Peebles 15 - 17 Aberdeen Grammar
29 August 2009
Tom Haywood reports from the Gytes
This was the first game of the Scottish Hydro season for Peebles, and they were hoping to make a good impression. With a few new players including kiwis Steve Gee and Matt Thompson, and Fraser Strachan from Currie, Peebles were looking to start the season strongly. Peebles needed to play well to ensure that they got off on the right foot for this season’s Hydro Electric premier 2.
Autumnal wind sprang into action as the match kicked off, with the wind making the Aberdeen Grammar kick off difficult, but also causing them to regain the possession after a dead ball from a long punt downfield. Peebles soon managed to regain the ball though, and pushed forward, on a strong attack. They looked to be the stronger side, but when it was time for Peebles to go on the defence, they didn’t cope well. Within a minute of pressure Aberdeen made a break. Neil Hogarth succeeded in tackling the breaking player, but an offload led to Aberdeen’s winger, Colin Philips, scoring. This difficult conversion from the corner was missed. Soon after, Peebles got their first points of the match up on the board, with a penalty kick by debutant fullback Steve Gee from in front of the posts. Peebles got pushed back into their own half again, then their ten metre line, and soon after that into their twenty-two. The Peebles’ defence was very slow, and it was taking them a long time to set their defensive line. Peebles managed to relieve the pressure with a kick up to the Aberdeen ten metre line, but they were just forced back.
Ryan McConnell and Adam Clark, were substituted off, and Trevor Keen and Neil Clark came on for them. Soon after Peebles were back on the attack, only just missing out on a drive over try as it was held up. Peebles were given another five metre penalty, after an illegal scrum by Aberdeen. Peebles passed the ball back inside the line, and after some good team work, Trevor Keen managed to dive in through the defence into the corner to score Peebles’ first try. Unfortunately for Peebles, Steve Gee just missed the difficult conversion. Shortly after this, it appeared that Donald Anderson had injured himself badly, and after a few minutes was helped by the physio to limp off pitch. Darren Kerr came on for him. Steve Gee moved up from Full Back to Fly Half, while Darren Kerr took his position at the back. Peebles were back on the attack rapidly though, not letting this incident faze them, and after repeated scrum infringements by the opposing side, a penalty try was awarded. This easy kick was converted by Steve Gee. In the last minute, an altercation broke out down at the Peebles end, and this resulted in Trevor Keen and his opposite number getting sin binned in the last minute. It looked as if Aberdeen were going to take advantage to get back some points in the last minute of the half, but Peebles managed to recover possession, and clear to safety, to summon the interval with Peebles leading 15 points to 5.
Peebles had managed to hang onto their lead, but if they let their concentration slip, Aberdeen looked ready to snatch back any points that appeared for them. It looked like Peebles had a good chance for staying in the lead, as they had a penalty awarded within a minute of the kick off, in front of the Aberdeen Grammar posts. This was missed, and a valuable three points lost. Aberdeen didn’t let this moments respite go to waste, and attacked. They ran, and rucked their way up into the Peebles twenty-two. On many occasions they came within a metre of a try, and the defensive effort looked hopeless. But the Peebles defence managed to hold its own though, even when the Aberdeen side had a four to two man overlap on the wing, the defence managed to bring down the offensive players. Aberdeen threw away an easy three points, when they were given a penalty in front of the Peebles posts. One of their players reacted badly to the offending Peebles’ player, and thus the decision was reversed.
Peebles won another penalty shortly after this incident, and took it quick. The attack managed to get up to halfway before they were caught by Aberdeen defenders. Darren Kerr was injured in the sixtieth minute, and after a few minutes play resumed, with Willie Aitkin and Donald Anderson, appearing to be recovered after an injury of his own, coming back on. Aberdeen finally got the try they so desperately needed. It came from winger Strelow, and was converted to bring them within two points of Peebles, at 15 to 13.
Aberdeen had ten minutes to score three points, to take them into the lead, but they only needed three of them. They got these in another try, scored by centre Nelson, but the conversion however, was missed. Peebles needed to get any points they could, dropkick, penalty, or a try, in the last five minutes to win. But they didn’t have enough momentum, and Aberdeen succeeded in holding the side back, using chips, grubbers and punts. Peebles made one last break, and managed to get into the Aberdeen Grammar half, but it was not enough, and Aberdeen won back the ball, and kicked it out of play to end the match 17-15 to Aberdeen.
It had been a tough game for both sides, with the close score at the end indicating what a close game it had been. The Aberdeen backs were that little bit faster with fluid ball handling skills that proved the difference at the end. It did give coaches and players a good chance to reflect on what needs improving in their side, and what is already good. By the next couple of matches, both sides should be fitter, and stronger, and it looks as if it will be a good season, as last year was.
Meanwhile in a hastily re-arranged fixture, Peebles 2nds were beaten by Duns 1sts at Duns, whilst the Colts suffered a large defeat at the hands of Melrose Wasps when the succumbed by 50 points to 12 at Melrose in the Lochcarron Border Semi Junior League.