ST ANDREWS MEN’S 1STS                    20     –         41                  EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY 1STS

Stuart Milne

THE MEN’S RUGBY 1ST XV were struck again last week by what the team calls, “the curse of half-time.”
The Saints started well against a visiting Edinburgh side that began the match at the head of the BUCS Scottish Conference.  They led at the break with two tries to Edinburgh’s one, but could not stop a spirited comeback by the visitors who dominated the second half, comfortably winning 41-20.

The team did acknowledge that this has unfortunately been a consistent problem throughout St Andrews’ season thus far.
“We get up in the first half, and then in the first 20 minutes of the second half we seem to switch off and get a little bit complacent,” said Saints captain Steven Sims.  “Then we don’t play until the game’s really lost.”

The home side opened the scoring with a well-worked try from Stewart Coleman in the first ten minutes, which kicker Sims duly converted.  However, Edinburgh replied ruthlessly with a try of their own moments later to tie the game at 7-7.

The score remained even until the game approached the half-hour mark, as Alan Little scored the first of his two tries of the afternoon to put St Andrews back in front, although Sims wasn’t able to take the conversion chance.

Edinburgh looked determined to get another try before the break, but a dogged defence by the Saints over the final ten minutes kept the conference leaders out until the half-time whistle.

Unfortunately for St Andrews, the confidence and control that had served them well in the game’s first portion was nowhere to be seen at the start of the second half.

Error-strewn play from the Saints gifted Edinburgh three tries in just ten minutes, a period Saints director of rugby David Ross described as, “some of the worst rugby that we’ve actually played as a team this season.”

St Andrews would concede still more points before finally recovering to mount a sustained offensive, Little’s second try cutting the hosts’ deficit to 14 points with under 20 minutes to go.

Ross praised the physical leadership of the Saints captain, who late in the game repeatedly threw himself at the Edinburgh defence to create something of an attacking drive for the battered home side.

“It’s all very well telling people to run hard at defences and shouting in their faces,” Sims himself explained, “but if you’re not doing it yourself then no one’s going to listen.”

There was to be no miracle comeback for St Andrews however, as yet another Edinburgh try in the dying moments of the match extended the visitors’ victory to 21 points.

Ross made it clear that Edinburgh outperformed the Saints at the game’s most basic levels.

“The biggest thing that they did was that they made their tackles and we didn’t,” he said.  “When you miss tackles you’re going to concede points.”

The win sees Edinburgh remain undefeated in first place in the Scottish Conference, ahead of Aberdeen on points difference. The Saints’ 2-0-2 record leaves them six points behind the leaders and out of realistic title contention, although Ross believes St Andrews can still play the role of kingmaker when defending champions Aberdeen come to town on 1st December.

“The aim now is to go through the season undefeated,” Ross explained.  “That goal is something that we can achieve, but we need to play a lot better than we did today.”

They have the chance to do that with a trip to  fifth-placed Heriot-Watt before they then host Aberdeen.

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