Match Report BT Cup Round 2 v Watsonians FC Friday 29 January 2016

Match Report BT Cup Round 2 v Watsonians FC Friday 29 January 2016

Attributed to Hemingway, the world’s shortest short story is six words: “For sale, baby’s shoes, never worn”. The story, although short, is a perfect paradigm of a short story. It has more questions than answers. Why were the shoes never worn? What happened to the baby?
These questions are implied and remain in the reader’s imagination.

So, ‘It was windy, we got beaten’, could be the world’s shortest match report. It certainly carries the advantage of brevity but such a report does not convey the bravery in defence from Stewart’s Melville or fully describe the gale force conditions.

Watsonians line up was more or less full strength whereas we had decided to rest a few of our foot soldiers in the scrum that are showing the effects of a long campaign. Taylor, McColl, Croy, Scott and Stevens were all asked to make the switch from the Second XV to the more intense atmosphere in the First XV. And in most cases they performed well.

Early skirmishes with the aforementioned gale at our backs almost brought immediate rewards but we were turned over and Watsonians broke clear. We looked to have rescued the situation but Porteous’s clearance kick only found the on-rushing Johnson who touched down outwide. A huddle behind the posts suggested we were not going to let this early reverse affect us and sure enough Ali Greig rounded off a good attacking move to touch down in the corner. Mike Hanning nailed the conversion.

The action continued with play switching from end to end, Neary and Coles (he is a good player) were making their presence felt and in general the Myreside outfit offloaded well. That asks questions of even the most organised defence. Neary touched down twice. The first score as a result of a dog-leg defence. The second try was under the posts with David Blair’s conversion, unbelievably, unable to pierce the gale.

Half-time arrived with Watsonians enjoying a 15-7 advantage. The Stewart’s Melville support prepared to watch the second half through the gaps in their fingers as it seemed inconceivable that Watsonians would not hammer home their wind assisted advantage – big time.

Bertram struck outwide early in the half, again following neat interplay, but as play broke down in midfield Angus Rennie cantered through the Watsonian ranks to score between the sticks. Mike drilled the conversion. Suddenly the score was 20-14 and we were very much in the game.

The Watsonians backs seemed to ignore advice from the sidelines to play in the opponents ‘22’ and one kick that did find touch in the ‘red area’ brought an ironic round of applause from the home coaching team. That’s what you pay the fees for – there isn’t much in the way of heavy irony when you travel to the Borders!

It wasn’t so easy to just hoof it downfield, though, and twice Stewart’s Melville just let the ball go dead to claim a scrum back from whence it came.

Our backs tackled well Ali Greig, Mike Hanning and, after he was introduced, Manson all contributed. Murchie and Whyte kept the more celebrated Watsonian threequarters on their mettle. A game like this, with backs to the wall, is tailor made for Manson’s aggressive defence and his whippy pass gave the backs extra seconds on the ball.

From the touchline it is not hard to pick when Mike Hanning decides to go – you almost feel he has time to send a quick ‘What’s App’ text message – but it seems his opponents aren’t as quick on the uptake- as Mike found the open spaces of Myreside to his liking.

A further try and conversion from Blair completed the scoring and settled the issue and preceded a raft of substitutions. The weather deteriorated further with a snow flurry but referee Graeme Ormiston dutifully played the full forty before mercifully blew the long blast.

The referee had a good game but made one mistake Ciaran was tackled, correctly rolled away and then in the absence of defenders picked it up again once he had risen from the ground. Ciaran earnestly tried to explain to the referee the error of his ways – funny they never listen and change their mind!

The game finished with uncontested scrums and it is to be hoped that none of our injuries were too severe.

Watsonians 27
Stewart’s Melville 14

Gavin Calder

Photographs courtesy of John Preece

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