Match Reports from an Anonymous Contributor                                                       27/11/2021

For spectators, an afternoon of fluctuating emotion. For the neutral an exciting game albeit littered with mistakes from both sides. For the RBG travelling support an experience tinged with more than a frisson of tension and questions of “what next?!”. For the extremely vociferous home stand ultimate disappointment no doubt tempered by the feeling that the game had been taken right to the wire.

The match kicked off in bright, blustery but cold conditions on the pristine New Anniesland pitch but, as the old euphemism goes, Stew Mel forgot to get off the bus. Within 5 minutes, Accies had raced into a 14-0 lead with two converted tries and, although well constructed, one has to question the defensive alignment and aggression in the tackle from the sleepy visitors.

Thankfully, slowly but surely, SM found a way back into the contest and began to gain some ascendancy although an aggressive Glasgow defence at the breakdown caused a number of turnovers which, in turn, prevented the strived for continuity. However, a couple of dominant scrums and some successful driven line-outs allowed Kyle Henderson and then Brendan Scott to cross for scores the first of which Happy converted.  The latter try was perhaps the most pleasing of the afternoon when good inter passing between forwards and backs finally allowed the ball to be spread wide to give Brendan a clear run into the corner.

Still 2 points down but looking more in control, the game saw SM gain some territorial dominance and threaten the Anniesland team with some consistent pressure. It was no surprise, therefore, when Willie Malcolm broke away from the resultant maul off a driven line-out to cross the line almost unopposed. Happy failed to convert but for the fist time the RBH were ahead. However, there were some worrying signs as the half-time whistle approached - the almost now expected scrum dominance had not materialised (indeed on several occasions it was under pressure) and the line-out, although a potent attacking weapon, failed to function successfully on too many occasions. Accies were competing ferociously at the breakdown and their backs looked dangerous given the opportunity. A game in the balance!

Half-time:  Glasgow Accies 14           Stewart’s Melville  17

For a good proportion of the second half Stewart’s Melville dominated both in possession and territory but disappointingly spurned a number of opportunities to score and take control of the match. Eventually, replacement big Rhu Mitchell was fed the ball close to the line and, despite the valiant efforts of 3 defenders clinging desperately to his back, he crashed over for a try that Happy converted from in front of the posts. A 10 point advantage and perhaps the hint of a gap in the score which the Accies might find difficult to close.

However, nobody told the men from Glasgow! From their first serious visit into the Stew Mel 22 in the second half they scored a close range, converted try courtesy of their forwards. Back to a 3 point difference and all to play for. Almost inexplicably, or so it appeared from the touchline, the RBG took the restart and then stood back and watched the ball being moved wide for a jubilant Anniesland man to cross the line without a hand being laid on by the opposition. Predictably it was turned into a 7 pointer - suddenly back to a deficit (of 4 points) and an energised home support baying for blood.

With 12 minutes to go could Stew Mel respond? In an excellent piece of leadership, Jamie Sword rallied his men under the posts and in no uncertain terms laid down the law. The Accies line was again put under siege and eventually Scott Aldritt managed to spin out of 3 tackles and touch down for what turned out to be the winning try.

For the last few minutes the Glasgow team pounded the Stew Mel line (ignoring a chance to kick a penalty for a draw) but a resolute defence held firm and a penalty award was dispatched to touch with some joy for a narrow victory.

Full time:  Glasgow Accies   28          Stewart’s Melville   31

Not a vintage Inverleith performance but Glasgow Accies proved to be more than worthy opponents. Probably, on the balance of play over the full 80 minutes, a narrowly deserved victory but some important lessons to be learnt for future matches.

Much credit must be given for showing the grit and determination to come back from a damaging early 14 point deficit and then to muster the fortitude to score a 5th try when the Accies retook the lead in the latter stages of the game. The rock solid defence at the death as the Glasgow men threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at the RBG line is also worthy of mention.

Congratulations to Connor Lane for making his 1st XV debut, and it was good to see Danny Morrison and Scott Aldritt re-joining the fray from the bench in the second half after recovering from lengthy injuries. Hopefully, the thumb problem which caused scrum-half Fraser Strachan to leave the pitch in the second half is not too serious.

Apologies if detail is a little thin but your scribe spent much of this tense affair watching through his fingers!

Next week sees another trip to Glasgow for the start of the second half of the league with the return fixture against Whitecraigs. It will have escaped nobody’s attention that they defeated Peebles on Saturday!

Meanwhile, the Development XV played Boroughmuir at Meggatland. They started brightly kicking a penalty through Jack Pennell who then proceeded to score all Stew Mel’s points in the first half with another penalty and a try. Boroughmuir were a young well-drilled team and themselves scored two tries and one conversion to lead narrowly at half-time.

Half time:  Boroughmuir   12   Stewart’s Melville   11

The RBG played much better in the second period and scored 4 tries. Three from Scott Murchie, Ben Dollery and Scott Young and one from a penalty try awarded in the last play of the game.

A strong scrum, an efficient line out maul and greater bulk allowed Stew Mel to finally pull away from determined opponents. A special mention to Adam Howie who returned to the colours after recovering from a long term knee injury.

Full time:  Boroughmuir   12   Stewart’s Melville   33