Murrayfield Wanderers 2nds – 10 vs 36 – Lasswade 2nds
Due to the Heineken Cup quarter-final match between Edinburgh and Toulouse being staged on Saturday 7th April it was agreed to move this match to Thursday evening. Some of the players remarked how unusual it was to have a midweek game although it was fairly common a number of years ago. The good thing was that most players made themselves available and were keen to finish the season on a high. The season has been a bit of a roller coaster from the highs of home wins over Peebles, Jed-forest, Kelso and Gala to the lows of heavy defeats on the road to Gala, Kelso and Peebles – a victory in the Borders is a rare bird and much to be savoured.
The corresponding fixture on 19th November at Hawthornden saw the visitors that day edge out their hosts by 15 points to 12. They were a stuffy side but deserved their win.
A good number of this year’s Colts are due to move up to Senior rugby next season and this match was seen as an opportunity to “blood” some of them. Hooker Calum Sinclair, back-row Stephen Hunt and utility back Rory Anderson all made themselves available for the game.
The G4 pitch behind the West Stand at HQ was the venue for this match and most of the Lasswade players have played on this surface over the past 2 seasons and were fairly familiar with its nuances.
Man-of-the match from the Kelso game, Andy Hall
was given another opportunity to start at full-back. Rick McKenna, who has been starved of game time this season due to injury and work commitments returned to his familiar wing berth with the youngest Elliot taking up the other wing. Ian Wilson
and Ali Elliot formed the centre pairing while Jamie Carmichael
, returning from a niggling back problem, slotted in at 10 to partner Ally Lamond
( who has played consistently well all season at scrum-half for the 2nd) to resume a successful partnership
Up front Robbie Noble
, Calum Sinclair and veteran Andy Glass
formed the front row, while the up and coming Daniel Riddell partnered Alasdair Murray, who was keen to play against his old team, in the second row. Captain Chook Gairn, Gordon Ward
and young Stephen Hunt took up the back row positions.
Lasswade got off to a good start in ideal conditions, apart from a slight drizzle, when they immediately applied pressure in their opponent’s half. Lasswade found dominance from the first scrum and this was to continue throughout the game. A N0.8 pick –up from Chook saw ball shipped through several pairs of hands including Ally Lamond
, Stephen Hunt and then back to Chook who forced his way over the line for the first points of the evening and an early 5 point advantage.
As is often the case, the first team to score tends to relax and so it proved as MW reacted swiftly and pinned Lasswade in their own half for the next 20 minutes. Lasswade tried haplessly to regain territory but their methods of doing so failed and some careless kicking gave the home team opportunity after opportunity to attack the visitors’ line. What didn’t help was the amount of penalties awarded to MW and Lasswade players were at a loss to understand how they incurred the wrath of the referee.
During this period though Lasswade defended magnificently and thwarted all attempts by MW to breach their line. Eventually Lasswade regained meaningful possession, mainly through the set-pieces and mounted their own challenge on the home line but a lack of composure often saw the final pass go to ground and so it was a slender 5 point lead that Lasswade took into the interval.
Half-time – 0-5
Lasswade felt they could make an improvement if they cut out silly errors and retain possession more. The props were being rotated while Gari Coleman
replaced Andy Hall
at full-back who in turn replaced Nick Elliot on the right wing. Higgy took over from Stephen Hunt in the back row. The youngster showed up well particularly in the loose with good handling skills and looks a good prospect.
It was the home team who took the early initiative and on spotting a gap in Lasswade’s defence line a try was easily conceded wide out. The scores were now level and things appeared to get worse when 5 minutes later Captain Chook was yellow-carded for a bit of foul play. Fortunately, for Lasswade, this was the turning point of the game. Now down to 7 forwards and without a No.8 Lasswade were awarded a scrum on the home 22. The resultant strike from the scrum saw the ball coming swiftly backwards to the alert Lamond who quickly fed ball to the blind side and after clever inter-passing between Hall and Coleman the latter reached the home line , touching down for Lasswade’s 2nd score of the evening. The conversion failed but minutes later Ally Lamond
grub kicked at the left hand side of the home 22 and fortunately the ball ricocheted off a MW player to be gratefully and skilfully snatched by Ali Elliot who weaved his way past several defenders to touch down. This time Hall made no mistake with the conversion and in doing so stretched Lasswade’s lead to 17 points to 5.
Chook resumed the field of play much to the taunts of his fellow players as his presence hadn’t been missed but that was a bit cruel!
Then it was MW’s turn to fall out with the referee when their No 5 was yellow carded, having previously been warned by referee for late tackles. The player was duly sent to the bin and Lasswade saw the opportunity to turn the screw.
Hooker Calum Sinclair duly delivered the bonus point when he plunged over between the posts for Lasswade’s 4th try. Hall added the extras and the score now stood at 29-5 in the visitors favour with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Further changes were made with newcomer Iain Smith replacing Rick McKenna on the wing. It just wasn’t happening for Rick who is normally a try-scoring machine. Rory Anderson took over from Ally Lamond
at scrum-half to give him experience at senior level. The front row continued to rotate with Andy Kerr taking over from Sinclair at hooker.
The last 20 minutes saw Lasswade add to their tally with tries from Ian Wilson
and Ali Elliot while MW had the final say of the evening when their winger scored in the corner.
A better second half performance saw Lasswade eventually come out on top against a determined and stuffy MW 15. Calum Sinclair was awarded Lasswade's man-of-the-match with a great all-round performance. Lasswade’s backs defended well while their attack was potent through strong running by Carmichael, Elliot, Wilson and Coleman in particular. Up front Gordon Ward
and Higgy tackled well and carried ball effectively while the set pieces, particularly the scrum were really solid.
That appears to be it for another season and it would seem that the present reserve league structure will continue for another season at least so opposition next season will be familiar. There are a fair number of Colts moving up to senior level next season so it is hoped to get a 3rds out next season on a more regular basis.
Many thanks to the large “travelling” support for their attendance and vocal encouragement while Head Coach Cobie took the opportunity to assess the up and coming talent of the Club.
Team: A Hall; R McKenna; A Elliot; I Wilson; N Elliot; J Carmichael; A Lamond; A Glass; C Sinclair; R Noble; A Murray; D Riddell; G Ward; S Hunt and A Gairn (c). Subs – A Kerr; R MacKenzie; C Arnot; R Anderson; I Smith and G Coleman.