Match Report v Preston Lodge RFC | Saturday 15th February
Despite the blustery conditions, courtesy of Storm Dennis, it was great to get back on track with our league campaign and good to see healthy support for both sides. Unlike our previous encounter, SM started strongly, playing into the wind towards the Castle, and the pressure within the first 5 minutes ultimately led to a kickable penalty for Euan Morrison. That made it SM 3 – PL 0. The scoreboard, however, remained at this footballesque level for the entire first half!
At the restart Scott Alldritt took the ball cleanly and the green laced scrum cap was off once again – what I would like to know is, is it his or is it his brother’s? PL conceded a penalty around the halfway line and SM applied more pressure, although PL managed to win the ball back, and, this time, it was their turn to apply the same within their own half. A knock on soon switched the advantage in SM’s favour, but, unfortunately, despite an impressive drive, this fizzled out due to yet another knock on. Scrummaging followed, then there was a penalty in PL’s favour, which they took quickly to advance into SM’s 22. Our well organised defence, epitomised by Joe Bailey – well within the rules of engagement – disrupted their momentum, however, forcing PL to change tactics and kick. They did just that but failed to take the wind into consideration and the impetus was lost.
SM were back in the driving seat, and, for once, the penalty count appeared to be in our favour, giving the opportunity for, in particular, the midfield of James Ferguson and Euan Morrison to get over the gain line. It wasn’t long before another penalty came our way, followed by a line out and a scrum directly in front of the PL posts as the pressure continued. PL turned the tables, however, clearing the ball out of the danger area – only for the kick to be well fielded by Adam Greig as the play then resumed in the contact areas. The continued pressure in PL’s 22 didn’t result in points, though, and, with 25 minutes played, the 3 nil scoreboard told its own story.
PL were enjoying more possession now and were back in SM’s half with a line out on our 22, but a great steal by Jamie Sword and the forwards collectively securing the ball allowed Fraser Strachan to clear the lines – not very far, but far enough. A tireless effort from the forwards followed, going through the phases and enabling the backs to enjoy some of the ball as our attacks were launched once more. Again the pressure on PL’s 10m line led to nothing, due, primarily, to the visitors’ strong defence. A similar pattern of play to what we had seen earlier in the half began to unfold, with opportunities being lost when a try seemed to be a certainty. As half time approached it was just not to be, and, with us enjoying a ‘comfortable’ 3 point margin, it was all to play for in the second half.
A familiar pattern of play unfolded in the early stages of the second half before a kickable penalty at last brought about a change on the scoreboard with 45 minutes played: SM 6 – PL 0.
PL were struggling to get out of their own half at this stage, and, as the unrelenting pressure continued, the try finally came, with Scott Alldritt touching down, his fellow forwards omnipresent during the lead up. Euan Morrison’s attempted conversion almost made it but was denied by a combination of the crossbar and the unpredictability of Dennis once more. 58 minutes played, SM 11 – PL 0.
The unpleasant weather conditions were not abating, and, indeed, could clearly be seen worsening on Pitch 2 where our Development XV were grinding out a spirited victory over their rivals Edinburgh Accies. Back on Pitch 1, SM were definitely in the ascendancy and the majority of play was being confined to PL’s half. Again their impressive defence prevented more tries until the deadlock was finally broken after a series of attacks. This time it was Euan Morrison who breached the line and ‘happily’ converted his own try. At 18 nil and with time running out, this was a genuinely comfortable margin and was, as predicted, the final score. SM 18 – PL 0.
A good afternoon from SM’s perspective. PL were strong opponents and may have felt that they could, at least, have put some points on the board, but credit must go to both teams for playing some decent rugby in unfavourable conditions. Although top of the league once more, the number of games played have pretty much evened out across the teams at the top of the table and that table is still very tight. This can change very rapidly, as we all know – just like the inclement weather on Saturday.
The journey continues!
Match photograph by Jax MacKenzie Photography