STEWART’S MELVILLE skipper Scott Brewster has pointed to the bonus point garnered in Saturday’s 25-18 win over Hamilton in RBS Premier B as potentially vital to the Inverleith men’s promotion bid.
The four-try victory was just reward for a patient performance against a side that is not well fancied to challenge for a top two spot in Premier B but showed why they are being tipped by some observers as potential king makers.
The visitors battled for 80 minutes and deservedly took a narrow defeat bonus for their efforts. The substantial barrier they presented for the Inverleith came as no surprise to Brewster. “We totally expected it. They are not in Premier B for no reason,” insisted the 28-year-old lock. “Every game is going to be tough.”
And, he pointed out, it was crucial to maintain the intensity that had yielded a vital draw at Hawick against opponents who had suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Glasgow Hawks in their opening play off match, adding: “We built ourselves up for Hawick and the danger here was that having played them before we might step off it a bit.”
Then, referring to the maximum haul that leaves his side in second spot behind Capital rivals Heriot’s after the fixture card was decimated by the weather, he said: “A bonus point win in Premier B is a real bonus. It’s going to be such a tight league. Taking points away at Hawick was important then a bonus point win at home is all we could ask for really from the first two games.”
Brewster and his colleagues had to come from behind to post the win, and he was quick to acknowledge that they had not expected to trail at the interval.
“We were a wee bit surprised to be down at half-time. We started very well but in the last ten minutes of the first half our discipline let us down,” he said, referring to a substantial penalty count against the home side and a yellow card for Hayden Lingard. “We had a good word at half time then we turned it around in the second half.”
After Hamilton had opened the scoring with a try from Craig Inglis, Stew-Mel responded with a score from Liam Steele – the outstanding performer on show – who displayed impressive persistence to squeeze in and another by Lingard, who showed similar attributes, before Ross Inglis slotted a penalty and capped a strong finish to the half by the visitors with two tries.
The interval discussion referred to by Brewster had the desired effect and, with discipline under control – it was the Lanarkshire men who fell foul of a somewhat eccentric performance by referee Kevin White and his assistants with two yellow cards and an elevated penalty count – clawed their way back into the match with a powerful lineout drive that yielded a score for Alex Edmonstone, before an impressive 50-metre solo effort by Andrew Hughes, which was converted by Mike Hanning, sealed the bonus point and tilted the momentum firmly in the home side’s favour.
However, it was credit to a Hamilton side ably drilled by highly-respected former Edinburgh University coach Dale Lyon that the only embellishment to the Inverleith men’s points tally came in the form of a long -range penalty effort by Kaide Whiting.
“We are pretty happy with that,” said Brewster. “A bonus point win was what we were aiming for. It was a tough game and we closed it out in the end. We held onto the ball really well in the last five minutes.”
Acknowledging the contribution of the visitors to a keenly contested affair that was an indication of the intensity of the competition between eight talented sides for the two remaining places in next season’s top flight, he commented: “Fair play to them, they got the losing bonus point. When you’re on the wrong end of a result, they are going to count as well.”
Then looking ahead to the remaining five fixtures that will define the readiness of Stew-Mel for a spot in the top ten, he concluded: “Hawks and Heriot’s have set the pace after the first game but I can’t see any team going unbeaten – I think everyone is going to lose at least once, so it will go all the way to the last game I would think.”
Scorers: Stewart’s Melville: Tries; Steele, Lingard, Edmonstone, Hughes. Conversion: Hanning. Penalty: Whiting.
Hamilton: Tries: C Inglis, R Inglis (2). Pen: R Inglis.
Stewart’s Melville: L Steele, R Borthwick, M Hannay, H Lingard, A Hughes, M Hanning, K Whiting, W Aitken, R McKenzie, A Edmonstone, S Brewster, M Wilson, A Lean, D Sangster, P Hendry.
Hamilton: R Steele, C Stannage, S Murray, C Inglis, R Inglis, D Sutherland, S Turnbull, C McLaughlin, D McGrath, D Gemmell, T Rhind, A Marshall, A Hill, G McCowan, J Selfridge. Subs used: T Malley, O McLeish, J Barber-Fleming, R Jamieson.