Hartree Mill Sports Grounds, Biggar ML12 6JJCharity Number: SC 047700

1sts and 2nds take on Stewarts Melville

Stewarts Melville 0 Biggar 31

This was a result which will tax the statisticians from both clubs; when was the last time Biggar won back to back games whilst keeping their line intact and when was the last time Stew Mel failed to record a single point at home?

 

Answers on a postcard please to BRFC and if it’s possible these will be included in this Saturday’s match programme when Howe of Fife are the guests.

 

Having managed to defeat the Edinburgh side by 36-3 at Hartree Mill back in September, Biggar were convinced that on Saturday they would face a really fired up opposition desperate to gain some sort of revenge. The Stew Mel warm up gave credilbility to that conviction as the home side, with an onimously large pack, ran through a host of moves at pace. Fast forward to the match however and things were very different when the same moves stuttered and failed as passes were dropped and lacked accuracy while the pack, aside from a couple of notable exceptions came off second best both in the set piece and in the loose.

 

That this was the case was down to the pressure exerted by an equally fired up Biggar squad combined with a real off-day for the Edinburgh side who struggled to match the Biggar effort.

 

Chances to get the Stew Mel scoreboard moving there were, but these were few and far between and on each occasion they found the Biggar defence at its solid best. Players were knocked back in tackles, possession was conceded while opportunities to gain and/or retain field position were lost when the set piece malfunctioned. Indeed, two of Biggar’s 5 tries came from lineout errors when possession was gifted to Biggar players who reacted far quicker to press home the advantage.

 

Biggar fielded a strong XV with competition for places seeing a couple of regulars dropping to the 2nd XV who played their Stew Mel hosts on the adjoining pitch.

 

Up front Ewan Stewart returned at hooker which allowed Chris Mulligan to play on the flank, Lewis Stewart unavailable due to injury. In the 2nd row, Andrew Warnock joined up with Jamie Orr, these two contributing massively in winning and pinching valuable lineout ball.

 

The backs began as of late, and the bench saw newcomer Declan Dinnen making his first appearance in a Biggar shirt.

 

Given the torrential rain during the week it was hardly surprising that the Inverleith pitch was sodden and slippy, this a factor both sides had to contend with, but happily the overhead conditions were reasonably fair.

 

Biggar kicked off up the ‘slope’ and faced an initial onslaught (as expected) and which saw Biggar pressed into defensive roles. A knock on off a neat chip was the first Stew Mel foray into Biggar’s half. Some really good defence and a big scrum saw Biggar gain territory and it seemed a burst to the line from Robbie Lavery would open the scoring but at the last possible moment the ball was knocked from his grasp. Another good scrum saw Stew Mel struggle to break free and Biggar regrouped to make an assualt on the Stew Mel line. Conor Lavery took the ball going right and put in a neat grubber behind the Stew Mel backs, Ross Bradford winning the chase for the first try which Matthew Stewart converted for 7-0.

 

Stew Mel maintained possession from two penalties and subsequent lineouts as Biggar fell foul of referee Steven Turnbull. A searing break through the Biggar line was perhaps the best line break of the match but Biggar’s cover defence in the shape of Rowan Stewart was up to the mark and the attack halted.

 

The hosts opted to take a scrum from the next penalty award, they believing that their scrum would be able to dominate but a somewhat predictable blind side move saw the winger bundled in to touch.

 

Despite gaining some relief via Davy Reive’s box kicks and a good ‘mark’ from Alan Warnock Stew Mel managed to retain possession and territory.

 

The game at this stage was broken and scrappy as both teams made errors, these due to the slippy conditions underfoot and/or as players tried to open play up. Still suffering from a number of penalties all for a variety of different offences, Biggar were under some pressure but this they dealt with pretty well, their two man/double tackles sapping the energy from the hosts attack. Two examples of this with Rowan Stewart and Donald Voas and another by Jamie Orr and Ewan Stewart caught the eye.

 

As it was Biggar began to gain more ground and just after the half hour they struck again. A good attacking position was won from a penalty from Conor Lavery and good lineout ball. Matthew Stewart, Voas and Ross Jackson combined well to take play to the Stew Mel 22. Ball was recycled and pressure maintained via a driving run from Jamie Orr. With quick ruck ball provided a pop pass to Euan Sanderson saw him crash over from 5 metres for a score which saw the ‘points for’ total move past the 500 mark, it all the more appropriate that this try was claimed by the 1st XV captain. Matthew Stewart duly converted the try to put Biggar into a 14-0 lead.

 

Stew Mel came back from the restart but Biggar were able to hold their line intact after Warnock took a good lineout off the hosts possession.

 

The second half saw Guy Kelly – the youngster showing again that he is a talent with some solid scrummaging combined with some very good ‘carries’ in the loose - replaced by Franco Carossi.

 

The half couldn’t have had a better start for Biggar as in what was their first attack an attempted break out by the Stew Mel pack saw hooker Doug Randall pass the ball directly to his opposite number Ewan Stewart who had the simple task of turning and making the 5 yards to the line for an opportunist score. Matthew Stewart was just short with his conversion attempt.

 

Less than 10 minutes later and Biggar claimed their 4th and bonus point winning try, not something which had been given much thought in the pre-match build up. This too came directly from a Stew Mel error and as such a bit of a gift. Biggar have often conceded possession from lineouts in the past but they haven’t been punished just so harshly. An overthrow and knock-down on their own lineout saw ball spilled to the ground, the ever-present flanker Chris Mulligan on hand to pounce on the ball and then make the 5 or so yards to the line for the try. Matthew Stewart duly converted for 26-0 but this was his last involvement as Ryan Moffat took over in the centre.

 

Minutes later and a penalty gave Conor Lavery the chance to extend his sides lead but he was off target from what was a long way out.

 

Dinnen made his first appearance on the pitch when he replaced Warnock and Iain Renwick then took over at scrum half from Reive. These changes disrupted the Biggar effort a little and the remainder of the contest became a little less fluid with errors again creeping into both sides play. It was an entertaining contest nevertheless, with plenty talking points and several chances to add to the Biggar total.

 

Biggar’s 5th try came as Biggar were deep in their hosts half. A series of attacks had come up against some btter defence but with great vision stand off Conor Lavery put in a super cross kick which Ryan Moffat was able to take before crossing for a great score. Lavery was just short with the conversion.

 

The last passage of play saw Stew Mel enjoy a bit more pressure with better possession and they forced Biggar back into defence. That Biggar kept the city side out was as big a bonus as the additional point for scoring 4 tries. The side have now scored 521 and conceded just 87, an average over the 13 games of 40-6!

 

Biggar’s next test is against Howe of Fife, a side languishing at ther foot of the National 2 table. Complacency is a dangerous enemy and with several players unavailable as they travel to celebrate Alan Warnock’s wedding to Emma (best wishes to the couple from all at Hartree Mill), the squad must regroup and ensure that they retain their top spot.

 

 

Biggar

R. Orr, R. Bradford, R. Lavery, M. Stewart, R. Stewart, C. Lavery, D. Reive, D. Voas, E. Stewart, G. Kelly, J. Orr, A. Warnock, E. Sanderson, C. Mulligan, R. Jackson

Reps: F. Carossi, D. Dinnen, R. Moffat, I. Renwick

 

Biggar’s 2nd XV were left tight for numbers on Saturday and their cause was hampered early on with a nasty head cut injury to stand off James Barr. Happily he has been stitched up and is set for recovery.

 

Further injuries to Ali Steele, Euan Bogle and Paul Davidson meant the side was further depleted although the latter two were able to stay on the pitch.

 

A Bogle penalty was their limit in the first half but a try and conversion from Gregor Stewart in the second period gave the side a lift but Stew Mel were able to run in several tries to win by 41-10.

 

There is bags of potential in this side, especially if those who are available were all able to play regularly. Their mid table position is not at all reflective of thier ability or potential.


NEWS

1sts and 2nds take on Stewarts Melville

Biggar's senior sides journeyed up the A702 to take on city side Stewarts Melville

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