A young PL select side got the chance to run out together for the first time last Thursday evening when those who have already made the breakthrough into the senior 1st XV were reunited with some of their former teammates from the Colts.
It was never going to be easy against a team of Edinburgh University students who play under the banner of Crags Crusaders and despite the impression you may get from reading about them on their website, this isn’t just a bunch of midweek dirt-trackers. These are very good players who want to play rugby in a sporting fashion.
Right from the kick off, the Crusaders showed just how capable they were going to be as they set off at a very high tempo and their early pace was too much for the PL defence who were left chasing shadows as the first of five tries was run in.
A feature of the match would be PL’s lack of discipline at the breakdown where they gave away too much possession by going off their feet or by coming in from the side and they didn’t always help themselves by offering the referee too much advice which he didn’t need or appreciate.
There were however, many positives that could be taken from the game. It was obvious that the PL side were at a disadvantage as they had never played together as a unit before and yet, despite being under almost constant pressure in their own half, they did in the end concede only five tries. The Crusaders play the game in the true spirit of rugby which means that they try to keep the ball moving at all times and the PL boys were well up for this challenge and generally matched them for fitness in all areas of the pitch.
Several players caught the eye – most notably winger Finlay Hughes, whose breaks into space did him no harm at all and probably contributed to his selection for the senior 1st XV on Saturday. Jordan Eales and Blair Robertson were also relishing their roles as leaders for players younger than themselves rather than being rookies in the firsts and Lee Binmore looks like he might be a star of the future as his confidence grew with a couple of kick and chases as the match wore on.
Cammy McSorley nearly created an opening for the ever alert Simon Blair with a neat kick to the corner and although the line-out didn’t always function well, Jonny Sked and Shaun Jones did their best to disrupt the flow of the opposition.
1st XV experience makes a huge difference at this level and gives confidence to players such as Dale Gordon who played very well, but it can also rub off on others as shown by some fine play by Luke Reynolds who pitched in alongside more experienced front row colleagues in the shape of Raymond Mackie and Munro Third.
It’s a team game though and with the exception of the aforementioned discipline, everyone put up a pretty decent showing against much more experienced opposition.
Coaches Mark Coull and Stuart Thomson should be well pleased that there were so many good points to be taken from the match and it’s definitely an experiment well worth repeating.
PL Under 20 Squad:
J Eales, S Blair, R Brown, B Robertson, F Hughes, C McSorley, D Gordon, C Law, J McDonald, R Clark, S Jones, J Sked, M Third, R Mackie, L Reynolds, D Eales, L Binmore, R Galloway, R Scott, E Baker, W Buckley, M Cunningham