Peebles Vs. Stewarts Melville, Pre-Season Friendly

Peebles comeback to win.
22 August 2009

Tom Haywood reports from the Gytes
In a pre-season friendly that wowed spectators, the outcome could not have been closer. With a recently promoted Stewarts Melville side, that left Peebles just a point behind last season; Peebles were looking to prove that they had what it takes to get promoted this season.

As the day dawned, the weather could not have been better, with the clouds opening to let the sun through for the first time in days. It shone down upon the rugby club open day at the Gytes, with a Barbeque, bouncy castle, and most important of all, Rugby Matches. These kicked off with a mini’s game, followed up by a fast paced Under 16’s game. Then it was the turn of the first team. This was a game of three 30 minute sessions to enable the squad players to get some pre season match practice. This included the new Peebles’ lock Matt Thomson and scrum half Fraser Strachan. The first session kicked off with an easy first try for Stewarts Melville straight from the kick off. Stewarts Melville had the upper hand through all of the first third after this, and within ten minutes had scored another try as their forwards drove over. The conversion was missed to leave them twelve points in the lead. Peebles stepped up their game, and pushed up field with the ball. It seemed like Peebles were building up for a try, but just as it looked like they were starting to come back, a knock on led to Stewarts Melville breaking through the Peebles line, and scoring a try. This was followed up by a conversion by the Stewarts Melville centre. Stewarts Melville kept up the pressure on Peebles right up to the end of the first session, and by the end it wasn’t looking good for Peebles.

Peebles kicked off the second session, and gave possession straight to Stewarts Melville. Peebles were soon pushed back into their own half, and within 2 minutes of the kick off, Stewarts Melville had a five metre lineout. The Peebles defence stood strong for five minutes, but in the end the pressure proved too much, and they cracked giving away a penalty in front of the posts. Stewarts Melville opted to run it, and this paid off as the forwards used their strength to drive over and score their fourth try. Peebles needed to make a move soon, or they would have no chance of getting back into the game in time.

And that is exactly what they did. Peebles pushed forward from the whistle, and shortly had a penalty in front of the posts. They chose for a kick to touch, earning themselves a five metre lineout. Peebles kept attacking, and were awarded a penalty again, which they kicked to touch yet again. They got rewarded a third penalty, which in a repeat of the past two penalties, they opted to boot it to touch. A fourth penalty soon after, gave Peebles the chance of more attacking play, with Neil Hogarth taking a decision to take it quickly. He managed to dive through the defence and score. This was converted by full back Donald Anderson. Within a minute of this score, after an offload from a break made by the Peebles’ backs, Neil Hogarth scored again. As with Stewarts Melville’s second try, this difficult kick was not converted. Peebles kept on attacking, and made another break, but this time were tackled short of the line. Stewarts Melville, attempted to get back into their scoring groove, and almost succeeded, but a yellow card for their no. 16 stopped that. In the last play of the second session, Neil Hogarth made a break for what looked like his hat trick try, but was tripped just as he started. However, James Oakes didn’t let his team mate’s move be wasted, and picked up the ball, to run fifty metres to score the third try.

Peebles needed one more try to draw level, but this seemed in jeopardy, when Stewarts Melville came back after the break, to press the attack. A group of Peebles players managed to drag the attacking player into touch before he could score. After this Peebles no. 7 Donald Sangster was sin binned, and their chances of winning, and even drawing looked slimmer and slimmer. But all of the sudden, out of the blue, a perfect kick, a lucky bounce, and James Oakes was in to score and draw level. Peebles kept up the attack after the kick off, desperate to win against the side that had cost them promotion last year. Finally, after many good attempts by the Peebles pack, David Paton succeeded in driving over to score, to take them into the lead. Now all they had to do was hold on to their lead. Stewarts Melville knew this as well, and they went on one last attack. The pressure was on Peebles now, to hold off Stewarts Melville for the last ten minutes of the game. It went down to the last play, with Stewarts Melville giving away a penalty on the Peebles five metre line, to end the match.

This game was so close, and with such a great comeback by Peebles that if this was a sign of this season, it is a season of games not to miss.