Penicuik travelled to Union Park for the opening game of season 2021/22 with a depleted squad. Both first choice hookers were out injured meaning a move for prop Darren Pearson to the number 2 shirt for the first time. The lack of front row cover meant Penicuik were only allowed to have 3 subs named, this proved costly as both starting wingers were withdrawn with leg injuries within 5 mins either side of the half time whistle. The reshuffle resulted in back row sub Andy Young spending the majority of the second half on the wing.
Penicuik started the game strongly attacking up the hill towards the clubhouse, series of carries inside the Corstorphine 22 resulted in an early penalty chance for Malone which was put wide. The pressure continued and an offside penalty in front of the posts gave Malone another opportunity to open his account for the season which he duly took. 3-0 Penicuik Corstorphine started to build up phases and were pushing hard inside the Penicuik 22 with their Stand off looking to pass wide only for Sean Thomson to intercept and run unobstructed to score under the posts. Malone converted 10-0 with 10mins gone. The home team started to push hard, poor tackling in the middle of the pitch allowed Corstorphine to break from half way to the Penicuik 5min, last ditch tackle stopped the man however he was able to off-load too the supporting centre to touch down under the posts 10-7 The Penicuik lineout miss-fired all game, and on 26mins a tap back from a lineout on half way was gathered up by Corstorphine who broke down the right wing, the Penicuik defense held well under a series of moves, however was eventually caught short out wide allowing their winger to score in the left corner. 5 mins before half time Penicuik suffered a triple blow, not rolling way from the tackle allowed Corstorphine an easy 3 points in front of the post, the Penicuik restart was fielded by the home team who cleared the ball well from their own 22 deep into the Penicuik 22. Malone collected, however his return kick was poor and greatly accepted by the Corstorphine captain who was able to utilize a 3 v 2 to let his fellow centre score in the corner despite the tackle attempt from Penicuik debut winger Kaharau who was injured in the process and replaced by Steven Ketchen
Half Time 10-20
Penicuik started the 2nd half stronger after a halftime talking to from Blair. The forwards carried well and eventually Corstorphine were penalized for not rolling away at the tackle allowing Malone to close the gap to 7 points with a straight forward penalty. Again Penicuik attacked up the right wing from the restart, Horrell chipped the defence just outside their 22 looking for a decent bounce, however he aggravated his hamstring in the process and was immediately replaced. On 50 mins Corstorphine had their 4th and bonus point try. From a lineout on the Penicuik 5min the Corstorphine hooker missed his jumper, however the Penicuik tail fumbled the loose ball giving Corstorphine attacking ball. A series of pick and goes were knocked back by the Penicuik defense, however under a penalty advantage for not being back at the behind foot, their scrum half picked and went and with the Penicuik defence slow to react the big Corstorphine 2nd row seized his opportunity to collect and dive over from a few yards. Penicuik came back, Sean Thomson out jumped the forwards to collect the restart kick from Ross Liddle giving Penicuik an attacking platform. A series of moves in the Corstorphine half finally allowed the backs some space on the right hand blind side. Thomson fed Malone who drew the defender to allow flanker come winger Andy Young to dive over in the corner. The come back was short lived however as a from a scrum in the middle of the pitch inside the Penicuik 22 resulted in a 2nd try for the Corstorphine Captain Strachen when he crashed through 2 tackles from 10m out. With the game now lost and silly penalties from both teams at the breakdown slowing the pace, Penicuik started quick tapping at every opportunity. An attempted cross field kick from Thomson didn’t go as planned, however from the resultant loose ball, Thomson was able to regather to cross the try line in the corner only for the referee to have judged there was a foot in touch. Penicuik were able to steal the subsequent lineout and the ball was moved wide quickly where Ketchen was able to break a double tackle to open his try scoring account for the season. Penicuik tried to push for a 4th and losing bonus point try, however time was against them and a lack of discipline at the breakdown ended all hopes.
On another day this could have been a different result. Penicuik weren’t helped by the lack of pre-season games and this was their first physical encounter Since March 2020. This was evident in the tackle situation, where although some great tackles were made, Penicuik fell off tackles too easily, allowing the larger Corstorphine ball carriers the confidence to run straight at us. The number of call off’s and unavailability hindered the lineout that seen Penicuik win only 1 of their own throw, and scrum which tired in the second half and where pushed off their own ball several times. Decision making on the field needs to improve for next week and players need to trust their own ability to beat the man in front of them. This however will come from more game time which Penicuik have sadly lacked this season