Don Cameron Celebrates Birthday in Style
RUC (Guyancourt) 19 – 51 Linlithgow
Saturday 5th February 2005
It was a cold sharp morning as the players from the two teams arrived at the Sporting Bouygues ground in Guyancourt. Mark Packer captained the Linlithgow side which included two French players in the front row. The Linlithgow side looked strong on paper and so it was to be during the match.
The forward confrontation was the key to the game, as Linlithgow fronted up to match the strong home pack. As a result Linlithgow’s backs sparked by man-of-the-match Blair Stewart and stand-off Mark Packer were able to take advantage of good possession and open up the game for some champagne rugby.
Jon Blundell; Mark Green, Ben Hamer, Barry McKeown, Jamie Chapman: Mark Packer (captain), Blair Stewart; Bernard Gabarrus, Philippe Monge, Bill Taylor; Ewan Alexander, Don Cameron; Robbie Richardson, Alan Lockhart and Stuart Bryce.
Subs: Nick Chadwick, David Syme, Dougie Blair.
It only took two minutes for the first score in the game and it came from a loop move on halfway between the halfbacks, Packer putting Stewart clear for the scrum-half to sprint 30 metres before taking the cover tackle and feed Ben Hamer for a try in the corner.
The game then settled down for a few minutes with play around the midfield. The French were looking to use their strength up the middle, but they were stopped short throughout the match by text book tackling by flankers Alan Lockhart and Robbie Richardson. Time after time the French drove only to be crashed to deck by the flying flankers.
The second score came after several phases of play and when the ball came right in the French 22, Ben Hamer made the incursion and his pass went through Bill Taylor’s hands to Bernard Gabarrus (Frenchman playing for Linlithgow) for the prop to crash over for a second unconverted try.
Then it was the Linlithgow captain, Mark Packer, who turned on the magic with a silky run from halfway to release Blair Stewart on an inside break, for the scrum-half to go in under the posts with a try which he converted himself to take the score to 17-0 for the visitors.
With a few minutes to go to half-time, the French got on the scoreboard at last with a crash runner breaking the line on the 22 and, when Stewart made the cover tackle, one of his colleagues was on hand to go over under the posts for a converted try.
Linlithgow bounced straight back with one of the tries of the match when Stewart broke from his own 22 and, after looking around for non-existent support, stood up the full back before blazing in under the posts for a try which he again converted himself.
Half-time score: RUC (Guyancourt) 7 – 24 Linlithgow
Linlithgow rang the changes at half-time, bringing on Chad for Fi-Fi in the front row, David Syme in the second row and Dougie Blair on the wing. Stewart moved to centre, with Ben Hamer coming into scrum-half.
The French started the half the stronger and scored a fine converted try to peg back the visitors to a 10 point lead. But it wasn’t for long as another fine Stewart break from his own 10 metre line saw him outpace the first line of defence only to be tackled 10 metres short of the line. An exquisite pop pass off the deck found the supporting Mark Green who went in at the corner for an unconverted try.
By now it was all Linlithgow as the ball was flung wide for prop Nick Chadwick to appear at outside centre. His 3 metre burst of pace made the incursion which put Mark Green in for his second try, this time under the posts. Stewart converted to take the score to 36-14 in favour of the visitors.
Jon Blundell then scored a peach of a try as the ball found him 40 metres out on the left wing. Pinning back his ears he blazed round two defenders, just staying in play and, with a touch of sheer class, he then stepped inside the full back to go in under the posts for a magic try.
Once again Chad popped up to pinch a poorly deflected line-out ball from the French inside the visitors 22. Packer moved the ball out right for Blair Stewart and Jon Blundell to carry on, before putting Mark Green away for his hat-trick try.
All second-half the crowd had been treated to a cameo performance from stand-off Packer one minute darting through a gap, the next picking up a Hamer pass off his toes, the next throwing out a long miss-pass. But close on full time came the piece de resistance. From a line-out close to the Linlithgow goal-line, Mark Packer sent out a 40 metre reverse spin pass to Blair Stewart. Gathering the ball behind his own line he spotted Mark Green lying out wide right. His cross kick from under his own posts was perfect for Green to run on to. Green’s inside pass found Blair Stewart in support who took out the full back as he floated the ball to fast-arriving Jon Blundell. With no cover left it was only a pleading yell from Jamie Chapman haring up in support which stopped Jon from touching down for his second try. Instead he unselfishly waited for young Jamie, feeding him a scoring pass for a fine try. Chapman’s attempted conversion matched a penalty attempt later that day by Dominic Traille at the Stade de France – woeful would be a kind way of putting it!
There was still time left for a spirited French revival with a last minute try to make the final score 51 -19 for the visitors. At the reception that evening captain Mark Packer was presented with the winner’s trophy and Blair Stewart with the man-of-the-match award. As the Deputy Mayor of Guyancourt said the result of the match was not important, “the winner is always the friendship”. The day also marked the birthday of Linlithgow’s oldest player Don Cameron.
Blair Stewart, from Christchurch in New Zealand, played the 2004-05 season for the Reds as a 21 year old. On his return to New Zealand, he played 28 times for Southland, in addition to claiming 4 caps for the Hurricanes and 2 for the Highlanders in Super Rugby. He then returned to France and went on to make 143 appearances for Albi, Grenoble and Bayonne over 7 years in the French Top 14 and D2 leagues, amassing 727 points in the process.