1st XV - Report
EK beat 2nd placed GHK and stay third
EK proved a thorn in the side of GHK once again, winning by one point in a tight match. EK were the better side overall and deserved the victory
Coach Steel shuffled his backs with Scott Shankie starting at stand off, Calum Simpson playing in the centre, shifting centre Ian Brown on to the wing, while picking Robbie Greenfield at full back. Calum Hastie and Chris Mclellan returned as props.
Much of the match was played between the twenty two metre lines, with only rare incursions into the red zone at either end. EK took the lead in the 11th minute, through a Scott Shankie penalty f0llowing a strong run by winger Craig Ferguson. Score 3-0.
GHK drew level after 19 minutes when EK were penalised for not releasing the ball at the breakdown. The EK forwards were playing well, stealing a few lineout throws and driving powerfully in the loose. Concerns about possible weaknesses at scrum time proved fruitless, with the EK eight looking solid and secure.
GHK took the lead after 24 minutes through another penalty, 3-6. The only other event worthy of mention was a blast by EK’s Ian Brown, playing on the right wing.
Ian Brown is EK’s most potent attacker so my view is that we don’t get the full benefit of his considerable talent playing him on the wing, not least as EK seldom managed to pass the ball along the back line. So Brown did not see as much of the ball as we might wish. But who am I to question Coach Steel’s approach!
In truth not a lot happened in the half. The highlight was when one of the EK support got verbally excited with one or two of the GHK supporters about aspects of the on field action but handbags were not flourished and it all blew over with the half time break approaching. Half time: EK 3, GHK 6.
EK were playing with a good deal of confidence, to the extent that they got themselves in a number of self inflicted muddles trying to run the ball from their half, when it seemed more sensible, against the strong GHK backline, to kick the ball deep and make them attack from long distance. The EK defence was strong with effective tackling.
EK pressure in the 60th minute saw Ian Brown charging up the right wing, linking with Calum Aiken and when the ball was recycled, stand off Scott Shankie blasted over for an excellent try from 10 metres, which he converted to make the score EK 10, GHK 6. GHK were suffering from injuries and EK’s stern defence.
From a GHK clearance kick in the 70th minute, Shankie made a superb break through the GHK cover only to pass the ball behind centre Calum Simpson. Had the ball gone to hand, a try seemed inevitable but it was encouraging to see Shankie look so dangerous.
Young prop Calum Hastie was substituted with Craig Ferguson Junior returning to the fray after a 10 minute breather spell. Calum Aiken took over in the front row.
EK went off their feet at a ruck after 37 minutes allowing GHK to kick a penalty and narrow the gap to only one point, 10-9 for EK. GHK were desperately trying to create a breakthrough but none was forthcoming.
Unaccountably the 2nd half seemed to go on for some 48 minutes, which made for a rather nervy finale for the EK support. But EK managed to hold on to their lead and were deserved victors. The foundation for the victory lay in the forwards, with all ten players (including the substitutes) showing great application and growing confidence.
The match completed the first half of the league programme. EK are third (of ten), and coach Allan Steel can feel pretty satisfied with this. We have won six games, lost three and two of the losses were games that EK might have won. Offered this at the start of the season, we would have been very happy. So well done to all the coaching staff and players.
While we have not scored as many points as some of the teams in the upper echelons of the league (only 150 points), we have the second best defensive record. And an excellent team spirit, with Captain Gareth Jones leading by example. We have only two bonus points (both for scoring 4 tries) - something we can hope to improve on in the second half of the league campaign.
Man of the Match: With relatively little free flowing action, the Man of the Match had to come from the forwards. Chris Mclellan, Calum Hastie, Chris O’Neill, Calum Aiken, Stevie Lannon and Captain Gareth Jones all put their hands up for the award but it goes to lock Craig Ferguson Junior. Craig grafted well all day, won some vital lineouts and is beginning to look somewhat fitter. So well done Craig!
Next Match: the Autumn Internationals for the next three weeks mean that the league programme takes a temporary break. The 1st XV's next match is not now until 1 December, away to Irvine, with a 2pm kick off.
Let’s hope the players use this period to increase their fitness, and also perhaps allows us to field a 2nd XV with rather less of the recent scrambles to try to find 18 fit and available players.
The 2nd XV next play on Saturday 17 November, at home to West of Scotland 2As, with a 12 noon kick off due to the Scotland v South Africa international at Murrayfield.
Team: 15. Robbie Greenfield; 14. Ian Brown; 13. Calum Simpson; 12. Grant Seymour; 11. Fat but now Slimmer Craig Ferguson; 10. Scott Shankie; 9. Fraser Little; 8. Gareth Jones (Captain); 7. Chris O’Neill; 6. Calum Aiken; 5 Stevie Lannon; 4. Craig Ferguson Junior; 3. Chirs Mclellan; 2. Rian Anderson; 1. Calum Hastie. Replacements: Stewart Kampman; Andy MacDonald; Daniel McQueen; Stephen Millar.