Reds Can’t Quite Weather the Storm
Linlithgow 2s 10 – 24 Melrose Storm
Saturday 16 October 2021
Report by Des Martin
It was the “Pie and Pint” day for previous players and a few of the recent past players who came to watch this potentially exciting Tennents Reserve East 2 league game at Mains Park. In addition, the Reds’ entire First Team squad were there to lend their support, as their scheduled league match against Royal High had been called off for Covid related reasons.
The Manager knew this would be a difficult game for the Reds as Melrose Storm were unbeaten and determined to prove to the SRU that they had been allocated to the wrong Reserve League. The team, whose average age was about 20, seemed sharp and well drilled in the warm up and were throwing the ball about very accurately. Former Edinburgh Coach Rob Moffat was with the visitors and his influence was soon seen in the game.
The kick off went to the Reds and forwards Callum McKeown and Liam Park carried the ball to the opposition, unfortunately the ball was stripped and Melrose retained the ball. This Melrose team wanted to attack at every opportunity and wanted to spread the ball wide. The full back and winger (no 11) for Melrose both had speed and good side steps which made them difficult to mark. The drift defence from the Reds plus good tacking from Muzz Murray, Pooch Tulloch, Tom Cole and many others kept the Melrose team at bay until the 15th minute when their winger, Robin Sharp, beat two men to score a try. (0-5 to Melrose) The Melrose team scored another try quickly after this and the Manager was worried as the score was now 0-12 after only 20 minutes.
However the Reds started to believe that if they carried the ball at Melrose they might not be so keen to run after a few big tackles and collisions. Liam Park, Andy Archer, Bruno Mochrie and Pooch Tulloch all stepped up to this task of carrying the ball to the opposition and the Reds began to make ground. From a series of rucks near to the Melrose line Tom Cole, the scrum half for the Reds, darted over and scored a good team try. Unfortunately the conversion was missed. (5-12 to Melrose)
The Reds now had more belief in their style of play and continued to work hard but unfortunately Melrose scored another try before half time, when touch was missed and the opposition passed the ball quickly across to the winger who managed to beat a couple of men to score. (5-19 at half time)
The Manager who had a large bench of players made changes at half time by putting on Ali Walker, Lauchlan McCall, and Stu Young and these fresh players helped the continuation of the robust play that had been successful at the end of the first half. Captain Muzz Murray moved from the back row to centre and Ross Plenderleith moved to the wing. Soon the Reds were on the attack again and a move which involved a series of mini-rucks resulted in Plenders scoring an unconverted try out wide. (10-19 in Melrose’s favour)
The Reds continued to work hard in defence and attack and had a few chances which broke down for one reason or other. One such incident saw big Liam Park make a great charge from the half way line and he was going well, looking to score, when his boot came off and the defender caught him as his stride was broken. Another opportunity came when Thomas Cole chased a kick and touched the ball down for the referee to disallow it as he was unsighted from 30 yards away.
The visitors were clearly rattled, but to their credit kept trying to play running rugby. Again their winger was in the heart of the action and only a fabulous cover tackle from second row Bruno Mochrie in the corner saved the day. From the next phase of possession, near the Reds’ line, Melrose moved the ball across the width of the pitch at pace and another last-ditch cover caused their other winger to spill the ball over the Reds’ line in the corner. The ref, who was some distance away, awarded a scrum on the 5 metre line to Melrose – a genuine mistake for which he later apologised. From this scrum, Melrose moved the ball back across the pitch, with the centre’s direct line creating an overlap out wide, which two fine passes exploited to give Melrose their fourth try. The visitors’ relief was clear to see in their joyous celebrations!
With the conversion missed, this gave Melrose a 24-10 lead late in the match. Indeed their was no further scoring, in what had been a great game of rugby. The willingness of both sides to keep the ball alive, the commitment and handling of the players from both sides was all to a high standard.
The Reds can be proud of their performance against a talented and youthful Melrose side, – roll on next week against Peebles!
Ross Plenderleith; Aidan Wan, Jock McNair, Gregor McLean, Callum Miller; Grant Findlater, Tom Cole; Calum McKeown, Adam Scott, Matthew Sommerville; Fraser Mochrie, Liam Park; Andrew Archer, Jamie Tulloch and Euan Murray (captain)
Subs (all used)
Ali Reynolds, Stuart Young, Ewan Edwards, Ally Walker, Lachlan McCall and Kenny McKenzie.