Match Report v Preston Lodge RFC | Saturday 1st February
What is the difference between a Cup and league game? This is not a joke!
Answers. A Cup game has touch judges – what a luxury to have! No disrespect to Colin, who does a stalwart job every Saturday, with his efforts being recognised by awarding him a new flag if he’s lucky. The numbers allowed in the squad in a Cup game are 22. Anything can happen in a Cup game. And, lastly, the match report on a Cup game is brief (I hear a sigh of relief out there!)
Cup games certainly seem to take on a life of their own. There were a few changes in the squad, partially due to unavailability and injuries, but credit must go to the players, particularly from the Development XV, who stepped up to the mark on Saturday and did Stewart’s Melville and themselves proud. Particular mention goes to Jack Pennell on his try scoring debut. The number 20 was also decent – perhaps he should be given another opportunity!
As the old cliché goes, it was a game of two halves. Preston Lodge started strongly and were completely dominant for most of the first half, racking up a 22 nil lead after 40 minutes. The gulf between the two teams was as clear as the dry, blustery day. Their big forwards showed their power in the loose and set piece, giving their back line plenty of opportunities to attack. Most impressive were their numbers 12 and 13 who ran the show effectively. Of course this was aided and abetted by two consecutive yellow cards to Stew Mel, resulting in 13 versus 15 for a period.
It was somewhat of a relief when the whistle blew at the end of the first half. Was a comeback possible at this stage? It’s always possible, as Scotland, Leinster and Liverpool (to name but a few) have proven in the past.
As the second half got underway it was almost as if a different Stewart’s Melville team had taken to the pitch. I know the squad was larger, but, up until that stage, there had been few changes apart from those necessitated by injury. Right from the start there was a sense of urgency and togetherness and a team spirit reminiscent of what we have witnessed in recent times.
The pressure came and then a sublime drop goal by Charlie Simmonds put three points on the board. That was the beginning! The turning point thereafter was Doug Randall, in another Man of the Match display, getting the first try of the afternoon; from then on, more scores came, the margins closed, and, with minutes left, the winning try came courtesy of Jamie McGurk. Final score Stewart’s Melville 34 Preston Lodge 29.
What an entertaining afternoon, with some scintillating tries from both sides. Whilst the league may be the focus, it is still great to be in the Cup competition and to perpetuate that winning mentality. Next up in the Cup is a visit to Lasswade on 28th March. Rather ironically, the next league encounter is with Preston Lodge at Inverleith on 15th February. Beware, and remember the key differences – this is the league once more. Can’t wait.
Match photo by Jax MacKenzie Photography