1st XV vs Dundee HSFP: Match Report

1st XV vs Dundee HSFP: Match Report

dundee_high_210115_004Consider this week frames, as in pictures. There is more to them than meets the eye. A favourite is the de László frame, named after the Hungarian-born Philip de László (1869–1937) who painted portraits of Britain’s great and good. He believed that “the frame is an integral part of the picture and must be there from the beginning.”

The setting of the rugby grounds in our division feels the same. Mayfield sparkling in winter sunshine, gently thawing the overnight frost, with the Tay as a backdrop, provided a canvas to compare with the majesty of Myreside or Inverleith or the beauty of Riverside or Poynder Park. Our performance on the park, this week, did the frame justice.

Whether it was that Stewart’s Melville had much more to play for, in terms of chasing a play-off spot, or whether it was that Dundee were ‘ring rusty’ after no competitive rugby in February, or whether our natural ‘bloody mindedness’ kicked in – whatever the reason, once we managed to get a foothold in this game, you felt there was only going to be one winner.

dundee_high_210115_005Dundee started full of intent, with impeccably controlled drives from scrum and lineout. Harry Millar, Dundee’s Kiwi No. 10, pulled the strings intelligently, with McKavanagh – a redoubtable opponent over the years – a willing runner. It was no surprise, therefore, when Longwell dotted down after constant pressure from Dundee. Millar converted that try and added two penalties.

Our defence at this stage was heroic, with Hugh Lindsay and Andrew Manson just relishing the physical challenge. The first twenty minutes belonged to Dundee, with, it has to be said, a considerable wind advantage – which was later to dissipate.

When Stewart’s Melville did manage to put together a bit of play, uncharacteristic handling errors let us down. The lineout has been a running sore for us for a long time, but we managed to show some enterprise and variation to pretty well secure our own throw-in. The ‘talk of the steamie’ was the performance of the Edinburgh hooker the previous night, who came on as a substitute against Ulster and fatally wounded Edinburgh’s chances by throwing the ball in squint repeatedly.

dundee_high_210115_006It’s all in the top two inches. It’s like putting at golf or goal kicking – your body knows how to do it, and it is no bother in practice, but the mind focusses on outcome rather than process. Get ready, then throw – the longer you prevaricate, the greater the chance of negative thoughts creeping in. As Lee Trevino says: ‘if you must miss it, miss it quickly!’

The scrum was even, but, towards the end of the match, Stewart’s Melville started to get the upper hand in this area, and the ball was presented beautifully for the backs.

dundee_high_210115_007Possibly the turning point of the match occurred towards the end of the half when Mike Hanning sought to counter. He attempted to chip the on-rushing defence but his kick was charged down. The referee ruled knock-on, pointing to the position of the Dundee attacker’s hands. Later, when the aforementioned Hanning cleverly touched down near the uprights, following a McCashin break, it meant we turned round 13-7 down rather than 20-0 down. On such small margins …

The second half was arguably our best half of rugby this season, with our wing forwards throwing themselves into tackles. What they lack in height, they more than compensate for in heart.

Dundee’s Millar had a good game but he does not possess the threat in attack that McCashin poses. And if Nick was the architect in chief, he had in Morrell the most potent attacking weapon on the pitch.

dundee_high_210115_001Matt’s bonus point try was pure determination – he should have been tackled at least twice, but, just when the tackler thinks he has nailed him, Matt somehow wriggles free.

dundee_high_210115_002Shortly after half time Rhys ran a good angle to burrow over and the conversion edged us into a one point lead; Nick then nailed a penalty from the halfway line to establish a bit of breathing space.

dundee_high_210115_003The third try was finished by Morrell, collecting the ball behind him, but owed much to several impressive dunts at the Dundee defence by backs and forwards alike.

The final five minutes were magnificent as Dundee tried ‘pick and goes’ around our line, but such was our collective spirit that every foray was repelled with aggression and intent.

For those of you that don’t know, we are currently in the play-off spot after this result and results elsewhere – albeit on points difference.

Thanks are due to the unusually large away support. We need as many supporters as possible next week against Jed-Forest – 12.30 pm kick-off. This is a good team that deserves your support

Gavin Calder


From around 1921 de László favoured the Baroque Spanish frame, and he used that for, among others, his fine portrait of Jerome K Jerome that now hangs in London’s National Portrait Gallery.


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