Match Report v Peebles RFC | Saturday 10 February | BT National League Cup
Match report Stewarts Melville v Peebles Saturday 10 February 2pm kick-off Inverleith Quarter Finals – BT Cup A lovely, but blustery day at Inverleith and a reasonable number of travelling supporters from Peebles set the scene. A few changes from the team that faced Accies had been made for a change! It would be disrespectful to Peebles to report only on the second half, however this certainly was a game of two halves as the old cliché goes, and the second half is when Stew Mel began to do what they are capable of doing and it was really only during this period that the gulf between the two teams and their respective divisions was apparent. All credit to Peebles who gave everything right up to the final whistle and did manage to get that consolation try in the dying minutes. I was, however, never in doubt that we would win and perhaps we should have won by a bigger margin.
Peebles kicked-off towards the Castle and immediately the ball was spilled – “no names, no pack drill”. This is exactly what happened at the beginning of the Aberdeen game so as far as I was concerned was a good omen! As play resumed Stew Mel won a lineout around the half way line and after a good drive by the forwards and a break by James Ferguson, Peebles were subsequently penalised. Although the penalty was within kickable distance they showed their intent at this stage of the game by going for the line rather than the 3 points. However the lineout malfunctioned and the opportunity to open the scoring was lost.
A good break from Peebles and another line out just outside Stew Mel’s 22 resulted in a knock on. The subsequent scrum, followed by another break, didn’t materialise with Stew Mel managing to clear their lines. A successful lineout this time gave the forwards a good driving platform and at 5 metres out Peebles were penalised for being offside. Stew Mel took the penalty quickly but were held up. A Scrum on their 5 metre line and thereafter a successful clearance gave some breathing space. Stew Mel however won back possession and after a break by Adam Greig they were rewarded another penalty. A knock on from what appeared to be a good lineout, gifted Peebles the opportunity to attack and had only been in Stew Mel’s half once within the first 15 minutes of play. Stew Mel again won possession and a break from the number 10, but another knock on, and a penalty, put Peebles in the ascendancy, with territorial advantage being gained. A solid scrum from the Borderers thereafter lead to a further penalty giving them the chance to open the scoring which they did. 25 minutes played Stew Mel 0 Peebles 3.
As play re With 6 points in the bag, Peebles looked more confident although Stew Mel were beginning to put phases together and began to look more like the team that played Accies the previous week. An injury to Duncan (hamstring) around the 35 minute mark meant another run out for the impressive Conor Boyle. As Peebles were put under more pressure the first yellow card of the match was duly shown giving Stew Mel an immediate advantage and a good break down the right wing lead to a lineout 5 metres out, successful this time, and a drive over the line by Ruaridh Mitchell setting up the first try although the conversion was unsuccessful. 35 minutes in, Stew Mel 5 Peebles 6.
Another good break up the centre of the field eventually fizzled out as this time, perhaps the wrong options being taken. As half time approached Stew Mel were gradually getting on top and there was a feeling that there would be more trys in the second half and Conor Boyle duly obliged. At the 42nd minute mark, he seized the opportunity, picking up a loose ball and sprinted to the line. Stew Mel 12 Peebles 6. Some more good hands and a good break from Cameron (one of them) set up Adam for another try, Happy converted, around 50 minutes. Stew Mel 19 Peebles 6. Peebles were by no means on the rack and after another attack were awareded a penalty for offside. Stew Mel however won the lineout giving Gregor the opportunity to clear the lines.
A change in the half backs was then made with Charlie Simmonds coming in at scrum half and Gregor resuming his now familiar role once again at number 10. Charlie’s “bullet” pass very much from the Andrew Manson School of scrum half passes (finest in the Northern Hemisphere) and the resultant quick ball enabled the backs to set up attacks which they did to good effect. A turnover then by Ruaridh Mitchell put some more pressure on Peebles and a penalty within their 22.
Around 55 minutes played and after some good field position was established, another break by James, and a try, the recipient being Cameron Symes. Stew Mel 24 Peebles 6.
Stew Mel were now showing their dominance although Peebles were not down and out by any stretch of the imagination and still took their opportunities whenever they came their way. However this was overshadowed by the number of good phases Stew Mel were putting together and the fitness levels were beginning to show.
Like most teams that find themselves on the back foot, another yellow card came their way. A break by Conor, the ball arriving in James’s hands lead to another try at around the 70 minute mark. Stew Mel 29 Peebles 6.
In the dying moments the pace of the game continued along with some tired legs and a few mistakes came into the mix allowing Peebles, despite Stew Mel’s good defence all day, to drive over the line for their consolation try. Final score Stew Mel 29 Peebles 13.
A win is a win under any circumstances and will give confidence going into yet another crucial league match against Dundee on Saturday. There are many positives to be taken from this game in particular some good rugby being played particularly in the second half, with a fast tempo and the backs using the width and running good lines. The forwards also, once settled, were playing as an effective unit and giving the backs the platform to do what they do best and, hey, we are in the BT National League Cup semi-final! – opposition at the time of writing unknown.
Mistakes were made, partially I think, due to the conditions particularly in the more exposed parts of the pitch. If we can minimise these throughout games, retain possession, win lineouts, avoid penalties, get quick ball out to the backs and convert the trys that both the forwards and backs are capable of, then the results will come. Simple really!
Hopefully “availability” is not an issue as we are back to business on Saturday and if there are any changes I am sure they will be for the good. As always onwards and upwards.
Kevin Murchie, Chief Reporter
Photographs courtesy of 39 Design Photography