Some uncharacteristically poor defending then allowed them in for a well deserved try which was duly converted.

With around 35 minutes on the clock the scoreline was Stewart’s Melville 10 – Peebles 14, and thanks to a solid defensive effort in the last 5 minutes, the half time score remained the same.

Stewart’s Melville got the second half underway and further pressure from Peebles led to a penalty and an easy 3 points around the 50 minute mark. Stewart’s Melville 10 – Peebles 17. There was more of a balance in play at this stage, in terms of possession, and there appeared to be a degree of panic on both sides, particularly from Stewart’s Melville who found themselves chasing the game despite their early dominance. Patience is a virtue, though, and its reward seemed to be coming as Stewart’s Melville attacked from 10m out – only to be met by a solid Peebles response that saw the visitors clear the danger back to the half way line.

At this point Neil Bowie entered the fray and added what was needed in the midfield, helping us to gain some important territorial advantage and the opportunity to attack once more, with Joe Bailey enjoying a trenchant run up the stand side. This resulted in more pressure on the Peebles line, and, although possession was lost, it was eventually regained for a sustained period, giving Fraser Strachan the chance to nip over for the try, which, although long in coming, was most welcome. Unfortunately the additional 2 points were not added. 65 minutes played, Stewart’s Melville 15 – Peebles 17.

There was now a visible but controlled urgency in the way that Stewart’s Melville were playing as they applied more pressure, and, eventually Ruaridh Mitchell powered his way over. The electronic score board, batteries now recharged, indicated 70 minutes and the score line Stewart’s Melville 22 – Peebles 17. With a tense 10 minutes left, tempers were somewhat frayed and an altercation saw the first yellow cards being produced, the recipients on both sides. Losing Joe at any time is a major loss but at least it was 14 vs 14. The moral of the story is, however, ‘don’t mess with Joe Bailey!’

As Stewart’s Melville continued to apply pressure, we were awarded a penalty that was clearly kickable. The more conservative among us would have taken the 3 points, however, with the dominance being displayed at this point, the right decision was to go for the fourth try and the bonus point and it came courtesy of James Ferguson, coming off his left wing and bursting through. Final score: Stewart’s Melville 27 – Peebles 17.

It was a real competitive game of rugby, and, above all, it tested the character of the home team, which was more evident that I have witnessed for some time. Apart from the ‘lull’ towards the end of the first half and a period in the second, it was all hands to the pump and the team effort was exemplary. A special mention to the forwards in the set piece and the loose, the icing on the cake being Jamie Sword in the line out. A great performance from 1 – 8!

Given the conditions, the handling was surprisingly good from both sides, which made for an exciting contest. It was probably the best start I have seen from Stewart’s Melville this season and the confidence from this win should bode well going forward. It is an interesting league, as shown by recent score lines. We must, however, just focus on what we can do, and, most importantly, what we are capable of doing. We are a bit like the Irish team at the World Cup – not quite fully gelling but giving a preview of what might possibly be, given that they were dubbed the ‘World’s Number One’ prior to the competition!

Peebles must have reflected on the game on their short trip home. It must be disheartening, after a match like that, to leave with nothing, particularly when it’s felt that they deserved something – but we know exactly how that feels! Onwards and upwards, Preston Lodge away next Saturday. Another hard shift!

Kevin Murchie

Down Inverleith Way 4

MEET THE SENIOR 2ND XV (Sorry – DEVELOPMENT XV!)

On a glorious sunny afternoon, and with the 1st XV undertaking the arduous journey to Newton Stewart (based in Wigtown, an even longer journey!), the 2nd XV took centre stage on Pitch 1. They entertained Currie, and, in a spectacular festival of running rugby, emerged as victors by 49 -24. The men from Balerno have encountered a propping crisis and the advent of uncontested scrums meant that there was more energy for both sides to indulge in some adventurous handling. The visitors scored the first and last tries, but, in between, the RBG were generally in control. Nevertheless, they were never able to relax and the fact that both teams scored try bonus points is indicative of the enterprise that was on display.

It is early days, but there is encouragement from being at the right end of the league table, and it is heartening that there are obviously players capable of challenging for places in the 1st XV. When the news filtered through from Bladnoch Park that the Senior 1st XV had ground out a 12-0 win, the mood in the clubhouse was in stark contrast to the “doom and gloom” of the previous week.

The 12 hour door to door trip to Wigtown was somewhat of a challenge. The saving grace for our travelling Vice-President was that the two closest buildings to the pitch were the Bladnoch Inn and the Bladnoch Distillery – in his words, close to heaven! Gordonians (from Aberdeen), and, indeed, Newton Stewart in reverse are going to find the distances a challenge, and all power to the their arm and enthusiasm for being willing to invest the time in pursuit of league rugby. The club looks forward to welcoming both at Inverleith!

As to the game itself, the RBG pack were generally in the ascendancy with the backs providing an impenetrable defensive wall. A general feeling was that a try bonus point should have been possible but that a trip to Dumfries and Galloway (Newton Stewart and Dumfries Saints) is going to be a test for any team. Two points of particular interest were that Stew Mel had a Murchie on either wing (Sean joined by younger brother Scott) whilst, in the middle of the pitch, both teams missed a kick from in front of the posts! Watch out for Kevin Murchie’s match report. A warning – nobody has to mention to President Breeze that the home team filmed the match from a drone hovering above the pitch – he’ll just want one in RBG colours!

With this result the RBG have moved up one place to 7th in the table. It is perhaps interesting to note that the 3 teams directly above (including Newton Stewart) have not won as many games but have accrued points through the try bonus system. Next week would be a good time for clicking into attacking gear especially as the opponents, Peebles, are riding high with 4 wins out of 4 (Inverleith, 3 pm kick-off). The 2nd XV also have a stern challenge as they are scheduled to meet Hawick Force at Mansfield Park.

Edinburgh Headway Group aims to empower and enrich the lives of adults who have survived an acquired brain injury. They do this by providing high quality person-centred rehabilitation services which supports both adults with brain injuries and their carers.

After the Rugby World Cup Lunch at Prestonfield House, Stewart’s Melville RFC is proud to donate £16,850 to help them to continue their superb work at Craigmillar.

The older College teams had disappointing results against Merchiston. The 1st XV managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. A deserved win was foiled when poor game management saw them concede a penalty in front of the posts, and a gleeful visiting kicker could hardly believe his luck as he slotted the award for a final 14-15 scoreline. The 2nd XV and U16A teams disappointingly lost equally narrowly by 14-19 and 7-12, but, to redress the balance, there were wins at U16B, U14 A & B and U13 & B with the U15 game ending in a 14-14 draw. All the results were very close and there was some great rugby on show from both schools.

Next week George Heriot’s provide the opposition. Time to go but look at these happy RBG supporters. Why not come and join Bob and Bobby on the touchline on Saturday?

Phil Waine

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