Stewart's Melville FP 41 Selkirk 36 (Sat. Oct. 13th)

(Report from Stew/Mel website)

A score line of 41-36 is going to raise a few eyebrows and questions amongst those who didn't witness the spectacle that was round 7 of the league at Inverleith. Those that did witness it probably pulled most of their eyebrows out during the course of the match! The parting line in the team talk before kick off was to "make a statement" - this was certainly a statement, although arguably in the rugby equivalent of Double Dutch.
0-13 to Selkirk after 10 minutes had seen some poor tackling and indiscipline gift the Wilkinsonesque Liam Cassidy two shots at goal which he made no mistake with, followed by an interception try which was run in under the posts. Stew Mel regathered themselves, however, with Moran kicking 2 penalties after missing an earlier opportunity. Following the restart, we regained possession and started putting some phases together, with some good ball carrying from Craig Joiner and Pete McLean. The Selkirk defence was well organised, though, and fanned out well in the wider channels, forcing Stew Mel to bring the forwards in round the fringes to try and pull the Selkirk defenders in before spreading the ball wide.

We didn't quite get the accuracy right in this area, and another wave of foolish infringements saw us back in our own half and Cassidy once again punishing us with his metronomic boot. It was these infringements that were most frustrating, as we practically handed Selkirk the points. I fancy the video nasty will pick out the culprits, so will not go into too much naming and shaming in this report. Suffice to say that the concentration levels were unacceptable, and this lack of discipline will cost us dearly if it occurs again. Again, though, to the side's credit, they fought back, and better accuracy with the aforementioned tactics allowed the ball to be spun through the backs; Richard Borthwick then broke through the line and surged towards the try line to put us back in the game, with Moran adding the extras for a 13-16 turnaround.

It would be fair to say that nobody was happy with the first half, from players to coaches to crowd, but no one would have expected the explosion of scoring that came in the second half. Stew Mel started the second half with much better efficiency in the use of tactics, with Rob Primrose and Craig Marshall making good use of both forwards and backs to take play into the Selkirk 22. We sustained this pressure well, creating a try for Blair Tweedie as he was driven over under a bundle of bodies near the posts. The referee was ideally positioned to award the try as the bundle unravelled, and Moran again added the extras to take us into the lead at 20-16.

At this point in the game, the stage looked set for the home side to push on in a similar manner to last week, but, again, discipline let us down, and we committed the cardinal sin of giving points away almost straight after the restart, as Cassidy stroked over another long ranger. Borthwick had other ideas, though, galvanising his side with another scintillating break on the Selkirk 10 metre line minutes later, leaving the Selkirk cover chasing shadows in his wake as he carved through the midfield for his second touch down. His hat trick came a minute later with a try that was virtually a carbon copy. Again, with space opening up in the midfield, he scythed through the Selkirk defence, who simply had no answer to the raw pace and power.

With the bonus point in the bag, one sensed this was game over, but, to their credit, Selkirk came back, showing why they have enjoyed a good start to the season. They ended up pushing Stew Mel back to their own goal line, aided by more poor concentration from the home team, who lost possession at a series of set pieces and continued to have lapses of discipline on the offside line, chasing the game when they would have been better off letting Selkirk force the issue. After a couple of drives from the lineout, Selkirk were awarded a scrum on our 5 metre line, and their tactical substitution in the front row yielded instant dividends in the form of a push over try which Cassidy converted. He then followed this with another long range penalty that brought Selkirk right back into the game. Added to this, Pete McLean was sent to the sin bin for repeated infringing - which was probably fair, on the balance of play.

The game was on, once again, and a fairly frantic last 10 minutes ensued as Selkirk sensed an opportunity to win. Fortunately, Stew Mel did not sit back and try and hold out, but took play into the Selkirk half from the restart. Moran spotted the home defence racing up from inside their 22 and put in a deft kick, over the top, into the dead ball area, which Craig Marshall gratefully dived upon to restore the breathing space. Selkirk still refused to lie down, though, and came back again at the death to score another try and give the Stew Mel faithful further palpitations, before Moran hoofed the ball into touch for the final act of the game.
In summing up, we made this difficult for ourselves (an understatement - probably of the season) and need to play with greater control and discipline to put sides like this away. On the plus side, the bonus point was secured thanks to some stellar play from the captain, who is starting to look like he owns the number 13 jersey, and, again, the spirit and character of the team shone through against a plucky Selkirk outfit who did the double on us last year.