Boroughmuir Bears faced Peebles ‘A’ at home on Saturday, in the first tie of a double header against the Borders side. There was real optimism going into the game after last weeks great victory against Jed-Forest and in great conditions the Bears hoped to build on this victory.
There were a number of changes in the Bears line-up from the previous week, due to players being unavailable or being called up to the 2nds. No fewer than six changes were made in the pack, with number 8 Andy Clark and captain Rod Hutchison the only survivors from last weeks game. Nevertheless, the pack had plenty of experience with the likes of lock Gordon Pearse and prop Danny Rutterford. There was much change in the backs as well, with coach Alan Sievewright stepping in at full-back, Stevie Harris making a return on the wing after injury and a first start for Irish centre Eric Rees.
The Bears got off to a decent start and had the early territorial advantage. The pick and drives from ruck ball allowed the forwards to make some headway, however, the Peebles defence was well organised and they were able to frustrate the Bears.
On ten minutes Peebles opened the scoring with a well worked try, which was converted by their full-back. Soon after they added a penalty kick and the Bears looked to respond. They were dealt a bit of luck on twenty minutes, when the referee showed a red card to the Peebles lock, Sandy Smellie, for ‘violent play’. The numerical advantage in the scrum, initially allowed the Bears to get back into the Peebles half and they were able to come away with a penalty kick from Chris Evans.
However, Peebles adjusted well to their set-back and with the Bears guilty of conceding a lot of penalties, the away side were able to convert another three penalties in relatively quick succession. Evans hit back with one of his own shortly before half-time, so the Bears went in at the break trailing 19-6.
With the wind behind them in the second half, the Bears hoped to hit back early on. Scrum-half Harry Fenton was enjoying another good game and was causing some problems for Peebles with his pacey darts from scrum and ruck ball. The Borders side continued to defend well and managed to clear ball from near their try line, only to kick it straight into the hands of Sievewright who calmy struck a classy drop goal from thirty metres out.
Peebles hit back with another try, that went unconverted but the Bears showed good spirit to register one of their own almost straight after. The forwards managed to claim good territory with the likes of Andrew Wildgoose, replacement prop Richard Marshall and captain Hutchison making the hard yards. This good approach play allowed a half gap to appear around the ruck, from which Fenton did not need a second invitation and sniped over for a try in the right corner. Evans was unable to convert the touchdown.
Disappointingly this was as good as it got for the Bears in the second half and for the last twenty five minutes Peebles shifted up several gears. Much credit must be given to Peebles who played some dynamic rugby in both the backs and forwards, however, the defence in the second half by the Bears was not of the usual quality and this proved very costly. Peebles scored several unanswered tries to register a 58-14 win.
The Bears have plenty to work on before next Fridays return fixture under the floodlights at the Gytes. The defensive frailties and poor rucking on show today are all things that can be worked on if the Bears can get the numbers down to training on a regular basis. There is plenty of talent in the squad but it is not being fully realised at the moment with only a committed few making the effort to get to training. We all know rugby is infinitely more enjoyable when you are winning, so lets see more players down to train this week and lets go down to the Borders next week and restore our pride!
Player/Reporter Chris Evans