1st XV HOME v GHA RFC – Kick off 2 pm
2nd XV HOME v GHA 2XV – Kick off 2pm
If you’ve looked out of the window this morning, it will come as no surprise that all of today’s games have been called off due to the frost.
Enjoy the ‘day off’, do some Christmas shopping and we will (fingers crossed) see you at Invers next Saturday for the game against GHA.
For the non-partisan (not many of them about) this must have been an exciting game of rugby, with no clear winner until the dying moments. Unfortunately it was not Stew Mel on this occasion – but, on a positive note, we did at least leave the Borders with two points.
As noted in the match day programme: “Our visitors today are on a notable run of improved form and, despite their lowly league position, I am sure they will prove a real test. You should never underestimate Stew Mel”. Fair comment, I think, and an encouraging one at that.
On to the game. A 3 pm kick off in perfect conditions under flood lights with a few minor changes to previous weeks – but, fundamentally, the same squad. Seb Trotter was back in the mix at 12, with James at 13, and we started with the half back partnership that ended the PL Cup match.
Kelso kicked off deep into Stew Mel territory and appeared to be camped there for a significant period of time until an interception by James, who had to expend all his energy early on by running almost the length of the pitch to touch down in the corner. The attempted conversion was a hard one and didn’t quite get there. Kelso then resumed where they had left off, with the bulk of possession and territory that ultimately led to good hands and the ball out wide, which eventually paid dividends. 20 minutes in, Kelso 7 Stew Mel 5.
Stew Mel started to get more into their stride, and, more importantly out of their own 22, pushing Kelso back with some good forward play and astute kicking. With a bit more possession allowing us to work off quick ball, corresponding quick hands and a good line combined put young winger Jack Blain over at around the 25 minute mark. Gregor converted , bringing the score to Kelso 7 Stew Mel 12.
More pressure in Kelso’s 22 resulted in a kickable penalty shortly afterwards (Kelso 7 Stew Mel 15). As half time approached, Kelso again were attacking well and always looked dangerous with ball in hand, which resulted in another converted try for the hosts.
The time on the electronic scoreboard was slightly misleading (as is our own at Inverleith) as stoppage is not factored in, and there had been, during the course of the first half, a significant number of minutes when the ref’s watch had stopped due to injuries – so this half was by no means over. As half time did approach, however, Stew Mel were back in Kelso’s half and a kickable penalty came our way as a result of their Petulant Prop earning his second yellow, and, unfortunately, the end of his afternoon.
Half time Kelso 14 Stew Mel 18.
So what would the second half bring? Stew Mel kicked off into the blood red sky and were immediately put under pressure from a ‘fired up’ Kelso, eventually resulting in a scrum 5 meters out. Thankfully a subsequent penalty gave us the opportunity to clear our lines. There was at no time any obvious indication of a one man advantage as both teams won and lost possession with equal ease. Some good play by Kelso put them into the ascendancy once again at around the 50 minute mark, bringing the score to Kelso 21 Stew Mel 18.
A spell of wayward kicking followed, then a great break by scrum half Charlie Simmonds almost led to another score, although a lack of support resulted in him being isolated, with the penalty going in Kelso’s favour. With the Stew Mel lineout functioning relatively well most of the afternoon, possession was regained, and, after some good ‘Gala-esque’ forward play, Ruaridh Mitchell (apparently) claimed a score at around the 60 minute mark (Kelso 21 Stew Mel 25).
This game was far from over as Kelso continued to run everything with effect, which lead to some tense moments and another try (Kelso 28 Stew Mel 25). The immediate response from Stew Mel saw us profit from a bit of opportunism when a Kelso clearance kick was charged down, Freddie Roddick winning the race to the line with around 10 minutes to go (real time).
I am sure, at this point, that both the lads on the pitch, my fellow supporters and our coaches had the feeling that this was it and that, although a tight game, a win was in our sights. Right at the death, however Kelso came back once again and scored that crucial try, sending the Kelso faithful, understandably, into delirium.
Final score Kelso 35 Stew Mel 30. A hard one to take, I am sure – ‘gutted’ summed up the afternoon!
Prior to this game I always had the belief that the only team that could win when down to 14 men were the All Blacks. This was quickly disproved and the ‘wounded lion syndrome’ certainly kicked in for our hosts. I wouldn’t necessarily go as far as to say that Kelso deserved to win – but I would give all credit to them for the way in which they did.
The question remains: how did we lose this game? I think there were two reason. First and foremost, as alluded to, Kelso came back in the second half with great spirit and did not allow the one man advantage to work for the opposition. They have experienced players in both backs and forwards and were tactically more astute. Rugby is not just about brawn, it’s about strategy, tactics and sound game management. Perhaps a bit of the latter was lacking in the dying minutes and the uncontested scrums probably didn’t help our cause either.
We are now half way into the season and there is still so much to play for. I would also like to make special mention of the enthusiastic youngsters that are coming through and experiencing senior rugby. No better place to be blooded than the Borders! And of course, I must praise the dedication of all the players and coaches
alike. The team has certainly come on leaps and bounds since the start of the season, and I anticipate a good ‘second half’, starting with the local derby on Saturday. Regrettably I will not be there as I am attending a wedding in Aberdeen. I know where I would rather be, but, as we all know, “you can’t always get what you want”…….
The under 16 Scottish Schools Cup Final will see Stewart’s Melville meeting the old foe, Watson’s at Murrayfield on Wednesday night with a 6 p.m. kick off. Edinburgh Academy provided stiff resistance in the semi-final at Inverleith before the RBG converted pressure into points with two late tries to come home by 20-10. When the finalists met in mid September the Myreside boys came away with a victory which, in theory, makes them favourites for the title. However, since then Stew Mel have achieved nine wins in a row and are well-prepared. it promises to be an exciting occasion and your support in the stands would be greatly appreciated.
The under 18 final, between Strathallan and Glenalmond commences afterwards at 7.45 p.m.
The College 1st XV, unexpectedly, lost to Heriot’s (26-20) last Saturday and will be determined to put things right when they travel to Aberdeen to face Robert Gordon’s College this weekend.
The SM Mighty 3’s
A roller-coaster of a season continues. On the Saturday of the Australian international, the Mighty 3’s played near neighbours Inverleith at Arboretum and, in bitterly cold conditions, gained a 26-7 victory. By all accounts, everybody was glad to hear the final whistle.
Last week’s win of 67-52 needs a little explanation! Opponents Portobello/Lismore arrived with no front five and, indeed, only 7 players. In true Corinthian spirit, supremo Fin Calder lent the South Siders 4 players and an eleven-a-side epic commenced. It is possible that the indomitable British Lions Captain got his selection slightly wrong and the RBG were well behind (41-10) at half-time. With a little guidance from fellow manager and selector, Lawrence Reilly, the teams were revamped at half -time and the victory was eventually secured with two late tries. It is rumoured that the International Rugby Board are very interested in the law variations concocted for this contest and that they are being considered for the “Scottish Super Six”! Next week sees the team go “on tour” as they travel to Peebles.
The SM Senior 1st XV
Disappointment is the only word that can be used to sum up last week’s loss to Kelso (30-35). A game that should have been won and one that, hopefully, will not come back to haunt later in the season. Kelso had a man red-carded just before the interval and yet they managed to stay in the contest despite struggling at the scrum and line out. The game ebbed and flowed, but when the RBG scored in the 70th minute to go into the lead (30-28) one felt that the result should have been secured. It was not to be! The defence, which had generally been safe throughout, allowed the opposition full-back to gather a loose kick in his own half and then meander through several tackles to cross the line for the winning try. He could scarcely belief his luck! Undoubtedly, the cause was also not helped when, in the last few minutes, the game descended into uncontested scrums as the borderers ran out of front row replacements. A potent attacking weapon was neutralised when it was most needed. However, “C’est La Vie”, and all power to Kelso who played with a physical edge and kept going to the death.
Another good shift put in by the boys, but a try and losing bonus point were scant reward for their efforts. Next week brings a serious challenge as league leaders, Edinburgh Accies, are the opponents at Raeburn Place. Its a local derby, pride is at stake and a win is desperately needed! Please get down and support the RBG.
The SM Senior 2nd XV
The 2nd XV were glad to be back in action after the Autumn break as they played Musselburgh at Inverleith (won 36-10). Considering it was the first game for a while, they played with good shape, and managed to remain on the front foot for long periods of time through quick rucking and a strong scrummage. Scores came through strong driving and carrying courtesy of the forwards, and Mark Sinclair was a constant threat sniping around the fringes from scrum half. Given the amount of possession and space created it is possible the score could have been higher, but all credit to the “Honest Toun” men who kept at it right until the final whistle. Next week sees the short trip to Meggetland to play Boroughmuir.
15. Sean Murchie
(Graham + Sibbald)
14. Jack Blain
13. James Ferguson
12. Sebastian Trotter
(Trotters Family Bakers)
11. Jack Somerville
10. Gregor Porteous
9. Charlie Simmonds
1. Josh Scott
2. Ruaridh Mitchell
3. Angus Wallace
4. David Stoddart
5. Jamie Sword
6. Tom Croy
8. Adam Howie (C)
(Super Moons Lentil Puffs)
7. Nick Winton
16 Shaun Burns
(Bisset Waste Management)
17. Cameron Taylor
18. Conor Boyle
19. William Lockhart
20. Freddie Roddick
The team bus will leave Inverleith at noon on Saturday – please assemble by 11.45 am if you’d like a lift to Kelso for this vital league game. Kick off is 3 pm.
Closer to home, the 2nd XV have a friendly against Musselburgh 2s at Inverleith (2 pm) while the 3s are also at Inverleith, playing a league game against Lismore’/Portobello (2 pm).
George Turner – Internationalist
Congratulations to Stew Mellie, George Turner, who achieved his long term ambition of representing Scotland at Murrayfield when he came onto the hallowed turf as a replacement against Samoa.
A second cap duly arrived when he faced the Mighty All Blacks last Saturday and produced a sterling performance.
After representing both the College and the Senior club, the road to stardom has not always been an easy one for George (he even had to play for the Nails for a while!), and his selection is a tribute to his dedication and determination to make the grade. His move to Glasgow Warriors this season seems to have been the required catalyst and we trust that he will go on to win more deserved honours in the future.
It was also excellent to see his achievements being recognised and celebrated by his alma mater as he was invited to address the boys at a recent assembly.
Here he is seen flanked by school captain, Forbes Jackson (left), and school rugby captain, Connor Boyle.
The College 1st XV, after the disappointment of a cup exit, returned to Conference action on Saturday 11th November at Newfield to face old friends and rivals, Edinburgh Academy. Against a well-drilled and highly committed side, they struggled to impose their will on proceedings and defended a narrow lead for most of the second half. Eventually, they managed to break the shackles to score a late try and come away with a hard-earned 22-13 victory. Last Saturday, they travelled (minus Connor Boyle and Jack Blain who in an agreement with the SRU had been released to the senior 1st XV) to play Glasgow High School and came away with a 61-12 win. Next week sees a return visit to the West when they are entertained by Glasgow Academy.
In hindsight, the Conference set up has not been particularly kind to the College Reserve sides. They are often pitted against higher teams from other establishments – for example, the 3rd’s had to play the 2nd XV of Edinburgh Academy and the 2nd’s had to play the 1st XV of Preston Lodge High School (an outfit who gave the 1st XV an extremely tough workout in the cup). This has led to some teams having a difficult time so far. Maybe something to be looked at for next season?
Scottish Schools’ Cup
The final of the U18 Scottish Schools’ Cup will be between Trinity College, Glenalmond and Strathallan School. The former defeated Fettes College (6-3) with a penalty in the last minute while the latter scored 21 points in the second half to overcome Watsons (21-3).
In the U16 cup the semi-finals take place on Saturday (25th November). The draw is:
- Stewart’s Melville College v Edinburgh Academy Inverleith 10.30 k.o
- Heriot’s v Watsons Goldenacre 10.30 k.o.
Good luck to the RBG in their quest to reach the final!
SM Senior 2XV
With the Autumn Internationals, senior fixtures have been somewhat curtailed and, with this in mind, a 2nd XV match was organised against Currie last Friday night under the lights at Malleny Park. The #RBG produced a good performance and after 20 minutes had secured a very useful 24-5 lead. Sadly, at this point, Andy Smith, in a purely accidental collision, broke his leg and the game was abandoned to allow the paramedics to do their job. The X-Ray did not make pleasant viewing but, after an operation on Saturday morning, the prognosis appears to be good. We wish Andy a speedy recovery and a quick return to action.
SM Senior 1st XV
The Senior 1st XV welcomed Preston Lodge to Inverleith for the second round of the BT National League Cup. The visitors provided a very stern examination and, indeed, were leading by one point with minutes left on the clock. Forward power proved to be the RBG’s ace card throughout the game and it was perhaps fitting that No. 8 and captain Adam Howie surged away from a forward drive for a try under the posts. This, converted by Gregor Porteous, provided a 6 point cushion and a 33-27 victory. Understandably, our visitors felt that they could have won a game which was an exciting encounter for the neutral if a little tense for the committed! It was perhaps not the team’s best performance but great character was shown to produce an eventual positive outcome. Watching from the touchline is not always a precise science – and criticism can easily and thoughtlessly be dispensed in the clubhouse – but it is good to be reminded of the hard work, effort and commitment that is expended on the paddock. Thank you, Tom Croy!
Thoughts must now turn to the crucial trip to Poynder Park on 2nd December where Kelso are our opponents. The team would really appreciate a large traveling support – please put it in your diary!
SM Mighty 3’s
The Mighty 3’s entertained Linlithgow 2’s at Inverleith on Saturday in what turned out to be a see-saw game. At one point, the Reds from West Lothian had a commanding lead and looked like they were heading for a comfortable win. However, the RBG (albeit they were playing with their shirts reversed and therefore in white!) fought back to within 2 points and looked like they might be heading for victory. Sadly, the lack of a “bench” saw them somewhat depleted as injuries took their toll and the visitors pulled away with two (slightly disputed) tries to score a 39-24 victory.
As we have been unable to field a team on occasions, the future of this side has been exercising the mind of Fin Calder and the committee for some time. It is not a pleasant task – or does it do the reputation of Stewart’s Melville’s any good – to inform a kindred club that we cannot provide opposition on a Saturday leaving them without a fixture. Whatever, the reality of the situation would appear to be that not enough players, especially at this level, are prepared to commit on a regular basis for multifarious reasons. We are, by no means, the only club in this position and, hence, an open meeting was convened at Goldenacre by Fin and the “Bear” (Ian Milne – Heriot’s and Scotland fame ) to air the issues surrounding social/reserve team rugby. Representatives of various clubs in the East reserve league joined Rob Flockhart (SRU President), Nick Rennie (Head of Club Services) and Sheila Begbie (Director of Domestic Rugby) to look at the problems and explore a way forward. No solutions were miraculously found but several items for discussion were unearthed. Interestingly, one assertion was that an unfair emphasis was being placed on rugby with regard to concussion and, while it was a debate deserving of very serious consideration and action, it was not necessarily more prevalent in rugby than any other sport. Indeed rugby deserved credit by addressing the issue and being proactive in dealing with it. Is there an issue with publicity and information which is perhaps skewing parental and participant views? Food for thought!
Sheila Begbie (Director of Domestic Rugby) undertook to investigate the various issues, consult with interested participants and report back at a later date. If you have any ideas please put them forward. Watch this space!
Last Sunday, the Lionesses played a round robin tournament at Netherdale against Gala Vixens and Melrose Queen Bees. The girls found the first game against Melrose a tough proposition and conceded a number of tries in the first half. However, they found their feet in the second period through some outstanding defence and the creation of a number scoring opportunities. The Queen Bees were stopped in their tracks and the RBG scored a very deserved try in the last few seconds.
With their confidence boosted, a number of tries were scored in a much more assertive performance against the Gala team. It was especially heartening to see the new members of the team getting stuck in with great enthusiasm and bringing off a number of great tackles. To get extra game time the girls joined forces with the two other sides to play a game on what was nearly a full-sized pitch. They greatly benefited from the experience and generosity of both the Queen Bees and the Vixens.
The inexperienced Lionesses have still to secure their first win this season but the enthusiasm and determination of the team is sure to pay dividends as the season progresses. It is great to see this new dimension to the club taking shape.
Scottish Rugby has just released an Overview of Agenda 3 (for brief details see below) and the Franchise Information for the Super 6 Tournament. This is going to have a seismic effect on Scottish Rugby and, for anybody interested, requires detailed consideration. Watch this space!
Agenda 3 is Scottish Rugby’s plan to transform the structure of, and the strategy for, club rugby in this country. It is a blueprint for sustainable clubs. It will provide a solution for the domestic game to realign the amateur and professional elements of our sport, making it fit for purpose for the modern era.
- Four fully amateur leagues of 12 will sit below the ‘Super 6 Tournament’ – These will be The Scottish Championship and National Leagues One, Two and Three.
- The BT Premiership is to be dissolved and replaced with a six team franchise structure created from existing clubs or syndicates of clubs, called the Super 6 Tournament. This league will become part of the Union’s high performance responsibility.
- The Scottish Championship will be the highest level of amateur rugby in Scotland.
- The National Leagues one, two and three will be recalibrated to accommodate the changes higher up the structure.
- The Regional Leagues will receive enhanced support from the Union.
After a hard encounter with Selkirk, when the relative league positions belied the competitiveness and final outcome of the game, the lads deserved a weekend off to (presumably) enjoy watching Scotland overcome an under strength and underfunded – but spirited – Samoan team. From a Stew Mel point of view it was great to see George Turner gaining his first cap, with, I think, Doddie Weir being the last FP to earn that honour in 1990. What a difference a week makes in terms of the performance against the All Blacks, where a little bit of history was almost made.
We were back to National Cup business on Saturday, with an early kick off. Although a division apart, both teams are sitting second bottom in their respective leagues, having only won two games, with a points differential of 2 in Stew Mel’s favour. I am, however, sure that this was the last thing on the players’ minds as they took to the field on a beautiful autumnal, dry afternoon with a slight breeze, perfect for some running rugby and for utilising the width of Inverleith and our pacy back line.
Whilst league position and status is unquestionably paramount, a good Cup run will also reap benefits by boosting confidence and further allowing the team to gel as the season progresses.
With a reasonable sized crowd having assembled, PL kicked off playing towards the pavilion. The hosts had made several changes from the aforementioned game against Selkirk, with James and Jamie McGurk combining in midfield and a welcome return for Nathan Ross on the left wing. Cameron Taylor and Ruaridh Mitchell replaced Josh Scott and Shaun Burns in the forwards and there was another run out at 7 for school boy Conor Boyle, who impressed on his recent debut.
Stew Mel collected well after the PL start but were, however, immediately put under pressure, a penalty following a scrum leading to another PL attack that only petered out due to a knock on by second row Jonathan Sked (who otherwise had an impressive afternoon along with his second row partner Scott MacColl). Stew Mel won back possession and cleared their lines – only for PL to regain and move the ball out wide to score in the corner. The converted try put PL 7 in front with less than 10 minutes played. Their kicker certainly had his kicking boots on all afternoon.
After the restart PL were rampaging again but Stew Mel won back possession after some fine play by number 6 Tom Croy. The forwards then started an impressive drive, reminiscent of the Gala game, pushing well into PL’s 22 before quick ball from Gregor allowed Freddie to dummy and sidestep his way over the try line in a position where the conversion was a certainty. At 7 apiece within such a short period of time, you sensed it was going to be a long afternoon.
The PL 10, Robbie Griffin, was asking questions of the Stew Mel back line, although his kick into space was well fielded, and, with Stew Mel in possession again and a high tackle, the penalty went in our favour. The midfield partnership of James and Jamie was operating well, with James, in particular, using his strength and power throughout the game to make inroads and create good attacking positions. I believe he will develop well at 12.
Heading towards the 25 minute mark, PL were again in the ascendency, although a wayward kick did not find touch and the tables were turned once again. A break by Sean on the right wing earned us good field position up at the half way line, with James penetrating the midfield then offloading to Ruaridh Stewart; Ruaridh then kept the ball alive and headed back into the forwards to allow them to embark on another fine drive. There was a feeling that Stew Mel were beginning to show some dominance in the forwards which eventually lead to a try by Gus converted by Freddie.
PL were never out of the game at any time and they continued to attack, although good defence by Stew Mel over a sustained period allowed us to weather the storm as half time approached. The score at half time was Stew Mel 14 – PL 10.
With the second half underway, the Stew Mel forwards began to dominate the set piece, and this would eventually translate into points. Whilst the overall play mirrored the first half, in terms of shared possession, a penalty try was eventually awarded around the 60 minute mark. Stew Mel 21 – PL 10.
With scrum resets, collapsing and early engagements taking up significant periods of time, PL eventually won the battle with a quick ball to the right that put the number 9 (not the scrum half but the winger) Dale Gordon in for a try in the corner, again successfully converted. Stew Mel 21 – PL 17.
Stew Mel then made a change, with Gregor taking over at 10 from Freddie and Charlie Simmonds coming on off the bench at 9. After another period of pressure, good driving by the forwards and quick ball from Charlie resulted in a fine break from Gregor, who made the most of some welcome open space to sprint to the line and bring the score to 26-17. PL were far from finished, though, as they came back again, firstly with an eminently kickable penalty and thereafter a converted try after an impressive break through the midfield.
With the score at 27-26 in PL’s favour, you could sense that their tails were up as they could see victory in sight – although time was still on Stew Mel’s side. More pressure from PL eventually fizzled out and Stew Mel were able to breathe again and continue to counter attack. After sustained pressure, Adam Howie eventually crossed the line, with the try being converted by Gregor. At 33-27 there was still time left on the clock – but not enough for PL to prevent what could be described as an attritional victory.
There was a sigh of relief at the final whistle as Charlie gleefully booted the ball into touch. It was a game that either team could have won, and, from a Stew Mel point of view, there were positives which must be focussed on. PL are a good side whose league position is hard to fathom. If they continue to put out performances like they did on Saturday they will move up the table with relative ease and into mid table. This is also something we hope that Stew Mel will achieve as the league rumbles on.
The forwards to a man are now functioning as a unit, with inspirational leadership from Ruaridh Mitchell and Adam Howie, and, with strength and depth on the bench when replacements are made either due to injury or for tactical reasons, their momentum appears to be maintained. With this platform and quick ball, the backs should be able to create more chances and find space. Over the season thus far there have been regular changes in the back division, whether on the wing or in the midfield, and positional changes can take time to bed in. With Happy soon to return from injury (leg not head), clearly even more options are available.
As regards the next round of the Cup, I had a dream on Friday night that Stew Mel had got through to the quarter finals and had drawn Dumfries (one of my former teams) away. This, in itself, is not necessarily of concern – but what was of concern is that I was in the starting line up at 14 for the RBG. Thankfully I woke up!
With another break on Saturday, we look forward to resuming the league campaign on December 2nd in Kelso. There is no reason why we can’t once more return from the Borders with valuable points.
Credit 39 Design Photography
Read up on this week’s rugby related news items from ESMS
15 Sean Murchie
Graham + Sibbald
14 Ruaridh Stewart
13 Jamie McGurk
12 James Ferguson
11 Nathan Ross
10 Freddie Roddick
9 Gregor Porteous
1 Cameron Taylor
2 Ruaridh Mitchell
3 Angus Wallace
4 William Inglis
5 David Stoddart
6 Tom Croy
7 Conor Boyle
8 Adam Howie (captain)
Super Moons Lentil Puffs
16 Craig Willis
17 Josh Scott
18 Shaun Burns
Bisset Waste Management
19 Jack Blain
20 Charlie Simmonds