Edinburgh Eagles (28) 42
Tries: Paterson, Clarke, Mair (2), Logan, Hamner (2), McKinney Goals: Clarke (5)
Strathmore Silverbacks (8) 34
Tries: Feighan (2), Genocchio, Strachan, Smith, Olivier, Gray Goals: Alexander(3)
A rematch of the 2017 Scottish Grand Final saw Edinburgh Eagles win a closely contested match against Strathmore Silverbacks in the warm Edinburgh sunshine.
As could be expected for the first game of the season, and with temperatures comfortably into double figures, there were numerous handling errors from both sides however it did not stop them serving up an entertaining game for the watching spectators who won’t have regreted their decision to attend.
Eagles took advantage of the wind in the first half and applied some early pressure which after a flowing passing move from right to left, saw Alex Paterson score the opening try of the game. The Eagles players were clearly in the mood to impress the coach ahead of their first appearance in the North East Cup later this month and after Strathmore made a mistake at the scrum, Eagles advanced from deep inside their own half for Lewis Clarke to score in his first game back from Australia. Clarke also successfully kicked the conversion to give the home side a 10-0 advantage.
Strathmore gradually found their way back into the game and scored a try of their own, however this did not signal a change in the flow of the game as a mistake at the kick off gave another opportunity for Eagles to score through debutant Mikey Mair. Clarke again successful with the boot.
Eagles backed up this score when a strong run from Terry Skeet saw him power over for his first try of the season, closely followed a second from Mair was on hand to score after an error from Strathmore saw them lose possession. Clarke duly obliged with the extras in both cases.
Strathmore never lay down and managed to socre another try of their own just before half time after a series of penalties on The Eagles try line to make it 28-8 to the home side at half time.
Whatever Stuart Gray said to his troops during the Strathmore team talk did the trick as, with the wind and slight slope advantage in their favour, they came bursting out of the blocks to score two quick fire tries. Eagles finally seemed to get back in to their rhythm when a barnstorming charge from Nick Hanmer saw him go over from 30 metres.
The heat was having an effect on all players and neither side never threw in the towel, with Strathmore replying to the Eagles try with another one of their own before man of the match Luke McKinney scored a try which was a just reward for the forward and his hard running up the middle of the pitch all afternoon. Clarke converted but the yo-yo nature of the half saw Strathmore score again before Nick Hanmer got his second of the afternoon.
Strathmore still weren’t finished and scored the final try of the afternoon to make the score 42-34 and leave the Scottish Championship finely poised for Saturday 16 June and the return fixture in Forfar.
A limited number of seats will be available on the team bus for this match for anyone wanting to support the team.
Eagles coach Barry McGuffog commented;
Obviously I’m delighted to get the win, that was the most important thing, but I’m a little disappointed with the score line. We put ourselves in a great position at half time but didn’t kick on from there and credit to Strathmore, they never gave in and made us really fight for it in the second half. At times we played some really good stuff but at times we played a bit dumb and were our own worst enemies. That said, I’m not gonna to be too hard on the boys as there’s plenty of positives to take from the game. The bottom line is it was the first proper hit out of the season and a win’s a win. We’ve got some stuff to work on in training and we can build on today’s performance going forward to the cup game in three weeks and the return fixture in June.
“I’d just like to thank Nap and Alex who were a massive help on the sideline today, and also the crowd of approximately thirty who came along and watched what I imagine was a highly entertaining game from a spectators point of view. Hopefully we’ll see you all again” McGuffog added.
Photo courtesy of https://jaxmackenziephotography.smugmug.com/