Match Report written by Larry Moore
Make no mistake this game was much much tougher than the scoreline suggests.
If last week’s victory over Quins pointed towards a team that is developing from a side that benefits from, a small group of more able players, to one where all players contribute and are essential to the improvement in team performance, this week threw up some challenges as to how to make the most of the different qualities in the team.
Scottish were first to score. Awarded a penalty for offside, Skipper Joey kicked to the corner and from the resulting lineout Finlay M took the ball in the centres and dummied and sidesteppedd past three defenders to score.
Welsh had some strong runners themselves and it was not long before one such player broke up the right hand side of the pitch, ran threw three tackles before scoring. 5 – 5.
As mentioned at length last week, over the last couple of seasons we have been well served by players making strong individual runs, particularly out wide in the backs. Our main tactic has therefore been to get the ball to those areas. But with the continued improvement in all parts of the team and having new players, such as Bryn, who are very good at getting across the gain line we have attacked around the ruck much more. Although this is very much a ‘good thing’, in this match the players needed to examine if this was the best way to proceed! Welsh were very good at turnovers in the ruck, their no. 8 in particular. Therefore the likes of Robbie, Nikolaj, Matteo, Zaki, Conor and Bailey, who have bags of pace, could not get enough ball in open play.
Despite Welsh’s strength at the brekadown Scottish scored two more tries before half time. The first was orthodox: at a scrum 5m from the Welsh line no.8 Finlay M picked and drove through the single defender marking him. The second was a little more unusual as after a long clearance and then some scrappy play, Conor punted the ball forward and was rewarded for his tenacity following his kick by dotting the ball down over the line. Welsh answered again with another length of the pitch run that was only halted by a high tackle giving the referee no alternative but to award a penalty try. It was 15-12 to Scottish at HT with all to play for.
To start the second half, Finlay added another try after some disjointed play at the back of the scrum. Nikolaj converted.
Running a couple of plays around the ruck, thereby keeping the opposing defence narrow before spinning the ball wide to the open space, is towards the beginning of the Rugby Playbook. However, it is far from easy to change the way you play – the decisions that you make – whilst you are in the middle of a match. So, to see the Scottish backs positioning themselves deeper and wider whether through accident or design was a joy to behold because it meant that when they had possession they were able to get it wide earlier.
The boys are often told to aim to do the simple things perfectly and the next passage of play achieved it. Finlay M found himself in possession on the right with Robbie on his outside and two defenders squaring up, he found an outside shoulder, engaged the remaining defender and put Robbie away for the try, which Nikolaj converted. The second of this brace was much more collaborative and included great carries by Edan, Conor and Nikolaj before the last mentioned scored under the posts. He also converted his own try. Inbetween the tries one of the Welsh players scored a fine individual effort in the corner. To finish off the match Robbie scored following a fine run on the left from a penalty award. Final score 41-17.
Although many fine individual performances have gone unattributed here and another good day for the scrum has not been dwelt upon, it was another game where all 17 lads genuinely played well and the team responded positively to the challenges before them. I wasn’t sure who to give the man of the match award but having now written the report from my notes I hope you will forgive me if I give it to Finlay M.