?Stewart’s Melville FP 5  GHA 66

Both sides approached this match with the realisation that recent reversals were having a serious effect upon player confidence. A beautiful autumnal day greeted all visitors to Inverleith. The pitch was perfect for running rugby and both sides seemed determined to play expansive attacking rugby.

GHA kicked off and the ball was cleared to halfway by Stewart’s Melville. From the resulting lineout possession Peter Jericevich and Andrew Goudie for the visitors ran the ball at the home side involving Ross Angus and Ross Findlay in a carefully orchestrated move. The empathy between GHA backs and forwards and interpassing between them was to give the homeside problems for the whole match. As in previous matches GHA forced the opposition back and from the resulting scrum on the home sides 5m line Peter Jericevich spun a beautiful loaded pass which was gleefully accepted by the hard running Ben Addison who put the ball between the posts.Three minutes gone and the score was :STEWART’S MELVILLE 0pts GHA 5pts. With the conversion the score now stood at STEWART’S MELVILLE 0pts  GHA 7pts.

The home side came back at GHA using their formidable second row as crash ball carriers in the middle and only some tenacious tackling by the visitors prevented a score.  However Stewart’s Melville worked hard to maintain the pressure on GHA continually changing the angle of attack and working hard in the loose to retain the ball and their momentum. With ten minutes gone second row Rappestad scored for the home side through good work in the loose. The score now stood at STEWART’S MELVILLE 5pts GHA 7pts.

Crucially  for GHA the try was not converted and there seemed to be a collective determination by the visitors to regain ascendancy in the match. From the restart Grant Mollison and Ross Angus with Scott Plumridge in support made a powerful break down the right side of the pitch however the ball went loose and the game flowed back and forth as both sides attempted to bring strike runners into play to find a way through stubborn defences. There was considerable agility and individual skill being shown by the GHA backs with effective support from the forwards. This was helping to swing the initiative towards the visitors. A classic example of this skill was a superb pick up by Grant Mollison from a deflected pass which took a tackle by Craig Davidson to prevent the visiting full back finding colleagues in a dangerous position. To their credit the home side defended bravely and several astute kicks to touch by Stewart Haggart relieved the pressure.

After fifteen minutes it was GHA who had to withstand repeated crash balls through the centre of the pitch and several scrums on the five metre line which could have seen the home side scoring but for excellent defence in the loose by GHA. A relieving kick by Grant Mollison up to half way gave the visitors the opportunity to attack Stewart’s Melville. A penalty to GHA for illegal entry to the loose after a great break by Ryan Jenkins gave the visitors the opportunity to increase their lead. However the penalty was not converted and it was the home side who sighed with relief that they had not gone further behind.

After twenty five minutes GHA were camped in the home sides half who showed signs of struggling to hold an increasingly inventive and confident visitors side. Several poor touch clearances increased the pressure on the home side to the audible groans from the local support. Stewart’s  Melville gave away several penalties in quick succession well inside their half for infringements in the loose. In one quick ball from Peter Jericevich released a galloping Grant Mollison who went over to score. The score was now: STEWART’S MELVILLE 5pts  GHA 12pts.

The try was not converted.  GHA clearly felt that they were gaining the ascendency and some excellent interpassing between forwards and backs and critically speedy recycling took the visitors on the half hour mark to a penalty under the posts. GHA ran the penalty and only  desperate tackling by the home side cleared the danger. Michael Scott  and Scott Plumridge  and Jamie Leslie were driving hard at the Stewart’s Melville defence and they gave away another penalty. The visitors elected to go for a scrum as it was increasingly clear that messrs Leslie Usuda and Scott ably supported by the rest of the pack were giving the home front row a torrid time. Indeed as we approached half time the scrum collapsed under GHA pressure. Despite this pressure GHA could not get the ball over the line to add to their score . HALF TIME: STEWART’S MELVILLE 5pts GHA 12pts.

There was a slight concern amongst the visiting support that first class team play had not engineered the points advantage it deserved.  Stewart’s Melville had shown in glimpses that they could be dangerous and it would take resolve and skill to keep GHA in front. The visitors quickly took the game to the home side and found themselves with a lineout in the twenty metre area. Accurate throwing by GHA resulted in a loose phase which allowed Seitaro Usuda to  score. A feature of this score was the close support he had as he went over. After six minutes of the restart the score was :STEWART’S MELVILLE 5pts GHA17pts.

Peter Jericevich added the two points for the conversion and GHA were now 17pts to 5pts in the lead.GHA now produced some sparkling whole team rugby. This side has worked very hard in training and in matches and until today had not really been able to finish moves with the precision required. Scrums were not being contested but this did little to affect the flow of the game. Excellent mis-passing and feints by Peter Jericevich and Andrew Goudie including some very long passes resulted in breaks by Ross Findlay and Ben Addison which the home side struggled to repel. With twelve minutes of the half gone GHA went further ahead through the ingenuity of Jonny Potter who broke down the wing to fly past the stretched home defence to score. Peter Jericevich converted the try. The score was now :STEWART’S MELVILLE 5pts GHA 26pts.

GHA were now breaking all over the pitch as the home side struggled to hold their game together. An incisive break from half way by James Edgar took him to the line where he was stopped only for Seitaro Usuda to go over from the resulting loose play. With the conversion the score now stood on the twenty minute mark as :STEWART’S MELVILLE 5pts GHA 33pts.

Incessant pressure from the visitors pushed the home side deep into their own twenty metre area and from recycled ball Peter Jericevich went over and converted his try. The score now stood at:STEWART’S MELVILLE 5pts GHA 40pts.

On the half hour mark a penetrating break by Scott Plumridge was stopped on the line by the home defence only for the quick thinking Scott to slip the ball to Andrew Spowart to score and this score was converted. The score now stood at:STEWART’S MELVILLE 5pts GHA 47.

Further scores by Andrew Spowart (twice) after bewildering breaks brought the score to :STEWART’S MELVILLE 5pts GHA 59pts.

With the final whistle approaching Andrew Goudie rounded off a high scoring day by scoring from a deft Peter Jericevich pass which was converted. FINAL SCORE: STEWART’S MELVILLE 5pts GHA 66pts.

This was an excellent performance by a young side who are growing in confidence. The interchanging of passing between forwards and backs and the general level of support paid dividends this day.

STEWART’S MELVILLE: S. Haggart C.Davidson D.Witko N.Bowie J.Ferguson S.Ross G.Porteus F.Hobbs C.Willis P.Dixon A.Rappestad J.Hodgson D.Wood S.Pattison J.Goldring. Reserves: C.Taylor J.Grant D.Devlin G.Henderson J.Calder

Scorers: T – Rappestad

GHA: G.Mollison J.Edgar B.Addison R.Findlay J.Potter A.Goudie P.Jericevich J.Leslie D.Ewing M.Scott R.Jenkins J.Auld S.Plumridge W.Graham R.Angus. Reserves: S.Usuda S.Carson G.MacDonald M.Houston A.Spowart

Scorers: T – Spowart (3), Usuda (2), Addison, Goudie, Hamilton-Potter, Jericevich, Mollison C – Jericevich (8)

Referee: Mr Graeme Ormiston
Assistant Referees: Mr Fergus Hollins,  Dr Digby Thomas.

On the adjacent field, GHA’s 2XV also recorded an excellent win over the Stewart’s Melville counterparts, winning 54-19.

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