1st XV vs Dundee HSFP: Match Report
What makes rugby such a compelling team game is the mixture of skill and bravery required to succeed. Plenty of times in the past we have travelled to the Borders with a squad of physically imposing and talented individuals, only to be blown away by the superior ‘heart’ of our hosts.
On Saturday, Dundee travelled to Edinburgh with a team eager to bounce back quickly to the top flight in Scottish club rugby. They were, however, eventually undone by a Stew/Mel side who fought every inch of the way, and, once they had established a lead, tackled as if their lives depended on it.
It is impossible to coach ‘heart’ – you can only create an environment in which attributes like hard work and commitment are rewarded – so full marks to the management team and coaches.
Early pressure brought a penalty and Mike Hanning duly obliged. Playing towards the clubhouse, Jon Hamblin then crashed over near the sticks, after a period of sustained forward effort, with Mike completing the goal.
A word about Jon. Last year we had Chris Damsteegt as a finisher for the forward drives, and it could be that, as Jon gets fitter and more involved, he will step up to the plate in that regard – he certainly takes a bit of stopping from five yards out.
Unfortunately, Mike then missed what was – in golfing terms – a three footer, left edge. That penalty would have given us a deserved thirteen point cushion, but, as is so often the case, a miss at one end was balanced by a successful pot at the other as Dundee opened their account through Dymock. Dundee at this time lost a man, Cumming, to the bin, and this seemed to shake our visitors into life; they finished the half the stronger, with scrum half Dymock touching down.
At the end of the half we lost Fraser Strachan with a yellow – his interpretation of fair rucking and the referee’s differed somewhat! The photo above shows Banger moonlighting as a flanker as a result.
Whereas the first half had been dominated by Stewart’s Melville, with Dundee coming back into it at the end, the second half was much more evenly contested, with unforced errors on both sides. It was no surprise, therefore, when Russell barged over to give Dundee the lead. Mike Hanning replied with another penalty, keeping the head down as he drilled it through the uprights.
Dundee edged ahead when Brown scampered over, but Dymock was unable to convert. Our line out, which had been seamless, started to malfunction, but we kept the pressure on Dundee. Mike was able to turn the Dundee back three with his tactical kicking, which gave our chasers every chance of nailing the opposition (particularly as we chased in numbers).
Whittingham duly jinked his way over in the Holy Cross corner to tie things up and Mike accepted a chance late on to give Stew/Mel the lead with a penalty. We tried to run the clock down, but, as yet, we are not good enough to be totally clinical in that area, and were penalised for falling down without being tackled. Dundee spurned a penalty that would have, deservedly, tied things up to go for the corner. From the line out, they rumbled, but could find no way through the committed defence.
A great team effort, then, especially from the usual suspects – Aitken, Sangster and Hampton – but an honourable mention in dispatches for Messrs McCall and Hart, who had their first starts for the club. We travel to Kelso this weekend – more of the same, please!