Stewarts/Melville 29pts Hillhead 18pts
In a very entertaining RBS Premier 2 game at Inverleith, hosts Stewarts/Melville defeated a plucky “Hills” side by two goals and three tries to three tries and one penalty goal to consolidate their pole position in the race for the top four places at the Autumn league split. Yet, after a nervous start when they conceded possession all too easily, the “Hills” came back into it by virtue of the outstanding play of their scrum half, Haddon McPherson. If he was not dancing away from the base of a scrum, then he was darting through on loose opposition line out ball to take his team forward, and, fittingly, McPherson scored the first try of the game when he picked up at the base of an attacking ruck to plunge over the try line from close range. He missed the conversion, and slowly the home team made their way back into the game, helped at times by the “Hills” inability to clear their lines effectively. The hosts were not long in replying with their dangerous back three runners combining well to create their first try which was easily converted. Depressingly for the “Hills”, their restart routine and follow up was poor, allowing Stewarts/Melville to charge virtually unopposed back into the twenty two and touch down. With the loss of fourteen points in ninety seconds, the momentum of the game had swung dramatically, but the visitors steadied and fought back well with their captain, Donald Pitkethly, prominent in ball carrying. Inexplicably, however, an opportunity to kick a penalty from fifteen metres in front of the posts was refused with a scrum being chosen instead which the “Hills” pack contrived to lose. But the “Hills” continued to play the game in their opponents twenty two, and it was that man McPherson, who again unlocked the Inverleith defence, with a sniping run in which he evaded at least three Stewarts/Melville defenders and his own two man overlap outside him to score a wonderful individual try. At fourteen-ten down, the “Hills” were back in the hunt, but in a game which fluctuated dramatically, the incisiveness of the home backs carved out an opening for the final try of the half, when “Hills” had been reduced to fourteen men, centre Ally Wright having been yellow carded.
The second half began with “Hills” on the attack, and McPherson kicking a penalty goal, but the continuity play of Stewarts/Melville began to extend “Hills” and they could do little to halt their hosts’ fourth and bonus point try. At twenty four to thirteen points down, “Hills” looked out of it, but their willingness to run from deep inside their own half paid a fine return when Stuart Howie, who had a very prominent second half, determined to attack. His brave response was carried on by left winger, Andy Leslie, who took the play deep into the home twenty two, and seconds later “super sub”, Chris Butler, touched down in the left hand corner to take his side within six points of the opposition’s score. At this stage, the game could have gone either way but Stewarts/Melville upped their workrate to pound the “Hills” line, and eventually they recorded their fifth try. With time running out, “Hills” attempted desperately to respond, but hard as they tried they found the Stewarts/Melville defence impregnable, and were unable to add their season’s haul of bonus points. Referee Malcolm Gray’s final whistle brought to an end what had been a fine advert for club rugby in RBS Premier 2.
On Saturday the 29th October, the penultimate game of the first eleven is played at Hughenden with a 15.00 hours kick-off against Selkirk.
Hills” 1st XV – Stuart Howie, Daniel Osugo , Will Marshall, Ally Wright ( Chris Butler ) , Andy Leslie , Johnny Byrne-Leitch, Haddon McPherson, Paul Sheerin , Joe Stafford , Will Goulden , Douglas Wood , Jonny Agnew ( David Fisken ) , Donald Pitkethly ( C ), Matthew Bottarini ( Douglas Grove ) and Douglas Crichton . Subs Corey Buchan