Match Report v Preston Lodge RFC | Saturday 12 January

A good New Year and all the best for 2019 to all our readers.  Given the location of the first encounter of 2019, I think it would be remiss of me not to continue my previous Jacobite theme, obviously in the hope that the results initially at Highland but, more importantly, at Falkirk were re-enacted at the Pans, where, in 1745, there was unquestionably a significant victory for Charlie’s troops!  With that in mind, and following the unwrapping of that ‘present’ that was surreptitiously shoved under the Christmas tree (reference my previous report), expectations were always going to be high on Saturday.  Thankfully, history delivered accordingly.

With Michael Miller away on his Antipodean travels, Euan Bowen was the man selected to step in and pull the strings at 10, and, bar some minor adjustments, the starting line-up had a familiar settled look.  A last minute change saw Dave Allan straight in at number 8 for the injured Denis Pech.  With a well kempt pitch, fine weather, a comfortable stand and, to trump it all, a sea view, PL kicked off inland.  Although the ball was well retrieved and sent back with interest, PL held on to possession and made significant progress, resulting in a penalty directly in front of the posts.  The three points were a formality.  Five minutes played, PL 3 – SM 0 – early days!

At the restart, the ball drifted out on PL’s 22, and, with the first lineout of the game adjudged to be squint, SM showed their strength in the scrum, quick ball out to the right allowing Freddie Roddick to cut through for the first try of the afternoon.  Happy, with his kicking boots on, added the extras.  10 minutes played, PL 3 – SM 7.

As play progressed it appeared we were back in exactly the same position, with another lineout, but, this time, despite a formidable drive by Momo, the opportunity was lost, a penalty awarded to PL allowing them to gain good field position within SM’s 22.  From the lineout, however, the SM forwards wrapped them up, drove forward, and, ultimately, won a scrum at the halfway line.  Secure ball and a good kick and we were back to that all too familiar 22 mark for the lineout.  Again, despite a period of dominance and the application of pressure, the points unfortunately didn’t come. 

The SM forwards were certainly showing their authority, although the backs were taking time to adjust, and, as a result of some uncharacteristic poor passing, PL got back into the driving seat with a scrum, penalty and territorial advantage.  They ultimately drove over the line for a simple score and a successful conversion.  25 minutes played, PL 10 – SM 7. 

Play resumed and PL were on the move again.  Once more a penalty came their way in a kickable position and they didn’t hesitate to grab the three points on offer:  35 minutes in, PL 13 – SM 7.  Fortunes were soon reversed, however, as the first yellow card of the afternoon was shown to a PL forward, and, with the one man advantage, it wasn’t long before James Ferguson was through for SM’s second try, Happy again converting. PL 13 – SM 14.

As the end of the first half approached there was still plenty of time for more action from both sides, a penalty to PL increasing their tally to 16 and a yellow card coming SM’s way.  Our forwards and backs then combined well, with Dave Allan breaking through and finding Fraser Strachan with his orange boots in full flow for the try. Happy’s conversion made it PL 16 – SM 24 at the break.

We had just about recovered from what had been quite a frantic and exciting first half as SM got the second half underway, floodlights now on full beam.  A scrum within PL’s 22 and quick ball ended with PL deciding to kick long; this was, however, well fielded and Freddie returned the compliment downfield.  A penalty then came SM’s way, Happy adding the three points after 55 minutes of play: PL 16 – SM 27.

A period of intense and constant pressure from PL ensued but the resolute SM defence kept them at bay as scrum after penalty after scrum came PL’s way for at least 15 minutes, possibly more.  It wasn’t pretty but what a defensive effort from SM.  Having survived the onslaught and allowed the SM supporters to breathe once more, the game then became a more balanced affair, gritty and competitive at times, with SM’s game management, I think, showing signs of maturity (penalties aside!)

Both teams were restored to 15, for a period anyway, and, against the run of play, a kick was charged down, giving PL an edge as they attacked once more with a penalty, scrum and lineout.  This time their pressure resulted in a try, although the conversion was unsuccessful. Around 70 minutes played, PL 21 – SM 27.

As the game reached its final stages the majority of play was in PL’s 22, and, although the bonus point try eluded SM, they made sure they secured the win despite proceedings heating up a little amongst the players during the latter stages (with some added audience participation!)  The final whistle thankfully came soon after.  PL 21 – SM 27 (and not as stated on the SRU website).

A good start to 2019,  and a hard, competitive game at that.  I am not sure if Momo knew the ref but he certainly spent a good bit of time ‘catching up’ with him on Saturday afternoon.  Good teams play on the edge, interpreting the laws accordingly.  To be fair, the ref was consistent with his interpretation as both sides succumbed to officialdom.  The first half was not untypical of a number of our games this season, with the lead changing hands several times, but the second half was quite superlative in terms of the defensive effort.  This must have given our players a great deal of confidence and everyone played their part accordingly, showing immense character to a man.

The pack put in an extraordinary shift and I could namecheck all 8 for their contribution, both in attack and (particularly) in defence, which gave the backs the platform to deliver three good tries (and it could be argued that it should have been more).  That said, PL also had their opportunities.  Whilst a great team effort, I think James deserves a special mention for his attack, his defence and, dare I say it, his kicking.  I am sure you will agree that he is a really nice guy, but it was good to see his competitive nature emerging on the ‘battlefield’ at the Pans!

A few things to work on before showcasing any flair next week against what I think will be a much improved GHK, who ran Dumfries very close on Saturday.  See you then.

Kevin Murchie

Match photo c/o Libby @ OG Blakeman Photos

Next Match | 19 January v GHK @ Inverleith | KO 2pm

1st XV play HOME v GHK – kick off 2pm

2nd XV play HOME v Currie Chieftains – kick off 2pm

Ferry Road Wanderers play ‘HOME’ at Goldenacre – kick off 2pm

Lindsey Geddes

Team v Preston Lodge RFC | Saturday 12 January @ Pennypit | Kick off 3pm

15. Freddie Roddick
14. Sean Murchie
13. James Fergusson
12. Euan Morrison
11. Matthew Watson
10. Euan Bowen
1. Connor McKay
2. Doug Randall
3. Ruaridh Mitichell
4. Fraser Morrison
5. Alex Rappestad
6. Willie Malcolm
7. Joe Bailey
8. Denis Pech
9. Fraser Strachan

Replacements

16. Chris Baikie
17. Matt Sanderson
18. Dave Allan
19. Dave Hampton 

Team v Kelso RFC | Saturday 12 January @ Poynder Park | Kick off 2pm

15. Craig Lamb
14. Alan Beveridge

13. Geoff Angco
12. Jack Calder
11. Craig Davidson
10. Seb Trotter
1. Oli Williamson
2. Stephen Spowart
3. Kyle Marshall
4. Ally Scott
5. Gareth Henderson
6. Nick Winton
7. Alex Wainright
8. Dave Devlin
9. Chris Beattie

Replacements
16.David Calder
17. Daniel Sweeney   

Ian Kinghorn

The Committee and members of the Rugby Club are saddened to hear of the death of Ian Kinghorn, a founder member of the Lunch Club, who died peacefully on 29 December 2018.

Ian’s funeral will be held at Livingston Crematorium on Saturday 12 January at 10 am.  All friends respectively invited.

Bill McNie

Match Report v Lasswade RFC | Saturday 15 December

As we huddled together like penguins on an Antarctic landscape, enduring the coldest day I’ve experienced at Inverleith in decades, we were treated to an exemplary performance on the pitch.  Despite the weather, the ‘warmth’ emanated upwards into the stand (or so it seemed), to the delight of the hardy home support.

As the teams emerged, and once we were able to focus on who was who, Stew Mel kicked off, playing towards Ferry Road with the wind at their backs.  The first lineout was adjudged to be squint but a good drive from the pack earned a penalty and an accurate touch finder from Michael Miller.  This time a clean lineout and Momo broke through to score with just under 5 minutes played. Happy added the extras.  Stew Mel 7 Lasswade 0.  An encouraging start.

As play resumed, a penalty for not releasing allowed Lasswade some territory, but possession was soon lost.  Chris Baikie then took off on one of his trademark runs but, unfortunately, found himself isolated, conceding a penalty.  Another lineout followed and Stew Mel managed to steal the ball; Freddie Roddick then took the initiative and moved the ball wide, but further progress was halted by another penalty.  Eventually one did come our way due to a high tackle, with the resulting touch finder being more than a little wind assisted.  The resulting scrum saw an impressive drive by the Stew Mel forwards, with a penalty and more possession coming their way.  It was Doug Randall this time with a powerful, evasive run in from the 22, making it Stew Mel 12 Lasswade 0 with 17 minutes played.

Lasswade were seeing less of the ball but they still were trying to launch attacks into Stew Mel’s half, and, with a number of penalties coming their way, they did make some progress, though their hands did fail them at times.  With the penalty count mounting against Stew Mel, a yellow card was not long in coming, the recipient being talisman Michael Miller.  With the one man advantage and after an uncharacteristic Stew Mel mistake in midfield – and despite Willie Malcolm almost singlehandedly holding up the Lasswade forwards – the opportunity was seized by the visitors’ number 13, David Hall, who scored under the posts.  The easy conversion made the score Stew Mel 12 Lasswade 7 with 25 minutes on the clock.

At the restart there was another good break by Lasswade but this was eventually halted.  Possession was then won back due to a knock on and Doug was off again, with the ball eventually finding Freddie who cruised over for a great team try.  30 minutes gone, Stew Mel 19 Lasswade 7.  The kick at the restart didn’t quite have the legs against the wind and James Ferguson was the next to step up and show his ability and his strength, making further progress into Lasswade’s 22.  It didn’t seem long before Michael returned, and, around the same time, James continued where he had left off for another try.  35 minutes gone, Stew Mel 24 Lasswade 7.

As half time approached there was still time for more, and, after a period of forward domination, Ruaridh Mitchell powered over.  Half time Stew Mel 31 Lasswade 7.

With a healthy lead established, the challenge in the second half was going to be that we would be playing into the wind and, therefore, dealing with the increase in pressure from the opposition that that would likely bring.  It was, however, entirely up to Lasswade to exert that pressure – and, right from the restart, it was evident that Stew Mel were determined to win, to retain possession and to stamp out any resurgence that might occur.

Connor McKay had entered the fray by this stage and the ‘Galloway Bull’ (NB moniker has required parental clearance) made his presence known, contributing to the next try which saw number 8 Denis Pech driving over.  45 minutes in, Stew Mel 36 Lasswade 7. 

The screw was beginning to turn as Stew Mel again applied more pressure, and, after some last ditch defending by Lasswade, quick ball wide to Sean Murchie, our number 14, ensured the next try.  50 minutes gone, Stew Mel 41 Lasswade 7.  Stew Mel once again collected well at the restart, and, with Lasswade under further pressure, mistakes were inevitably being made and the scrums were only going one way as Stew Mel continued to bulldoze their way into Lasswade’s half.

After we were awarded a scrum 5 metres out, the next score wasn’t long in coming, Freddie in for his second.  That made it Stew Mel 46 Lasswade 7 with around 65 minutes played.  It was one way traffic at this stage, with Thor charging up the middle of the park, and quick ball through the backs and some exceptionally good handling led to another try by number 14.  The successful conversion brought the score, with 70 minutes played, to Stew Mel 53 Lasswade 7.

Another restart, another lineout and scrum with Stew Mel again retaining the ball … and another score, this time by ‘Man of the Match’ Fraser Strachan.  Stew Mel 58 Lasswade 7.  Lasswade managed to gain some territory thereafter but a loose ball was soon picked up by sub Matt Sanderson, who broke downfield at pace but couldn’t quite find the support.  In the dying moments another yellow card was shown but the game was all but over at this stage.  Final score Stew Mel 58 Lasswade 7.

The failing light, the clash of strips and my failing eyesight made identification in the last 20 minutes a challenge.  There was only one team in control by that stage, though, which made it slightly easier.  Whilst my sequence of events and player references may not be totally accurate, the facts remain: 10 tries and 4 conversions.  Not a bad way to finish 2018!  Whilst Stew Mel were worthy winners, this was a fine display of running rugby in poor conditions, both teams focussed on playing a fast paced game.

As I thawed out in the clubhouse, reflecting on the game, I thought it was one of our best performances of the season – and, if the penalty count and yellow cards were taken out of the equation, probably the best, epitomised by Fraser Strachan’s inspired ‘pass through the legs’.  A great team effort – well done.

Wrap this one up, shove it under the tree and don’t unwrap it until 3 pm on Saturday 12 January 2019 under the floodlights at Pennypit Park.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all.

Kevin Murchie

Match photo c/o Jackie MacKenzie

Team to play Lasswade RFC | Saturday 15 December @ Inverleith | KO 2pm

Stewart’s Melville RFC
Player Sponsored By
15 Freddie Roddick
Glencairn Properties
14 Sean Murchie
Graham + Sibbald
13 James Ferguson
Haldane UK Ltd
12 Euan Morrison
The Wee Restaurant
11 Dave Allan
Bill McNie
10 Michael Miller
Calder Family
9 Fraser Strachan
Jamie Frost
1 Chris Baikie
Dreadnought Leith
2 Doug Randall
Barbershop Edinburgh
3 Ruaridh Mitchell
Craneware
4 Jamie Sword
Gav Maclean
5 Fraser Morrison
Hamilton Waste
6 Willie Malcolm
Parker Pest Control
7 Alex Wainwright
Keith Dobson
8 Denis Pech
CapitalVolt Electrical Services Replacements
16 Kyle Marshall
Findlay & Marshall Ltd
17 Connor McKay
Parkthorn Gates
18 Matt Sanderson
Cello Signal
19 Alex Rappestad
Euan Simpson

Head Coach Nick McCashin
Team Manager Andrew Manson

Photograph courtesy of OG Blakeman Photos

Match Report v Glasgow Academicals | Saturday 8 December @ New Anniesland

 

A number of changes from the previous encounter back in September. This time around, for the return leg, there were one or two adjustments in the back line, with previous Man of the Match Fraser Strachan returning at scrum half and a late change to the published team due to the late withdrawal of Dave Hampton. Dave’s absence led to James moving back to number 13 and the introduction of Craig Davidson on the left wing. Freddie Roddick was also into provide the last line of defence at full back.

In the pack, the only significant changes were in the back row, where Joe Bailey came in at 6 and Denis Pech, the driving force, at 8.

I had previously expressed some surprise at Accies’ position in the league and this was expected to be a hard game. Although we had won the corresponding fixture at Inverleith by 40 points to 15, we had only really pulled away in the second half. Our form on the road has been reasonable thus far, but, if I was a gambling man, this is not one that I would have bet my shirt on. There were too many factors – the weather, home advantage, players’ availability and possibly even Brexit – that combined to shroud this game with a degree of uncertainty. This, of course, adds to the excitement, and I was certainly hoping for a good result – and, of course, a performance which would provide a fitting send off for Cash.

As I took my seat in the stand alongside my brother in law Rory (he made it this time), a former Glasgow Accies stalwart and son of former Scotland and British & Irish Lion Lawrie, he was full of optimism from an Accies perspective. Rather than tempt fate, I was tight lipped.

Stew Mel commenced proceedings in front of the ageing stand, the pitch impeccable despite the inclement weather. The ball was well collected by Accies who cleared for the first lineout at around the half way line. An attempt to kick downfield was, however, charged down, giving Accies possession, but a penalty was subsequently awarded in Stew Mel’s favour. A good kick by Michael Miller gained some territory but Accies managed to steal the ball at the lineout and, again, kicked for touch, resulting in another lineout. It wasn’t the tidiest but nevertheless possession was retained, and, after another touch finder, this time it was Stew Mel’s turn to win the ball back, enabling James Ferguson and Kyle Marshall to punch holes in the Accies defence.

In the early exchanges Stew Mel generally appeared to have the upper hand, pushing Accies well into their own 22. Sustained pressure eventually led to us being awarded an eminently kickable penalty; Happy slotted it home to make the score Accies 0 Stew Mel 3 with 10 minutes gone. Another long kick off by Accies and a clearance kick by Stew Mel resulted in a lineout around the halfway line which Stew Mel again managed to win. We were still very much in the ascendancy, and, with knock on’s from both sides, we were starting to enjoy a degree of dominance at the resulting scrums, Accies frequently finding themselves on the back foot and having to opt for safety by kicking for touch.

The Stew Mel lineout was also functioning reasonably well, giving the back line attacking opportunities. Firstly James and then Freddie Roddick came at pace and waltzed through a dishevelled Accies defence for the first try (long overdue) of the afternoon. The conversion was, however, unsuccessful, as Happy’s tee did not appear to be playing ball. 25 minutes played, Accies 0 Stew Mel 8.

After the restart the lineouts and scrums took on a familiar pattern, with Stew Mel again enjoying the upper hand in both. More quick ball and width gave Freddie another opportunity as he took off on a

‘Hoggy’ type break, eventually being wrapped up by some desperate Accies defence. A knock-on gave Accies some respite, but this was short lived as Stew Mel applied more pressure, driving Accies back into their own half with some good penetration on the right. This was followed by quick ball wide to the left and our second try eventually came care of newcomer Craig Davidson. This was clearly the result of some good, basic rugby, involving the width of the park, good running lines, good hands and simple passes for one side to the other. 35 minutes played, Accies 0 Stew Mel 13.

As the first half was coming to an end the rain, temporarily abated, returned and both sides began an aerial bombardment, with Accies having the rare opportunity of an excursion into Stew Mel’s 22. This was, again, short lived as a massive boot downfield put them back into their own 22. Accies did, however, launch an attack from deep and managed to get themselves into a reasonable position; they were then awarded a penalty which may have been kickable if your name was Greg Laidlaw … the failed attempt was as inevitable as the half time whistle. Accies 0 Stew Mel 13.

After a dominant first half, what could the second half bring? Quite a lot, actually! The penalty count – not in our favour, I hasten to add – was mounting and the passages of play were turgid. From the restart, despite some good carries, the slippery ball was playing havoc and adding to the aforementioned penalty count. Accies were also pushing forward, making it particularly difficult for Stew Mel to get out of their own 22. The somewhat partisan crowd had now found their voice and were pushing their team on. The Accies players responded accordingly – and it also seemed that the crowd were also inadvertently putting a little bit of pressure on the referee, who appeared to be quivering in his muddy boots!

After retaining the ball from a clearance and in a good attacking position with numbers out wide, Accies opted to kick well into Stew Mel’s 22. Freddie, however, plucked the ball out of the dark sky and sent it back. After a number of penalties, scrums and driving mauls Accies were encroaching on the Stew Mel line, but, rather like the Biggar game the week before, Stew Mel stood firm for a significant period. We eventually managed to progress towards the halfway line with some good carries from Joe Bailey, Happy and Connor. Accies continued to attack, though, desperate to get some points on the board, and, to their credit, their game plan seemed to be working.

The fresh legs of Chris Baikie, Willie Malcolm and Matt Sanderson entered the fray at this point, adding to the already robust defence. Play continued to follow a now familiar pattern, with forwards battling it out, kicks that weren’t finding touch, penalties … and then the inevitable yellow card. This was shown, somewhat harshly, to our number 8 Denis Pech and, unfortunately ended his illustrious afternoon. It was no coincidence that the elusive try came Accies way soon afterwards, the missed conversion leaving the score at Accies 5 Stew Mel 13 with around 70 minutes played.

With only a short period remaining and another penalty award to Accies, the decision was taken to grab the 3 points on offer and come away with at least a losing bonus point. Final score Accies 8 Stew Mel 13.

A tough game alright, with a good first half when we should have scored more points and a second half that really tested our defence. I think we passed that test with flying colours. Overall the backs looked sharp and showed some good hands in the damp conditions. Freddie is obviously at home at Anniesland, whether it’s Old or New! James and Happy made the crucial yards and well done to debutant Craig Davidson on his try. On a day like Saturday, however, I think it has to be the forwards who deserve all the accolades, as they got down and-dirty in a fair, hard edged and competitive way. The carries by Thor, Connor and Kyle, in particular, were top drawer and Joe Bailey was immense around the park. He punches way above his weight and was well supported by Alex and Denis whilst Ruaridh and Momo steadied the ship through stormy waters. The clear outs were exemplary by all eight on the park with none of them having any comprehension of the word ‘fear’.

As the heavy pitch took its toll, Chris, Willie and Matt were essential in seeing out a well-earned victory that could easily have slipped out of their grasp. I’m sure that, despite this being a close run thing, it still made Cash’s impending long haul flight just a bit more bearable. After a touch-line altercation with my brother in law, he eventually conceded that the better team had won. I would totally agree with that in respect of the first half, whereas, as Alex’s dad commented, the second half was certainly ‘interesting’.

The final game of 2018 at home vs Lasswade on Saturday. Hopefully we can muster a large and vocal support of the magnitude that Accies appeared to have on Saturday.

Kevin Murchie

 

Photograph courtesy of OG Blakeman Photos

Team v Glasgow Academicals on Saturday 8 December @ New Anniesland is announced

Player
Sponsor

1. Connor McKay
Parkthorn Gates
2. Kyle Marshall
Findlay & Marshall Ltd
3. Ruaridh Mitchell
Craneware
4. Alex Rappestad
Euan Simpson
5. Fraser Morrison
Hamilton Waste
6. Joe Bailey
Scott Dickson
7. Alex Wainwright
Keith Dobson
8. Denis Pech
Capital Volt Electrical Services

9. Fraser Strachan
Jamie Frost
10. Michael Miller
Calder Family
11. James Ferguson
Haldane UK Ltd
12. Euan Morrison
The Wee Restaurant
13. David Hampton
Connor Malcolm
14. Sean Murchie
Graham + Sibbald
15. Freddie Roddick
Glencairn Properties

Replacements
16. Chris Baikie
Dreadnought Leith 
17. Willie Malcolm
Parker pest Control
18. Matt Sanderson
Cello Signal

Match Report v Biggar RFC | Saturday 1 December 2018 @ Inverleith

December is upon us already – although my calendar is dictated by rugby fixtures rather than the 25th. This game was possibly billed as the ‘top of the table clash’, although I thought ‘Clash of the Titans’ would have been more appropriate – sadly, from a Stew Mel point of view, it didn’t quite live up to expectations.

Biggar are, without question, a competent outfit who have flair and skill in their back line and strength and pace in their forwards. Their results speak for themselves. Top of the league and only beaten once and that was in a local derby, where, as we know, anything can happen. It would be stretching it somewhat to consider this fixture to have been a ‘local derby’ but I, amongst others, had been relishing the prospect of a rematch since our previous encounter, when we were eventually thrown onto the ropes and given a fair pounding.

There were, as always, positives from that game, as the team was still in something of a transitionary state with various combinations being tried and tested. We have come on leaps and bounds since that 32-3 drubbing on 8th September and I clearly recall Cash’s inimitable words as the dust settled after the final whistle – ‘we can do better than that at Inverleith’ – or words to that effect!

So here we were with that thought in mind and with a significant travelling support. Proceedings commenced with Stew Mel kicking off towards the castle on an overcast damp day. The starting line-up was more or less as it has been on recent Saturdays, showcasing probably the best we have – and, unlike Scotland, our strength in depth, with Charlie Simmonds starting at 9 for the unavailable Fraser Strachan.

The game started with a high tempo from both sides, although the damp conditions rather restricted the pace and sleight of hand, with knock-on’s by both sides leading to a couple of early scrums, a penalty to Biggar and a lineout at the halfway line. A further penalty gave the opposition more territory although the lineout 10 metres out resulted in a knock-on and the opportunity for Stew Mel to clear their lines. A clean lineout by Biggar led to the ball being moved quickly wide, and, with a clever grubber kick going beyond the defence, the touch down was inevitable. The successful conversion made the score Stew Mel 0 Biggar 7 with less than 10 minutes played.

As the game resumed there were further penalties, exchanges in possession and scrums during a period of scrappy, frantic loose play. Although Stew Mel were enjoying the majority of possession and were, dare I say it, slightly dominant, pressing within Biggar’s 22, we could not breach the line.

The tables then turned and Biggar attacked, gaining the upper hand after another frantic passage of play. It wasn’t long before they were over for their second try with around 25 minutes played – Stew Mel 0 Biggar 14. As the first half drew to a close, Stew Mel were again camped in the Biggar half, some good kicking from Michael Miller giving favourable field position, but there was still an inability to get over the line. A score at this time would have made all the difference, as, although Biggar were ahead by 14 points, Stew Mel were without a shadow of a doubt still in the game at this point.

As the second half got underway, the knock-on’s and scrums chopped and changed until Biggar managed to win back possession with a clever kick through resulting in a lineout 5 metres out from Stew Mel’s line. Our lineout had been functioning reasonably well up to this point but an unfortunate mistake lead to an opportunistic try for Biggar, bringing the score at around the 45 minute mark to Stew Mel 0 Biggar 19.

Around this time Thor was introduced after a bit of shuffling between the back row and second row, bringing a much needed ball carrying element into the mix in addition to his Gaelic football skills. It wasn’t long, however, before Biggar again seized the opportunity, due to a Stew Mel error, and got over for their fourth try of the afternoon. With 55 minutes played, it was Stew Mel 0 Biggar 26, and the visitors were beginning to show their superiority.

Further substitutions followed, with Freddie Roddick replacing Matthew Watson to add some spark and attacking flair, although, once again, as the slippery ball evaded the grasp of Stew Mel’s eager hands, Biggar took advantage with some quick hands of their own and a clever cross field kick by Lavery brought their fifth and final try of the afternoon. With around 70 minutes having been played, it was Stew Mel 0 Biggar 31.

With 10 minutes to go and with the remaining subs on, Stew Mel were again enjoying a reasonable spell of possession. Although we were getting closer and closer to the visitors’ line, we just couldn’t get over for at least one score which I feel we were deserving of. Final score Stew Mel 0 Biggar 31.

The harsh reality was that Biggar scored five tries and Stew Mel scored none. Two were clearly soft and as a result of our mistakes. The others were cleverly created and one in particular – after a cross field kick – would have made even Finn Russell proud.

Stew Mel, on the other hand, failed to capitalise in the first half when they clearly had the majority of possession, with a similar scenario unfolding towards the end of the second half. That’s rugby, I guess. Opportunities must be taken – but, of course, defence is equally as important as attack, and Biggar certainly showed their strength in that department. Having a 14 point advantage at half time, the second half was more of a defining period for Biggar, with their key player being the number 10, Conor Lavery, who ran proceedings most of the afternoon and was always well supported by a strong and mobile pack that gave him an enviable platform from which to launch attacks.

Regrettably Stew Mel didn’t have that luxury, although we had periods where the forwards competed well in the set piece and in loose play – but a little bit of luck was not on their side to get them over the gain line. There were some penetrating runs, particularly in the second half, from James Ferguson and Adam Greig but we still couldn’t breach that robust defence.

The negative score line, in my view, was maybe not a totally fair reflection of the game, given the possession we enjoyed, although Biggar were unquestionably the better side and deserved their victory, particularly given their second half performance which showed no weakening in the foundations laid in the first 40 minutes. They created and took their chances whilst we were not as creative, and, more significantly, didn’t take ours. They certainly put on a good show, with perhaps a little bit of unnecessary show boating in the latter stages! Sometimes seeing a game out with more conservative play is more endearing.

I do still believe that Cash’s words were correct. We can beat any team in this league at Inverleith, but, unfortunately, Saturday was not our day. I would also like to take the opportunity to wish Cash all the best on his ‘sabbatical’ – as they say, ‘Haste Ye Back’!

We’re back on the road again on Saturday against Glasgow Accies at New Anniesland. I suspect they will be tougher opponents this time around compared to our last encounter. The campaign rumbles on.

Kevin Murchie

Match photo c/o Libby @ OGBlakeman Photography

 

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