2017/2018: Scottish National League One



A. Greig15C. Binnie
S. Murchie14A. Spowart
C. Symes13C. Lonergan
E. Morrison12C. Tucoulet
J. Ferguson11B. Addison
E. Bowen10A. Goudie (c)
C. Simmonds9J. Preston
J. Scott1S. Carson
C. Harrison2S. Usuda
(c) R. Mitchell3M. Scott
W. Malcolm4A. Barnett
J. Sword5D. Corbenici
F. Morrison6D. Ewing
R. Stewart7J. Sutherland
L. Scott8R. Angus
G. MacGregor16K. Chernick
T. Petiau17L. Mavunga
B. Dollery18S. Plumridge
J. McGurk19M. MacFarlane
F. Roddick20J. Edgar
Ferguson, Mitchell, L. ScottTryLonergan, Scott, Spowart, Sutherland, Usuda
BowenConGoudie (3)
Mr D. McClement


Three things surprised me on Saturday. The kick-off time being effectively at half time of the Ireland v Scotland Match, the fact the game was actually on given the weather conditions and in particular the state of the pitch and last but by no means least the quality of rugby on display. It was far from “stick it up the jumper” style as both teams tried their best to play rugby and for most parts succeeded. I think I’ve seen as many if not more dropped balls on a beautiful sunny dry day at Inverleith!

The game started in it’s usual frenetic way with GHA applying pressure with some good forward play and eventually releasing their back line moving the ball wide to score in the far corner with approximately 7 minutes played. The conversion was successful. Following the restart Stew Mel managed to get their hands on the ball at last, with Adam Greig leading the charge although this perceived advantage was short lived and ultimately lead to a knock on and scrum for GHA around the halfway line. GHA then managed to gain some more territory and from the resultant lineout driving runs by their burly front row forwards lead to another try at around the 15 minute mark. Stew Mel 0 GHA 14.

A similar pattern of play continued, after the restart and whilst GHA were keeping the ball in hand, when in possession Stew Mel unfortunately opted for the kicking game which lead to gifting GHA more possession and as a result they crossed the line once more at around the 25 minute mark bring the score to Stew Mel 0 GHA 19.

With approximately 30 minutes on the clock Ruairdh Mitchell found his way over after some good forward play bringing the score to Stew Mel 5 GHA 19.

The game was now reaching a bit more equilibrium in terms of possession and territory with both teams winning and losing lineouts in particular, Stew Mel were defending well under pressure and as a result of GHA unforced errors were able to exploit and illustrate some dominance in the set piece but again poor kicking, rather than leading to territorial advantage, resulted in GHA regaining possession and scoring just before half time. Stew Mel 5 GHA 24.

The stand and pitch were then temporarily evacuated as players and spectators disappeared presumably, players to change into some relatively dry clothing and spectators to grab a hot drink. There was, as a result, a rumour that the game had been abandoned due to the conditions (which may not have been a bad thing) however this was not to be and they reappeared and continued proceedings in a similar manner. From Stew Mel’s perspective there were better passages of play with some good hands and at last managed to get the ball wide to James Ferguson who had seen very little of the action up to this point. He was able to power his way over at around the 50 minute mark. Stew Mel 10 GHA 24.

This certainly instilled a degree of confidence and although we managed to retain possession for a short periods of time the cold hands and slippery ball ultimately meant it was GHA’s turn to have another go which they did scoring another try. Stew Mel 10 GHA 31. A very similar pattern of play, in reverse, came about with Stew Mel managing to get a third try at approximately 70 minutes played eventually bringing the final score to Stew Mel 17 GHA 31.

This was not the easiest match to report on due to a combination of the weather, failing eyesight and identifying the players towards the end. They all looked much the same with the exception of the variations in size and appeared as if as if they had just finished a Tough Mudder event. Mild hypothermia appeared to be affecting some, so I am sure it is not a day they all want to remember.

Whilst we did score trys (sorry couldn’t identify the third try scorer!) which is commendable, it is points we need and regrettably we came away with nothing on Saturday. Prior to this game if I had been given the choice of a Scotland win or a Stew Mel win I would have had no hesitation in hoping for the latter particularly given the divided loyalties in my household whenever Scotland play Ireland.

In summary the better team won and were impressive in the way they played both forwards and backs. Their backs appeared to have a structure and a clear game plan once in possession and their forwards provided them with good quick ball. In contract whilst our forwards did extremely well we seemed to lack ideas in the back line and again our kicking game was poor and in some case totally unnecessary. It is quite frustrating at times to try and understand why we had opted, during a number of good phases of play, to kick and in most cases either not finding the space, the touch line or gaining any territorial advantage, but merely giving the opportunity to the opposition to build their own attacks and take control of the game which they ultimately did for most part.

As the end of the season looms we still have 4 league games left and a cup game. I have said it before and I’ll say and again, all still to play for, but I am sure all the players are fully aware of the situation and regardless of what happens at the end of the season they should at least be satisfied that they have given everything for the cause in each and every game. It’s been a long road but we will know where our destination lies very soon. Next up another trip to the Borders, this time Selkirk. No reason why we cannot come away with some points – hopefully!

Author: Gav Calder, Stewart’s Melville RFC, Monday 12th March 2018

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