Stuart Paton at The Gytes
Peebles lined up for their first game after the split against West of Scotland at The Gytes in their change of strip. It was a cold and somewhat windy day with blinding bright sunlight. Though even that could not put the West strips in the shade! Our first game at home against Premiership opposition had brought a reasonable crowd down, who were wondering how we would fare against a top class side. No need to worry though, as it was soon to be shown that there is very little difference between the lower end of the Premiership 1 and Premiership 2.
Due to the change of clocks, and a certain one sided international due to be televised later in the day, the kick off was brought forward to 2pm
The opening ten minutes were a pretty tense and error strewn affair, with West putting plenty pressure on the Pees, but being forced into making many mistakes. Within 12 minutes West conceded a penalty under pressure from Peebles and Warnock converted from around 30 meters to give Peebles a 3 nil lead
As the game progressed into a series of rucks and mauls created by both sides, it was clearly visible that West were playing to the ref, and going in at the side at every opportunity, and getting away with it. Annoying as it may be for the opposition, a team will continue this ploy, if they know they can and will get away with it, until such time as the referee takes note and penalises you. Of no assistance was the assistant referees not being wired up to the referee!
Donald Anderson put in a superb kick to be chased, but unfortunately for Peebles it went too far, and a 22 drop out was conceded. Thereafter, as Peebles pressurised, a promising kick resulted in a lineout five yards out, which Peebles won, and saw the ball spun out for some great passing play, which ended when Anderson knocked on.
West then came back at Peebles, and won a scrum 5, which resulted in Peebles being penalised for holding onto the ball, which they had won. It is rather difficult though to release the ball when the tackler is wrapping you up. Silly old me though! I always thought the tackler had to roll away!!!!
The game proceeded from end to end with nothing much on offer from both sides, and dare I say it, became a very dour and scrappy encounter. Then West swept up the park, after a Clancy kick that went straight out from some sustained Peebles pressure. Some poor Peebles tackling then let in West on the wide right which was converted, and gave West a 7-6 lead at half time
From the second half kickoff Peebles looked more up for the challenge, and when the West hooker was finally sin binned, Peebles found touch from the resulting penalty, and commenced a rolling maul from the lineout. Rhino flopped over the line to give Peebles an 11-7 lead. Warnock missed the conversion though.
As play progressed Peebles started another rolling maul, which was initially started by the new slimline Shanon Temita, who rumbled up the park. The ball was then released to Dale Clancy as West came in from offside again, and Peebles were awarded a penalty. On came 'T Boy Paton' to the aid of Warnock, who duly converted to give Peebles a 14-7 lead.
West then exerted some pressure of their own, in a scrum 30 yards from Peebles line, which Peebles collapsed to concede a penalty. West converted to make it 14-10 Peebles
Then Peebles took the game by the scruff of the neck, and some great play saw Willie Aitken tearing through the West defence, like New Zealand through Lamont, Lamont and Southwell !! The former was pleasurable, the latter caused great pain later! However, Willie made it under the posts, and Warnock converted to make it Peerless 24 West 10. Game over we thought!... Eh!...No! West started one helluva fightback, which left the crowd with no fingernails, and poor Borth nearly throwing his crutches on the pitch!
West rucked and mauled their way up the park, the ball was spun right and a try resulted from Horner, with a fantastic conversion from Davis making it 24-17.
Scott Raeburn came on for Dave Brown for Peebles. West came straight back at Peebles, as the game came to its conclusion, and put severe pressure for a sustained period on the Peebles defence by continuing with rucking and mauling. At one stage, they thought they had scored, but Peebles held them up. The Peebles tackling was ferocious, then West were awarded another scrum 5, and as Peebles went down to the scrum, they were penalised for boring in. West took another scrum and touched down to make it 24-22 to Peebles with an easy conversion to come. Things were not looking good! Then 'The Bratpack' ran en masse,! as Davis stepped up to convert, sufficiently enough to put him off! Great work boys! Nae luck West! Final whistle Peebles 24 West 22!
In all honesty this was a gritty performance by Peebles. Jackson at scrum half had a great game, and Shannon is looking much sharper and fitter. The youngsters are bedding in well. Though it has to be said both our wingers can get sucked in quite easily leaving overlaps at times.
West were quite poor, and hopefully this win will give us confidence, as we must up our game for Edinburgh Accies, who will be seeking revenge for our brilliant win over them earlier this season. A fabulous result against the first of our Premiership teams. One game at a time, who knows what could happen in this league. Somehow I do not think we will be too far away at the end of the season