Match Report: Stewart’s Melville RFC v Gordonians
Saturday 9th November – Kick off 2 pm
Being on a winning roll is always good for confidence, particularly as performances are improving and the team is settled. The only significant change to the starting line up was, in the absence of Jamie Sword, Ally Scott coming into the boiler house and probably knowing that this was a hard act to follow, given the fact that Jamie was, without doubt, having a fantastic season. Ally certainly rose to the occasion and produced a MOTM performance personified by two tries of his own.
It was also good to see a healthy number of supporters, some of whom had enjoyed the pre match lunch. My good friend Hamish of Aberdonian extraction had done an excellent job in herding his Aberdeen exiled colleagues, some of whom were ex Robert Gordon’s pupils. In addition we also had three of our canine cousins – two Labrador/retrievers from Edinburgh and one sheep dog from Aberdeen (where else!) who all seemed to enjoy the occasion.
Gordonians kicked off towards the Castle on yet another sunkissed Invers afternoon. Stew Mel retrieved well and sent the ball back into their half which enabled Gordonians to launch their attack with ball in hand, and, although they were not making as much progress as they would have hoped, it was nonetheless an encouraging start for the visitors. A knock on led to the first scrum of the afternoon and a strong one at that, as Stew Mel got their hands on the ball, Adam Greig and James Ferguson combining well and utilising the width of the pitch – maybe too much width, as a line-out on the Gordonian 22 was the end result.
Good defence from the Stew Mel midfield of ‘the Jamies’ (Ferguson & McGurk) kept Gordonians at bay, and, with possession being regained, quick hands and impressive interplay saw Sean Murchie opening Stew Mel’s account for the afternoon with around 5 minutes played. Stew Mel 5 v Gordonians 0.
At the restart Scott Alldritt, with his distinctive green scrum cap, gathered well with his trademark drive, and, with Ruaridh Mitchell and latterly James Ferguson close at hand, progress was made well into the visitors’ half, but disappointingly, a penalty was conceded. Gordonians thereafter gained some territory and a line-out, although the tables were turned and Stew Mel kicked deep into their half. They attacked once more, but, partially due to the pressure being applied by the hosts, the attack petered out with a scrum at the half way line, Stew Mel ball.
The green scrum cap was off again and almost over but a penalty prevented further progress. At this stage 15 minutes had been played but there were no changes to the score despite opportunities. The pressure continued and Matt Sanderson went close but Gordonians managed to clear their lines, albeit only temporarily as Stew Mel attacked once more with James, Ruaridh and Darren Miller all involved. At last the pressure paid off, and, with 20 minutes played, ‘le Vert’ Scott Alldritt was in. Stew Mel 10 – Gordonians 0.
The mounting pressure continued as Stew Mel made good use of their possession with some good hands once more, Matt Sanderson offloading to Sean who ultimately crossed for his second of the afternoon. 30 minutes, played Stew Mel 15 – Gordonians 0.
A few changes then followed due to injuries. Matthew Watson’s afternoon was over, which meant some shuffling around, with the versatile Charlie Simmonds coming in on the wing, Sean at full back and Connor McKay entering the fray along with Joe Bailey. I think these changes, in themselves, illustrate the strength and depth that we now have as half time approached. Penalties were exchanged, as was possession, but, despite Gordonians enjoying a bit more of the latter, Stew Mel’s defence held up once more – particularly when it seemed that Gordonians were certain to score when they were the beneficiaries of an interception. Half time Stew Mel 15 – Gordonians 0.
There was certainly a spring in Gordonians’ step as the second half got underway and they attacked once more. There were no signs, at this stage, of these attacks waning, but, each time, they were met by a brick wall, and, when Gordonians managed either to earn a scrum or a penalty in their favour, the Stew Mel back row, particularly, were out of their blocks like bullets, knocking them back and preventing any territorial advantage.
On at least three occasions the Stew Mel forwards wrapped up the opposition, winning the scrum and easing any pressure that was coming their way. It did take a while before the fourth try came, along with the bonus point – at around the 55 minute mark, to be precise, courtesy of debutant Ally Scott, with Euan Bowen this time adding the extras.
With the floodgates now slightly ajar, the forwards rumbling on and around 65 minutes played, this time it was Darren Miller who forced his way over. Stew Mel 27 – Gordonians 0.
Shortly after the restart Ally, clearly not content with his elevation to the first team and one try to his name, was over again for a second, converted by Euan, bringing the score after about 67 minutes played to Stew Mel 34 – Gordonians 0. Gordonians, although still in the mix, were now struggling against a dominant Stew Mel side, with our forwards doing the damage and Fraser Strachan, the lynchpin, varying play, foiling the opposition and finding space and width. As Sean broke through a few defenders, he sensibly realised that it was best to offload to the young fresh legs of Charlie, who sprinted 50m for the final score of the afternoon. Stew Mel 39 – Gordonians 0.
I think the try scorers should be more considerate and make it slightly easier for Euan. If that had been the case it would have been 49!
Another good day at Inverleith, and, although not quite a ‘Dumfries’ performance, there was a touch of the Japanese as we witnessed some great hands between both forwards and backs – and, just like Scotland couldn’t live with it, neither could Gordonians. The defence was again resolute. Anyone who has played the game knows how physically and mentally draining it can be. That said, Gordonians, I think, were perhaps unlucky not to get some points on the scoreboard as they clearly had opportunities but maybe the wrong decisions were made. Easy for me to say, watching from the stand, as these are split second decisions which can change a game. They certainly have some impressive players in their ranks, particularly their numbers 9, 7 and their captain at13. I think they will get some more wins under their belt as the season progresses.
As our president alluded to, this league is very difficult to predict, but, at least, our position in the table has significantly improved, and if you do some positive maths, taking into account the fact that we have a game in hand against the league leaders who we have already beaten, then you can see where we might end up.
If I can quote our chairman Fin, ‘we simply must keep winning, for success, oh yes, success he has a thousand fathers. Failure, oh yes, he is an orphan’.
Next up, Glasgow Accies at New Anniesland, formerly Old Anniesland! See you then.