1st XV - Report
EK put up strong fight against unbeaten leaders Marr
EK lost today to Marr, runaway leaders of West 1, by 17-32. The score does not quite reflect the match, but Marr proved the more efficient and clinical team. They held an early lead and despite good EK pressure, held out to get the try bonus at the death
That said, EK had a terrible start where they did little right – a knock on, kick out on the full, soft penalties for avoidable side entry at rucks and handling the ball in the scrum, and wayward tackling on the few occasions when Marr moved forward. In the first 16 minutes, EK did not have any cohesion and provided two platforms for Marr to score two soft tries from set pieces via the right wing. Score: 0-14.
Early exchanges were a bit messy as both sides were unable to hold on to the ball in the backs. But the rest of the half was dominated by EK, with Calum Aitken, Paul Rosie and Scott Shankie prominent.
A good attack by EK forwards and backs saw EK win a penalty after 21 minutes, which full back Shankie kicked (3-14). Three minutes later lock Rosie made a half-break on the charge, the ball was recycled and stand off Greenfield almost stumbled his way in to making a break. Recycling allowed left winger Fat but Slimmer Now Craig Ferguson to batter over for a try in the right corner. Good play. Score (no conversion): 8-14.
EK were making half breaks but lack of support and/or composure prevented them from capitalising. A series of strange decisions (or non-decisions) by the referee following a scrum on half way saw EK eventually under pressure, and turned the ball over. A penalty was conceded so the score was 8-17 leaving the bulk of the crowd scratching their head.
Shankie, after his heroic kicking last week, missed a penalty after 34 minutes but redeemed himself two minutes later by kicking an excellent penalty when Marr deliberately wheeled a scrum. Score: 11-17, which was the score at the break.
EK reflected on how they had been the better team for 24 minutes but had not demonstrated the calm efficiency to capitalise upon it. At that stage, Calum Aitken was the stand out player for EK, with a series of strong forward drives, well supported in the tight by the indefatigable Paul Rosie, with Scott Shankie looking good in the backs.
EK started the second half positively, with Marr again looking hesitant on the backfoot. That said, Marr were unlucky when a penalty attempt bounced off the bar and clear, which would have been hard on EK after a great tackle by Rosie. Jones charged and linked off a poor Marr clearance but centre Brown could not wriggle free and was bundled in to touch.
Marr demonstrated their superb back skills from the resultant line out, and only good EK covering forced them out just inside the EK 22. This produced a period of Marr pressure , which allowed Marr to extend their lead when EK were penalised for wheeling the scrum, some 25 metres out in front of the posts. Score: 11-20. EK reduced the lead to 14-20 through another Shankie penalty.
Over exuberant EK footwork saw a penalty reversed when Marr were blatantly lying over the ball. Then bizarrely, when it looked as if EK had been awarded a penalty advantage, they tried to run the ball only to go backwards through poor passing and option taking which led to an unconverted Marr try in the right corner which was rather against the run of play. Score: 14-25.
An excellent midfield break by Shankie produced a Marr offside in front of the post which Shankie kicked to make it 17-25. Game on…..? But from the restart EK tried to run rather than kick for position. This came back to bite them as Marr sought to apply some pressure.
One EK ambition was to deny Marr a try bonus (no team has managed this so far this year). Alas, from an EK scrum put in five metres out, EK lost control of the ball and one of the Marr back rows seized on a loose ball to charge over for the critical score after 70 minutes. Soft and disappointing! Score: 17-32.
There was no way back after this, although EK did try. They reverted to their youth policy by bringing on the evervescent Fraser Stott at scrum half but Marr successfully wound the clock down. Perhaps EK would have been better served by bringing Stott on earlier, either at 9 or 10, and/or bringing Shankie up from full back to stand off.
The EK forwards toiled magnificently, but the backs never really got going. Centre Ian Brown distinguished himself with vital tackling in the second half, but with the exception of Shankie, did not have any penetration. Too many short, flat passes without momentum and again an uncertainty when to kick and when to run.
Let’s be honest – the Marr backs are a class act, and in the first half scored simple but critical tries out of the blue on first phase ball. Whether their forwards are sufficiently strong enough for the tasks that lie ahead in higher league(s) is questionable but at least they will be able to try to answer the question.
EK played well, but not well enough. Once again, we proved we have the capability but we have yet to be able to deliver for the full 80 minutes. The score (from an EK perspective) flattered the visitors but we wish them, with their ex EK Craig Redpath as coach, the best of luck next year.
Man of Match: this goes to Calum Aitken who delivered a strong, forceful performance in the loose with a series of strong drives. Paul Rosie and Scott Shankie also got close, and while Aitken in the 2nd half had to devote his energy to playing with the Fat Boys in the front row, he deservedly won the nomination overall. May need to give him a bottle of wine if he keeps this up!!
Team: 15. Scott Shankie, 14. Andy Henderson, 13. Ian Brown, 12. Grant Seymour, 11. Fat but now Slimmer Craig Ferguson, 10. Robbie Greenfield, 9. Fraser Little, 8. Gareth Jones (Captain), 7. Chris O’Neill, 6. Calum Aitken, 5. Paul Rosie, 4. Craig Ferguson Junior, 3. Scott Aitken, 2. Jason Currie, 1. Chris Mclellan. Replacements (all used): Andy MacDonald, Calum Hastie, Stewart Kampman, Fraser Stott.