Peebles Reds battered and bruised but secure bonus point win
By BEN GLASGOW
Reds stay top
Frank the Pug reports from The Bunker
The Reds travelled to Edinburgh to face an Edinburgh Northern team who had only recorded two wins this season - what they faced was a team whose league position did not reflect their performance. The Reds had made several changes this week due to injuries, unavailability and squad rotation. The usual last-minute changes and late arrivals did not help the pre-match preparation.
The match kicked off and the first period belonged to a defiant Northern. Their powerful ball carrying, and physical defence took the Reds by surprise and much of the game was played in the Reds half. The Reds scrum was creaking under the sheer weight of a big Northern front row and the Peebles forwards were unable to provide any kind of platform for the backs.
Northern were rewarded for this period of pressure with the first try of the game after a period of forward pressure.
Northern 7 Reds 0
The Reds coaches shuffled the pack early bringing on some extra size in Ryan McConnell and Rory Milne alongside the slightly more mobile Murdo Anderson. These changes helped stabilise the pack and provide more of a platform. Unfortunately they were forced into another change soon after as captain Graham Hogarth rolled his ankle and was unable to continue. Ryan McConnell duly moved to 8 and Mark Munro returned at hooker.
The Reds finally started to find a bit of rhythm and some good hands down the blindside sent winger Cameron Thrall clear for the Reds first try, converted by Adam McDonald.
Northern 7 Reds 7
The Reds were unable to maintain this pressure as Northern again pushed them hard. David Brown and Josh Muir were enjoying the physical battle and putting themselves about. Unfortunately, the combination of the conditions and some good play by the Northern 10 - who despite his recent brush with television stardom we are delighted to note remains very much grounded by this sport that we all love - was keeping the Reds pegged back in their own half. The Reds were again forced into changes and both McConnell boys left the field due to injury, Ryan was replaced by Big Jim Weir and Greg by the returning Calum Butler. These disruptions allowed Northern scored another well-deserved try to again take the lead.
Northern 12 Reds 7
The Reds pulled it back quickly and were level at half-time, again when provided with a platform the back showed how dangerous they could be. Good hands provided Neil Pate with space to run it in from the 22.
Half-time: Northern 12 Reds 12
The Reds were blasted at half-time by coaches Smith and Nisbet. Credit had to be given to Northern who had not allowed the Reds to establish their game plan.
With the echo of that half-time "hair-dryer" still buzzing in their ears, the Reds started the second half on the front foot. A period of sustained pressure allowed Calum Butler to barge over and nudge the Reds in the lead, the score duly converted by Adam McDonald. This was quickly followed by a second try for Cameron Thrall as the Reds began to exert control on the game.
Northern 12 Reds 24
The Peebles men were finally getting their own game plan in place - the forwards were carrying well in their pods and Dan Edwards getting over the gain line in midfield. This graft allowed Adam McDonald to guide the Reds around the pitch and maintain the attack. Josh Muir was next on the score sheet as he topped off a great performance with a try, again converted by Adam McDonald.
Northern 12 Reds 31
Josh Muir had one final impact on the game as a rather robust tackle next to the Northern side line led some pushing and shoving as the Northern supporters and touch judge got involved. This merely fired up the Northern team who scored from the resulting lineout. This was Josh’s last involvement as he was substituted for his own safety (the touch judge was out for revenge.)
Northern 17 Reds 31
The Reds had the final say in the game as they worked their way back up field - in a backs fashion, after the forwards had been driving well towards the line, scrum-half Robert Harrison swooped in and stole the glory with a stretch to the line. ConConverted by Adam McDonald
Final Score: Northern 17 Reds 38
The Reds were happy to take a bonus point win away from this fixture, but every player knew that they had been in a proper game of rugby. Captain Graham Hogarth commented that this was the most physical game of the Reds' season so far. Josh Muir took man of the match award after a robust display.
The Reds would like thank Edinburgh Northern for a great game and we look forward to welcoming them the Peebles at the end of the season.