Match Report: v Aberdeen Grammar, Saturday 14 November
When Stewarts/Melville opened up a 23 point lead with twenty minutes to go it seemed as if only one outcome was possible – a comfortable home win with a bonus point thrown in.
The coaches must have been thinking along the same lines as the remaining replacements were introduced meaning only 2/3rds of the starting XV were on the paddock. To be fair to the coaches, the bench is there to be used and the same substitutions policy is used in the professional game and, in a mainly amateur environment, players want to play. This, however, seemed to unsettle the side somewhat and it is not so much the replacements, as they are keen to impress, but the effect on the remainder of the starting line-up. The following are side- effects, particularly for the less experienced
- Why is ‘so and so’ going off – he is playing well?
- Subconsciously they relax a bit thinking the game is won
- They have to adapt to a new line-out, new scrum, new backline which may not be worse but is different
It is therefore to everyone’s credit that we managed to weather the storm, conceding two converted tries in the process, and came back to secure the bonus point on the stroke of full time.
The game started with a tribute to the terrible events in Paris as a side note those who suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia would no doubt find their fears justified.
All games in our league involve an initial arm wrestle where defences are tested and usually after this period one side gradually exerts their superiority. Warnock confidently knocked over a penalty after14 minutes and Strachan then squeezed over in the club house corner following a period of sustained pressure. Our scrum was dominant giving Warnock a bit of time to find his feet. Andrew certainly found his composure with a dummy – bought by the whole stand – to release Greig who found the ever willing McCann in support to score within range of the posts. Ross is such a natural player he instinctively knows when to pass and when to go and for someone with the ability to beat a player and therefore usually tends to be greedy – that is a rare gift.
At this time Aberdeen struggled to gain a foothold they had chances in our half but lost three line-outs. Either a miss-directed throw or a good leap by Berrisford foiled their ambitions. Hagart, for Aberdeen, missed a penalty that he would usually have nailed. Half-time then, 15-0.
The pack continued where they had left off and the welcome return of Hugh Lindsay to the starting line-up gives our back row a bit of a presence. Sean Murchie scorched over in the corner beside Inverleith’s club house. There followed several strong scrums but the referee was reluctant to acquiesce to our promptings for a push-over penalty try. Indeed with Aberdeen down to 14 due to a yellow card we missed a couple of opportunities before we pragmatically took the three points to stretch our lead to 23 unanswered points.
Then followed the events described in the opening paragraph but there was an interesting twist in the tail. Willie Aitken was re-introduced in a bid to steady the ship and sure enough we spent the last few minutes in enemy territory seeking the bonus point try. There followed, as we beautifully say in our People’s Republic ‘a stramash’.
One of the Aberdeen players for a reason best known only to him connected with a healthy hoof to the derriere of Seb Trotter. Willie, incensed joined the fray to mete out justice and the aforementioned stramash ensued. Mindful of red cards Willie’s teammates formed a huddle around him until order was restored. A yellow card was the outcome and a penalty for Stewart’s Melville. Instead of the scrum option we created a ruck under the sticks and engineered space for McCann to motor through – Warnock converted.
The passion that Willie displayed showed how much the club means to him and if we take that attitude to Poynder Park next week we will be hard to beat.
It was good to read of the success of the Ball and at the same time read that the Chinese owners of Wentworth Golf Club has raised the fee for joining from £15,000 to £125,000. It all makes our subscription rather tame.
FULL TIME Stewart’s Melville 30 Aberdeen 14
Paraskevidekatriaphobia = fear of Friday the 13th (derived from Greek)