DEFEATED Stewart’s-Melville coach Graham Ellis looked back on yesterday’s spirited BT Cup performance with pride and urged his players to use the match as a yardstick for what the Inverleith outfit can achieve this season.
After watching his side battle gamely and contribute handsomely to an entertaining encounter before eventually going down 28-9 at home to Boroughmuir, the former Scotland hooker said: "Obviously we are disappointed to lose the match but we can take a lot of positives from it. We had a lot of good phases of play where we took the ball to Boroughmuir and put them under pressure."
And, looking to put the performance into context in terms of the Stew-Mel bid for promotion to the BT Premiership top flight, he added: "The performance shows there is no huge gulf. I hope this will give us the belief that we can compete at that level - hopefully next season."
Although comfortable winners, Boroughmuir were subjected to a stern test, which ultimately they passed with room to spare. However, it was not enough to satisfy their coach Iain Paxton, who said: "I knew it would be tough. They have been doing well in Division Two. When you get a run of success, it boosts your confidence and that showed."
"It was the cup and they had nothing to lose. They just threw everything at us. It was four tries to nil in the end, which was fairly comprehensive - but still not enough."
Paxton’s men had trouble breaking down a solid Stew-Mel defence and, despite enjoying the greater share of possession in the opening minutes, fell behind to a penalty by Sam Hendry.
James Reilly righted matters with a try, but the momentum ebbed and flowed, with Hendry and Scott Hadden exchanging penalties to give ’Muir a slender 8-6 lead at the break.
However, just before the teams turned round ’Muir prop Ramin Mathieson was red-carded for a stamping offence spotted by the touch judge. And Paxton admitted to feeling edgy at that point, saying: "When it was 14 men against 15 and it was only 8-6 at half time, it was touch and go."
A terse interval word with his men prompted them to raise the pace and a second score by Reilly created breathing space. Hendry and Hadden had another penalty apiece before the ’Muir stand off made the game safe with a well-worked try converted by Reilly.
And the scoring was completed in style with a flowing move which ended with prop John Cox touching down for number four.
That ensured his side’s place in the fifth round draw and Paxton added: "We stuck to it a bit better in the second half. It’s a game we are just glad to get out of the way."
Scorers: Stewart’s-Melville: Penalties: Hendry (3); Boroughmuir: Tries: Reilly (2), S Hadden, Cox. Conversion: Reilly; Penalties: S Hadden (2).
Stewart’s-Melville: S Burger, R Borthwick, S Hendry, S Samson, J Gordon, G Shiel, E Clark, P Wharakura, S De Beer, S Capaldi, B Leathers, S Dalgleish, D Rycroft, R Rennie, S Clark. Subs not used: E Paterson, P Hendry, G Lind, M Elliott.
Boroughmuir: J Reilly, D Brown, S Ruddick, A Sievewright, R Cairns, S Hadden, A Knight, J Cox, D Cunningham, F Lait, E Matheson, A Davidson, C Capaldi (S Waddell 68), A Martyn, B Fisher. Subs not used: R Mathieson, S Waddell, S Briers, A Hadden.
Referee: A Ireland (Grangemouth).