Match Report v Musselburgh RFC | Saturday 20 January 2018
Match report Stewarts Melville v Musselburgh – Saturday 20 January Despite the inclement weather and a significant number of games being off, we were on for yet another “big” game. I would rather not use the “R” word at this stage but best to call this the battle at the foot of the table.
Stew Mel kicked off towards the castle and right from the start applied significant pressure, winning and retaining possession. It was certainly apparent that they were up for this one, knock on’s and poor line out’s aside, the bulk of possession and territory was in their favour. In fact Musselburgh had only been into the Stew Mel half once during this period. It was at or around that stage that it was apparent they were coming back into the game but despite our dominance there was still no score after 20 minutes.
Musselburgh won a penalty and in an attempt to clear their lines failed to find touch. Stew Mel tried a quick line out but the touch judge called play back. Musselburgh again were starting to find space and fluidity which resulted in a try by Ruaridh Young at around the 30 minute mark.
The game was now becoming a more balance contest with both teams attacking. Some strong scrummaging from Musselburgh lead to a penalty. Stew Mel 0 Musselburgh 10. A similar pattern of play thereafter ensued leading to a further penalty. Half time score Stew Mel 0 Musselburgh 13.
A competitive first half indeed although with the bulk of possession and territory it was surprising and disappointing that we had not crossed the line on at least one occasion. Perhaps we ran out of ideas but certainly credit must go to the Musselburgh defence. It was going to be a long 40 minutes.
It was almost a role reversal in the second half with Stew Mel having to fight to get out of their own half which they eventually did. The Musselburgh forwards were beginning to click and in the set piece were extremely strong. However a great break by Gregor Porteous had the crowd on their feet in the hope that this was an opportunity to break the deadlock however despite support from Jack Somerville, good defence from Musselburgh scuppered our chances. I think Gregor must be sprinting between surveys as he is certainly looking very sharp!
Whilst this excursion into the Musselburgh half had failed, a break from Adam Greig from the 22, followed by a great offload to Connor Boyle who after some juggling found Sean on the right wing with a bit of work to do but successfully touched down with Stew Mel’s first and only try of the game. In the closing stages a a few substitutions were made however it was unfortunately a little too late as Musselburgh managed to power their way over the line bringing the final score to Stewarts Melville 5 Musselburgh 20.
Another hard day but a better performance. The YouTube hightlights of the game certainly show what we can do but we just have to do it more often. The forwards looked strong when in possession which we clearly need more of and Fraser Morrison was a welcome return to the fray. Connor Boyle was yet again outstanding. Lets hope he is available for the rest of the season. James always does well in the midfield. He made a great break on Saturday and always puts us in good attacking positions. It was good also to see Adam Greig back, his strong running being a great asset. In the second half Jack Somerville succumbed to a nasty injury and I am sure we all wish him a speedy recovery.
On reflection this is yet another game that we could have won if our initial dominance and pressure had led to points and if we had managed to continue that theme for a more sustained period. However whilst we may have had this game plan in mind let’s not forget that there is another 15 men on the pitch who have every intention of spoiling the party which they inevitably did.
Turning points in a game can be due to fine margins. I have in previous reports commented on my thoughts on the kicking game and Jed, certainly when playing us did not kick away possession. I think during that game they kicked twice, a chip and a grubber, but kept the ball in hand and were very effective in so doing. That appears to be the general theme of the majority of teams we play against. Perhaps we are not being afforded that luxury at the moment with a lack of good clean ball. That may change of course and then we can also hopefully play the running game to effect. We head north to the Granite Planet on Saturday and as always, we are looking for a result, certainly not the score we experienced during our previous encounter at Inverleith!