Match Report(s) v Gala & Kelso
As I sign off for the season, I though it appropriate to give a “brief” report on the last two home games v Gala & Kelso respectively. So basically, you are getting two for the price of one!
The Gala game was in itself probably more significant in so far as the result confirmed the end of our National one tenure. A win with a bonus point and depending on other results, would have kept us hanging on only just but it was not to be. The Kelso game in contrast was more about pride particularly having lost in the cup semi final to the same opponents the week before.
Whilst there were some similarities in both games i.e. we lost, in many ways they both summed up our season where there were a significant number of games that we could have won and marginally lost, probably as a result of our own poor game management. Of course there were some other results where we were well beaten and would rather forget about. These games definitely did affect confidence and as the points didn’t come we found ourselves forcing games in desperation to achieve a win which can always be risky. In my opinion with the exception of say, the top four, we were as good as, if not better than most.
As said two “brief” reports will now follow;
Saturday 24 March Stew Mel v Gala – 3pm kick-off
A familiar looking team took to the pitch that had been transformed from what could only have been described as a paddy field into lush pasture (almost)! All credit to the grounds staff for their efforts.
Gala kicked off towards Ferry Road and the game started to ebb and flow in terms of both possession and territory. The big Gala forwards started flexing their muscles and winning good lineout ball which eventually lead to the first try. Stew Mel 0 Gala 7. There wasn’t much between the two teams for the first twenty minutes although the penalty count against Stew Mel was mounting. Once in possession however some good phases were being put together and Ruaridh Mitchell again managed to drive his way over the line at around 30 minutes played. Stew Mel 5 Gala 7. A superb break then followed by Euan Morrison, AKA Happy whom despite his season having been marred by unfortunate injuries, was having a great game. However, his progress was soon halted and his afternoon ended courtesy of his opposite number. Ill-discipline or frustration – call it what you like. A retaliatory punch, yeah right!
The eagled eyed touch judge had spotted the offence and a red card was immediately shown. The only beneficiary of this thuggery was the early introduction of Cash and what an impact he made. Unfortunately, however we couldn’t make the one-man advantage count although we did get another score and so did Gala. Final score Stew Mel 10 Gala 15.
Saturday 7 April Stew Mel v Kelso – 3pm kick-off
Another beautiful day at Inverleith and also a sad one as the teams lined up for a minute’s silence in memory of Dave Brewster a former club legend. This was very much a game of two halves the first seeing some great rugby from Stew Mel which is perhaps indicative of the pressure being off and their league status for next season a reality. 10 minutes in after some great handling Euan Bowen strolled across the line and Cash converted. Stew Mel continued using the width of the pitch to great effect resulting in another try by Happy. Stew Mel 14 Kelso 0. 25 minutes gone and Kelso were now finding their way and touched down with a successful conversion. As half time loomed, Cash continued to orchestrate proceedings from all over the pitch this time getting the ball out to the right wing for Sean to work his way past a number of defenders for Stew Mel’s third try of the afternoon successfully converted by Cash. A penalty 5 minutes later gave Kelso a further 3 points Half time score Stew Mel 21 Kelso 10. What a half but unfortunately that was the afternoon’s entertainment for the Stew Mel faithful.
The second half can only be best described as a plethora of penalties, wasteful kicking and loss of structure probably not helped by a number of enforced changes due to injury. Kelso managed to score another couple of trys with the final score Stew Mel 21 – Kelso 27. A disappointing and frustrating end to a disappointing season.
There was however some good rugby on display and on reflection we must be aware of what we can do to improve. I have on a number of occasions made my views on the kicking game fairly clear and yet again there were at least two good examples of this where we gave possession straight back to the opposition. Despite playing good rugby and working through phases we opted to kick which immediately gave Kelso the upper hand and they retained possession for significant periods which ultimately lead to trys.
The majority of teams we have played this season have been more tactically astute in this regard and most have the mindset to play running rugby which actually works! We must learn to use our wide pitch to this effect. If James Ferguson gets the ball in space he is a difficult man to stop.
That said, no point on dwelling on the negatives. With Kelso the penultimate game we are away to Falkirk next Saturday. I think they are the only team that have certainly had a worst season. We must now look forward to building for next season and being successful in division 2 with the ultimate aim of getting back to where we belong and restoring the natural order! This will be a hard journey but will all be worthwhile. It won’t be long before pre-season starts again.
If we can start playing the rugby we are well capable of and equally and as important winning games, the moral of the club both on and off the pitch will be there for everybody to see. Hopefully we can retain the players that we have who have put so much effort in both at training and on a Saturday and all credit must go to them. This commitment is crucial for a successful campaign. If we can also bring some new players in, even better.
I believe we have excellent and a respected number of coaches who I am sure will be well up for the challenge next season. We also as noted have a good group of players both young and old or should I say experienced. The older heads like Ruaridh, Momo and Duncan will instil confidence and the younger ones will benefit from this. With a bit of cohesion, we can potentially be a team to be reckoned with.
Mention has been made in previous reports of the school boys who have made appearances this season and also achieved representative honours, deservedly so I would also pick out William Lockhart, Jamie McGurk, Freddie Roddick, Cameron Symes and Charlie Simonds who have risen to the occasion and certainly caught the eye and of course James Ferguson who is now becoming more of a veteran! Of course Tom Petiau and Josh Scott have done their bit by propping up the scrum where nobody knows what’s going except them.
I am sure Phil Waine will sum up proceedings in his normal eloquent way – Down Inverleith Way 38 ..once the season is finally concluded on Saturday.