U11A Rugby v Merchiston

14th September 2016
The U11’s entertained Merchiston on Wednesday afternoon in their first full match of the new season. The rain had relented, but ground conditions were very wet and made the ball very slippery affecting handling. Merchiston won the toss and elected to take the pass off to start the match. St. Marys decided to stay as they were and play down the slight slope.

The match started frantically as you sensed both teams were enjoying playing a rugby match again. The first few minutes were fairly even as both teams drove at each other testing out defences. Not much ball was getting out wide, partly due to the wet ball and partly due to defences pushing up quickly. It was proving difficult for both teams to build momentum as handling errors led to a lot of scrums!

However both teams started to settle and adjust better to the conditions. The visitors perhaps were ahead on territory without threatening the home line, but St. Marys were finding it difficult to break into the Merchiston half. Jake M, Finlay B, and Mac R drove well and made some ground but the tackling was up to the job against them. Equally, the big Merchiston ball carriers found little change with the St. Marys tackling where Thomas E, Frederick K and George B, to mention a few, chopped down all that came their way.

Then after some good retention of possession just inside the home half, Merchiston moved ball out left after a ruck to their overlap. A good turn of pace saw their unmarked player sprint away clear to score. However, despite his teammates shouting at him to put two hands on the ball he didn’t so the try was disallowed!

The Merchiston try though was only delayed and came off a home error. In possession from ruck ball just outside their ’22, a long wild pass was thrown out wide and behind isolating one player on his line and after a fumble Merchiston picked up to score. 0-1 and halftime.

The 2nd half was similar to the 1st. Both teams strove to drive at the other and try to out-muscle the other as conditions made it difficult to move ball out wide accurately and quickly. Caelan B worked hard at the base of the ruck and scrum to give good service to his backs outside of him, and gamely tackled at all that came his way. Archie Mac ran strongly forward in the centre, and also secured the centre of the pitch with good consistent tackling.  Oliver L and Archie M on the wings didn’t see a lot of possession in hand but did their defensive duties well.

Again neither team was pounding the other’s line, and defences were king. However, St. Marys started to break tackles up front through the drives of Mac R and Jake M. Then the ball got out to Oliver L on the left. Players were on him but there was a little space wide of him so he immediately took off wide and hit full throttle. You didn’t think he would have enough room but suddenly he almost looked clear and it was only a sole covering tackler that got to him and out of play in a last ditch tackle. A great attempt, and injured in the process! However, after a delay of 2 minutes Geordie M from the B game replaced him and ran and tackled admirably.

Time was running out for St. Marys, and when Merchiston got the ball out wide left again they ran in well from the 22’. 0-2 and only a minute plus injury time to go. It looked like curtains.

However, to their credit St. Marys actually lifted their game. They drove at Merchiston with desire. Then on halfway, Mac R standing off a ruck took the ball on the hoof. He broke 2 tackles but then had 3 on his back. Shrugging them off on the ’22 he took off in the clear to the line. He was in himself but made sure by passing to Archie M outside him two steps from the line as he saw a covering player coming across. Well done to Archie for supporting his player and finishing it well. 1-2!

Last play. From the restart, St. Marys turned ball over at the ruck. Ball went out to the left to Frederick K who decided to take off left where he saw some space. He slipped the tackle and got round the outside of the Merchiston defence and sped for the line. Cover was coming across, but he touched down just in time as it came in! 2-2 and time up.

A big well done to both teams in difficult conditions. The match was played in a great spirit and both teams deserve credit for the manner in which they played.

Mr A Rutherford

Jules Birdsall, 19/09/2016

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