MATCH REPORT vs Howe of Fife
And breathe…., was the reaction of the Stewart’s Melville support at 4.30 on Saturday.
The match was, in truth, a lot closer and a lot harder than it needed to be. Talk about making it hard for yourself. The previous two weeks at Selkirk and Accies had given glimpses that there was a team in the red black and gold colours that could, not only, control a game, but also, cause opponents to panic. We had been unable, prior to this match, to sustain that control for eighty minutes.
On Saturday, against Howe we unarguably had control for the bulk of the game but were unable to complete the task until four minutes from time. Nerves, undoubtedly, played their part with both teams under no illusion that a defeat would be very difficult to recover from, both in terms of the ‘R’ word and club morale.
An early hit by Bowie, following an ‘up and under’, set the tone for the match and we blitzed the visitors from Fife, not allowing them time to get their re-cycling game together. Rappestad (and how many tries has he scored for us?) ploughed over from short range after four minutes with Hanning converting.
Our scrum was solid, with the front row now settled at this level and any possession that Howe garnered was compromised. Howe’s strength is in their threequarters, with neat handling and Lathangie at scrum-half directing operations. From a wayward kick, Gray waltzed his way through our ranks – it would have definitely got a ’10 from Len’ – to touch down leaving Ellison to tie up the scores, after twenty minutes. Nowadays, when you kick out of defence you must have your runners in position and able to complete the follow up tackle or you are inviting the opposition to run at you with space and support. Like a golf, shot the boot/ club face has to be square at impact otherwise the ball is sliced and in golf or rugby that is never a good thing.
With all the backs lined up on the left ‘Puckle’ found the ball emerging from the right side of the scrum, he threw a dummy to the departed winger, in other words, the stand and escaped. From a subsequent ruck Morrison found Bowie who touched down in the corner – Mike Hanning converted. Mike converted a penalty but Ellison replied on half – time.
Howe had lost a man to the ‘bin’ just before that for a second high tackle. Referees have a difficult job and if they see an offence they have to blow-up, because they are constantly being assessed, but things like ‘not rolling away’ when the attacking team have retained possession interrupt needlessly the flow of the game and irritate the players and spectators.
Half Time Stewart’s Melville 17 – Howe of Fife 13
And so the score remained until the last four minutes of the game. Thrice we ensued the three points of a penalty in order to claim the five and a two score gap. Each time we were held up over the line. There was always the threat of a Howe breakaway until finally, Ferguson was left with a clear run to the corner beside the clubhouse to raucous cheers from the enclave of support situated there.
Still Howe competed and we managed to keep the game alive by not exiting cleanly via a knock –on. The game finished with Stewart’s Melville in pursuit of a four try bonus that would have rounded the day off nicely but it was not to be.
We now have a pretty useful pack with Sword, Scott, Grant and Dixon eager to contribute from the bench, when they get the opportunity. Mike Hanning is the guy the backs look to for control and with Sean Murchie back next week there might be a welcome selection dilemma in the backs.
The confidence and relief gained from that victory will be measured next week when we travel to Hamilton. The coaches and committee are encouraged to note that we had 60 boys representing the club on Saturday with training numbers regularly in the forties. Finally Saturday the 5th November is the date for our Ball at Murrayfield. If you want to support the club get along ‘Let’s make this club/country great again. Trust me, we can do this’ …D Trump