Perfect conditions, with only a slight cross pitch wind greeted the teams at Arboretum, for the first league game of the BT East 2 season.
Although playing on a very narrow pitch, Portobello were looking to put in place a fast paced and wide game plan. In what could be classed as a perfect start, Porty gained a penalty on the Inverleith 22, which was slotted over by Chris Britee-Steer (Cree). 3-0 Portobello.
From the resulting kick-off, whilst clearing the lines with a kick to touch, Cree took a bad knock on the ankle, which meant that after just 5 minutes of play, Portobello were forced into a substitution and a change to the back line. Keith Jeffrey moved from 15 to 10, with Robbie Stewart coming on to play full back.
Portobello continued to dominate the opening passage of play, and kicked another penalty deep into the 22. A good drive from the pack set the back line up, but unfortunately the ball went to deck. The score line could have increased, after Ali Bain took advantage of some scrappy play from both sides, and broke the Inverleith line, his chip through was perfectly weighted, but luck was on Inverleith’s side as the ball just evaded both Eddie Robb and Mitchel Walker, and they got the ball down for a 22 drop out.
The Portobello defence had been strong, with quick line speed stopping Inverleith from having too many opportunities. The chance to increase the lead, was squandered after a penalty slid just right of the posts as half time approached.
Another injury just before half time saw Donald Burn go down with a (reoccurring) knee injury. This brought David Webster (Flexi) on to prop, with Ryan Stoddart moving to hook. Flexi made an immediate impact, unfortunately it was for the wrong reasons. After the pack gave away a penalty on our 5m line, he received a yellow card. Inverleith elected to scrum again (unopposed for the next 10 minutes), they used their numbers well, and went in under the posts. Half time 7-3, Portobello unlucky not to go in ahead.
With 9 and a half minutes of the second half to play with a man down, Portobello stood firm in defence, and kept the score line as it was at half time.
That defensive effort however, had taken its toll on the Porty boys, as the line speed dropped allowing Inverleith much more possession. Although some big hits from Murray Boyter, Ronnie Mason and George Parker stopped them from scoring a try, they did manage a penalty success. 10-3.
Into the final 15 minutes of the game, and Inverleith took advantage of some poor ruck defence, as a pick and go was left to go through to score. Unconverted, 15-3.
The last 10 minutes was all Porty, with strong carries from 2nd row partnership Cammy Walker, and Darren Roe. Porty were camped in the Inverleith 22, with penalty after penalty being kicked into the corner, unfortunately the boys weren’t able to get the try which that period of play deserved.
All in all, a frustrating and disappointing afternoon for the boys in Navy and Gold, with areas to work.
Next week sees Leith RFC coming to Cavalry Park, which is also the clubs Ladies Day. 3pm kick off, see you there.