1st XV v Merchiston Castle School
On Wednesday afternoon, the St. Mary's 1st XV engaged in a belter of a game against Merchiston Castle School. The game was a thriller from first to last; played out on a perfect pitch under a bright and low Spring sun and watched by a throng of enthusiastic and loyal supporters.
We started with a powerful pack comprising Jake, Ollie E and Dicken ahead of William Mac and Mac R in the boiler room and a back row of Ollie C, Thomas and Pack Leader Matt.
Captain William T started at 9 with Tommy at fly and Jamie and Will S at inside and outside centres. Archies Mo and Mac filled the wing slots and Alex F shored the team up from full back. Caelan waited for his chance to shine on the bench while Hamish, Antony and Callum had touchline roles as adjudicators and superfans.
William Mac had the honour of leading his team out on to the pitch and, when the boys lined up to chase Tommy's kick-off, it was clear that they meant business. The forwards have been good this season but on Wednesday they were excellent. The ferocity of their chase of Tommy's kick won the turnover as the big boys; Dicken, William Mac and Mac R steamed over the top of the tackled player. They were excellently marshalled by Pack Leader Matt and Captain Tweedie and set up quick ruck ball for Thomas and the Ollies steaming round the corner onto short popped passes. This moved the Merchie defensive line backwards by increments and sucked in attackers. With the threat of Jamie and Will S out wide and so many forwards sucked in to defend the rucks it was an excellent decision for Dicken to pick and go blind when we reached the 5 metre line.
There was no stopping the big lad from that sort of distance and TMO Callum Adamson was perfectly positioned to award the try as he crashed over in the corner. Tommy just dragged the extras wide but we had made an excllent start.
Merchiston flew back into the fray and only some desperate defence and excellent touchline shepherding by Alex and Archies Mo and Mac saved a couple of certain tries as their pacemen broke free.
However, Merchiston soon replied and scored a super team try with the break down the left finished under the posts for a super converted team try. We were behind but still on top of the contest. Merchiston were struggling to deal with the variation in attack between the big ball carriers like Mac, William Mac and Dicken coming round the corner and the backline threat out wide. The aforementioned trio had their best games in St. Mary's shirts and made ground whenever they had ball in hand. Smart work from PL Matt and his back row buddy Thomas left third amigo Ollie C with a little chink to dart through for a well deserved score to nudge the green machine ahead. We missed the extras again and the margin remained three points at the half.
Half-time score: St. Mary's 1st XV 10 - 7 Merchiston Castle School
Merchiston scored soon after the half with another scintillating team try and there then followed a period of flux where both teams attacked viciously and turned over the ball with such regularity that neither was able to breach the other's line. In fact, with 10 minutes to go, we elected to kick at goal to try to edge ahead. The kick skewed wide and we reverted to the all-court game that had proved so successful in the first half.
Tommy's slick show and go brought a self-converted try and then it was all St. Mary's.
Playing rugby with the wind in your sails is fantastic. You can not beat that feeling when everything seems to go your way.
The next five minutes were something of a blurr but certain things stick in your mind; Alex's superb gathers as he steamed on to the bobbling ball, Mac and Ollie thundering on to popped passes in the midfield, Captain Tweedie scrapping and darting, Will S pulling the Maori sidestep out the bag, Jamie so strong on his feet and fighting for every yard of advantage, Archie Mac cover tackling and Archie Mo turning over the ball, PL Matt flying into tackles and onto the loose ball like a honey badger...these are all fantastic memories from a wonderful period of play.
The dominance was complete and the converted scores for Will S and a second for Ollie C were all but incidental as we played the best rugby of the season.
Final score: St. Mary's 1st XV 31 - 12 Merchiston Castle School
Coach's Notes: Look at that scoreline and reflect on how far you have come this season as players and as a team. Well done to you all.
Man of the Match: William Mac; Just an awesome boy.
Tom Rawson, 23/02/2018