1st XV v Loretto Nippers

20th September

The St. Mary’s 1st XV played their first match of the season yesterday against Loretto Nippers. The two teams had clashed at the Merchiston Pre-Season Tournament but this, a 15 a side affair played over the full time period, would be a very different affair.
Having played once before we had a good insight into the strengths of the Musselburgh outfit. We picked a strong team with a back row comprising Thomas E, Ollie C and Matt B behind Dicken and Mac in the second row and Jake, Oliver E and William Mac up front. Caelan renewed his half-back partnership with Captain William Tweedie while Jamie and Will S filled the centre slots in midfield. Archie Mo, Alexander and Tommy made a talented back three while Archie Mac, Antony and Callum started as impact subs.
The match kicked off and both teams became involved in a midfield arm-wrestle. We had the grunt to win it but our body positions in the ruck were not low enough and we were driven off the ball a little too often for this Coach’s liking. Eyes up, back straight and drive through low and up and you will win the contest against all but the most determined opponent.
This last quality; determination, was shown in abundance by a number of St. Mary’s players as they smashed into the fray with crunching tackles, bullocking charges and straight running. However, you can not expect to win against 15 with only 6 cylinders firing. Loretto were making ground and recycling the ball easily. They nearly scored with one dash to the corner by the inside centre. Fortunately, he snapped the corner flag in scoring and the score was disallowed.
St. Mary’s then turned field position into points as the ball was worked left from a scrum through Caelan to William then Tommy to Will and on to William Mac. The big lad had worked hard to get there and he hit the ball at pace before offloading to Alexander who dotted down wide out on the left touchline. Tommy slotted the extras.
Loretto struck back soon after and, despite the determined efforts of Thomas, Mac and Archie Mo they managed to dot down through a tangle of bodies. They slotted the conversion (just) before the referee shrill peep signalled half-time.
Half Time Score: St. Mary’s School 7 – 7 Loretto Nippers
Half-time provided a great opportunity for a few home truths. We were not playing at anywhere near the intensity that we had showed in practice and were carrying far too many passengers. Each boy needed to turn up and do his part. Missed tackles, dropped balls etc are all excusable. Lack of effort is not. We needed to get stuck into Loretto in the second half.
To their credit, the boys responded.
The second half performance was much improved and we came close to scoring on three occasions.
Archie Mac, Antony and Callum made telling contributions when they came on and we really forced Loretto onto the back foot for extended periods as the harrying defence cut the time available to the oppo’s key players.
However, the pivotal came moment of the game came five minutes from time when pressure in front of the points led to a penalty that Tommy slotted to put St. Mary’s into a three point lead. The green machine kept the home side bottled up for the last few minutes and the match was won.
Final Score: St. Mary’s School 10 – 7 Loretto Nippers

Coach’s Notes:
The intensity was not quite there today. We need to be aggressive and determined in everything that we do. We can not be bullied off the ball. If you see teammates drifting, encourage them to try harder and point them in the right direction.
However, the most encouraging thing today was that we won the game against a good team when we were playing well below our level of ability. If we can bring our full grunt and guile to bear in future matches we can mix it with any team on the circuit.
Men of the Match:
Two players stood out today for their spirit and drive; Will S was superb in the backline and made tackle after tackle as well as dominating the opposition in attack. Archie Mo was the sort of tenacious mongrel who will not be beaten. He made 20-25 yards every time he had the ball and did not miss a tackle all afternoon – superb.

Marnie Harvey, 21/09/2017

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