Stuart Paton reporting from The Gytes
Saturday 16th October, Here we were at last, local derby day, and a crowd to be proud of. Biggar were in town to face The Mighty Pees! This game was massive for both clubs. Peebles had succumbed, to a nothing too special team at Rubislaw the previous week, and Biggar were desperate to beat their local rivals. As a result of last week’s defeat, Peebles had slid down the table, though l only to third place. A win was vital for Peebles pursuit of a top four finish, to make the league split, and defeat was unthinkable.
Peebles were boosted by the return of Paton at 8, Harvey at 4, Adam Clark at 3, and Smudger at 14. Unfortunately Borthwick was still unavailable due to Scottish Rugby League commitments again. However it was pretty much a full strength 15 and Dale Clancy and Euan Jackson made the line up despite last week’s injury doubts.
You could tell from the warm ups that both clubs were up for the battle, and a battle indeed it was to prove, with no prisoners being taken by either side. It could even be said, in hindsight, the Peebles 15 were perhaps too wound up to concentrate on their rugby, and, the baying crowd from both sides of the divide certainly added to a tense atmosphere
The Biggar players were even more wound u, as they prepared to chase their own kick off, which went straight to Jackson of Peebles who passed to Moore to find touch. After the lineout a ruck ensued and Biggar were penalised for diving in. This was to become a feature in this game.
Within 4 minutes the robust Davey P was rumbling up the park with the ball, and when he went to ground Peebles were penalised for not releasing the ball in the tackle. From the penalty Biggar put a massive kick to just outside the Peebles 22, chased up and took, only for a superb tackle by Clancy who put his Biggar opponent into touch.
Peebles then began on the attack, and Paton took on a crash ball making ground inside the Biggar 22, the ball was spun left, and then back inside to the right, only for Peebles to concede a penalty. Only 8 minutes had elapsed and the game was quite frantic. Jackson then had to be taken off for an injury, which hopefully is not serious, or one carried over, from last week’s encounter with Aberdeen. David Brown came on as a replacement.
Within 11 minutes Biggar had gained a 3 nil advantage from a penalty converted by Craig Parker. From the kick off Peebles lost ball, which they regained and made headway to halfway. From a lineout Peebles maintained possession and Biggar were penalised for not releasing Cruickshank in the tackle. A series of rucks were formed by Peebles in an attempt to make progress and this resulted in scrum half Moore kicking just over the try line for a ball to be chased and Biggar managed to touch down for a dropout 22.
Within 15 minutes Smudger found Paton, and the ref blew up, indicating that Peebles had carried the ball into touch. The crowd certainly did not agree and neither did the players who all then became embroiled in a wee dust up! Well it was a derby! And it was Biggar we were playing! As could be seen, when Brown smashed into a tackle from the restart!
Pees then began setting rucks and making progress up the park again, which resulted in Warnock feeding Clancy who fed Moore who knocked on, just as the crowd were getting rather excited to say the least. Then in 21 minutes came a massive blow for Peebles as No 8 Davey P went down with a serious arm injury, which could now see him out for up to 6 weeks, as a result of a dislocation. This could be a serious loss to Peebles as he has been playing fabulous rugby this season. Gutted for you DP.
As the game wore on, it became loose and a tad untidy, with Biggar beginning to dominate. Temita had now replaced Paton and was looking lively in his taking of the smash ball.
Within 25 minutes Biggar were looking really lively, and had some sustained pressure in the Peebles 22, but the rucking was very loose. Then Peebles conceded a penalty for Maclean holding on, and conceded a further ten yards for indiscipline. Biggar converted to go 6 nil up.
From then on until half time, the game became very scrappy with Biggar exerting a lot of pressure and a lot of ping pong from both teams, with no one finding touch, and Biggar setting up a series of rucks with Peebles having to defend en masse. As half time approached, it was all Biggar, and on the stroke of half time Peebles were penalised for going in at the side, right in front of the posts , and Biggar converted a penalty to take a 9 nil lead.
Stern words were dished out at half time by Gerry and Gary and straight from the kick off David Harvey took a great ball only to be pushed into touch
Peebles then began driving on in the mall, which set up a great move, which ended in what the ref construed to be a forward pass. The crowd very vocally disagreed!
As play progressed, Peebles then began exerting pressure, and Warnock fed Rhino, who was in for a try, the crowd went tonto! Then the ref blew his whistle to disallow the try! Apparently Rhino, in a rush of blood, on seeing the line dropped the ball. The partisan crowd were sure there was downward pressure!! How gutted we were! Rhinos are however renowned for their poor eyesight!
Peebles continued to pressurise Biggar, and finally, as they were going forward, the ref noticed the Biggar 6 coming in from the side, for the umpteenth time, and yellow carded him. Peebles kicked to the corner from the penalty and got the 5 yard lineout required. A rolling maul from the lineout, and Adam Clark picked from the back of the ruck at the breakdown, and in he went. Boohoo to The Pees! Which turned to boohoo, when Warnock missed the conversion! Peebles 5 Biggar 9
The game then became a scrap for a while, with aerial ping pong, and missed kicks to touch. Temita then took the ball up, set it up for Drew Moore, who passed to Mclean and play finally broke down when Maclean kicked on for Biggar to touch down for a 22 drop out.
Following this, Biggar made a fabulously brilliant hash of the 22 drop out! Peebles won a scrum from the shambles; Moore picked up from the back, and fed Warnock who put Cruickshank in. More tonto from the crowd ensued, as the conversion was in front of the posts and Warnock does not miss from there. Peebles 12 Biggar 9
A series of mauls and rucks then ensued from both sides as the game became all out war. It wasnae bonnie stuff for sure, but we were winning now!
As the half progressed, there was nothing in it and both teams struggled to make progress, but Peebles did now look the most likely team to win. Then, just as Biggar were exerting pressure on the 22 disaster for Peebles struck, when they conceded a penalty for holding on right in front of the posts. Biggar converted and it was 12 apiece. This was not for the faint hearted at all. Well, actually, I think mine had stopped beating by now!
5 minutes remained, the crowd were tense, and the players were even tenser. Peebles expected, and Peebles got! Biggar conceded a penalty. Up stepped Warnock, he shoots and he converts! Bedlam and tonto aplenty! We had done it! But god we did it the hard way! and gonnae no put us through that again!
Overall a fabulous result, in a game that could have gone either way, we are third in the league, conceding the least amount of points in the table, but also with the least amount of bonus points for!
GHA next week, is again a must win game, and then we have the local derby that is The Pees and The Paelmerks, who are currently scoring for fun. Here hope we can make the top 4. It would be gutting if we don’t, and lose out as a result of bonus points. I am all for bonus points if you score four tries or even score 4 in defeat, but never if you fail to score four and also lose but are within seven points of your opponents. Winners should take all, losers nothing. Here is hoping the SRU perhaps re examine this
See you all in Glasgow next week, Gary and Gerry’s army are marching onwards and upwards!