1st XV Match Report vs Cartha Queens Park
Another Saturday, another defeat for our 1st XV in Glasgow. This was, however, very different to the game against GHA the previous week, as we were leading at Dumbreck until literally the last play, and, to be honest, should probably have had the win sown up long before then. As it is, we bank the losing bonus, analyse the match video for more learning points and look forward to our return to the wide open spaces of Inverleith this Saturday.
The game at Dumbreck started very tentatively, with both teams sounding each other out and defence very much on top. It rapidly became apparent that our lineout was going to be a major weapon for us, with big Ruaridh hitting his jumpers and Jamie Sword (in particular) putting in a performance of Maxtonesque majesty. On the down side, we appeared to be struggling with the narrowness of the pitch, with our wingers continually having to cut inside to try and keep the ball alive.
The cobwebs finally came off the scoreboard after 22 minutes, when Scott Docherty deftly slalomed through the Cartha midfield after we’d strung together a series of phases to claim excellent field position within the home 22. The touch down near the post (sic) made it an easy conversion for Doc, and we were 7-0 up.
Things got tentative again after the score, but the game burst into life just before the interval when Cartha scored twice in rapid succession. The first try actually came after Cartha had butchered a lineout near the halfway line; we then gifted them back the ball and pretty much stood and watched as their backline worked their way towards the top left corner, evergreen winger Antony Nyangweso eventually dotting down. Or not dotting down, depending who you spoke to, as there was a definite hint of a knock on over the line. Regardless of that, Cartha were back in the game, and our lead was cut to 2 points after 35 minutes.
Cartha took the lead just three minutes after that, their combative back row making the most of more lacklustre defence to engineer a score under the sticks, with Calum Dickson claiming the touchdown. The easy conversion made it 12-7 to our hosts at the break.
The second half started with what looked like a potentially bad shoulder injury to Doc, but, after a lengthy delay while physio Richard worked his magic, our 10 was able to continue.
The game then swung back in our favour, a quick lineout on the stand side allowing us to string a series of phases together after some good work from our centres. Just as it looked like we were going to run out of running room once again, big Roo rampaged in from fully a yard out to claim the try. Doc’s fine conversion put us 14-12 up with 55 minutes gone.
A sweetly struck penalty from Doc a few minutes later stretched our lead to 17-12.
The ‘You score, we score’ nature of the game was underlined just seven minutes thereafter when a Cartha maul rolled over the line for a try at the clubhouse end, Burrows’ sweet conversion giving Cartha a 19-17 advantage.
Play resumed with us very much on the attack, our forwards carrying well and the backs starting to tailor their running lines to the dimensions of the Dumbreck pitch. We duly claimed what looked to be the winning score with just a few minutes left on the clubhouse game clock, an excellent break by Nathan up the stand side leading us back to Roo Corner. The big man, no doubt relieved to be back in his own personal version of Laidlaw’s Corner at Lansdowne Road, once more gassed his way over the line from close in. Doc’s conversion bounced back off the left hand upright, but we were still 22-19 to the good.
Our lead lasted for barely two minutes, with Cartha redoubling their efforts after the restart. They were eventually awarded an eminently kickable scrum penalty, but, rather than shoot for the draw, decided to kick to the corner and hope that their somewhat beleaguered lineout could hold together. They managed to win the throw and set off towards our line with the ball up their collective jumper once again. We understandably threw everything we had into repulsing the rolling maul, with the result that large holes started to appear in our defence round the fringes. Once the ball was cleverly popped out to that man Nyangweso on the blindside wing, he dived through one of those large holes to claim the winning try. The missed conversion made the score 24-22 to Cartha as the ref blew for time.
It was pleasing to see how shell shocked our players were at the final whistle, as this was very much a match that we could – and probably should – have won. We enjoyed the bulk of possession and were dominant at scrum and lineout, with big Roo standing out at both types of set piece.
Our discipline was also way better than it had been at Braidholm.
We were, however, undone by some lacklustre tackling, a tendency to overcomplicate things when the ball went wide and a certain slowness in reacting when Cartha ran (or rumbled) the ball at us.
Very much a game of small margins, in other words – we’re not a million miles off, which is much more than you could have claimed after that battering at Braidholm.
We’re back on the lush expanses of Pitch 1 this Saturday for the visit of Jed. This won’t be an easy game, by any means, but we should, at least, have a few older heads back from injury to strengthen the squad. Add that to the hard lessons learned over the course of our Glaswegian double header and you have all the ingredients for a cracking contest against the men from Riverside Park – see you at HQ