Dundee HSFP v Selkirk, Mayfield , 16th September 2017
President Tosh’s witty and exceptionally funny address, delivered in his inimitable style , to the Lunch Club guests in the Mayfield clubhouse got the pre match entertainment off to a splendid start . There were several well kent faces at the Lunch Club, none more welcome that Campbell Cunningham, the Dundee flanker who suffered a broken ankle in the previous home match . Your reporter is delighted to confirm that Campbell is in good spirits and looking to get fit again as soon as possible. They make them tough in the Marines……..
The prematch chat amongst the Mayfield faithful was the need for Dundee to get a home victory against Selkirk, following the close defeat at Gala the previous week. However, it was noted that Selkirk had enjoyed a good start to the season , with 2 wins out of 2 against Musselburgh and Aberdeen Grammar.
The Dundee starting line-up showed a number of changes from the team that played Gala. Ronan was out with a back injury, young Cammie Mathieson replaced Chris Cartnell at hooker and there were welcome returns for George Arnot and Danny Levison . Big bad Broonie was also a late call off, with Lewis McLean replacing him and Neil Dymock taking Lewis’s place on the bench.
Unfortunately – in fact , more than unfortunately – certainly sadly and even bordering on the tragically – came the news that the fans favourite and potential match winner Ice would be missing from the Dundee line up for the next 3 months as his latest Army assignment takes him to Cyprus. Whilst it is recognised that Defence of the Realm is important, surely with United Kingdom’s official terror threat alert having been raised to critical this week, a role could have been found for Ice within these shores………………
There were audible gasps from the crowd as Dundee took the field , for the first time resplendent in their new change strip , a bright orange/tangerine/old gold (more of which later). It was certainly distinctive and certainly could not be confused with Selkirk’s comparatively dowdy blue strip.
Once again, the Mayfield crowd got 2 games for the price of one, with Dundee Titans facing Selkirk on the bottom pitch. The return of the University students had resulted in a healthy turn out at training, with coaching and management team of Clinton Davey, Ian Robertson and Jimmy Michie having a strong team out.
The Ist XV match got under way, with the play concentrated in midfield for the opening exchanges. It was noted that Selkirk had some big units in their team and they looked very comfortable in possession. Early on, it became apparent that this was going to be no repetition of Dundee’s 60 point win the last time Selkirk came to Mayfield.
However, it was Dundee who took the lead after 10 minutes. Following a ruck outside their 22, the Selkirk 10 did the wrong thing – he aimed his clearing kick in the direction of Danny Levison. Danny took the ball on the run , bounced one Selkirk player out of the way , sidestepped another and the gave a well timed pass for Danny McGinn to sprint for the line. Danny was caught, but the ball was recycled for Neil Turnbull to rumble over the line.
Fraser McKay added the conversion. 7-0 to Dundee 10 mins.
Following the restart , Selkirk enjoyed a period of sustained pressure , retaining possession admirably. However a loose pass on the Dundee 22 was intercepted by Fraser McKay who set off for the long sprint to the Selkirk line. As he made it past the Selkirk 22 , it seemed likely that he would be caught by the Selkirk winger , but remarkably Fraser got there to score between the posts.
He then dusted himself down and made a successful conversion. 14-0 Dundee 15 mins.
While 2 converted tries in the first 15 minutes is a good start in any match, there was still an uneasy feeling amongst the Dundee support on the touchline as Selklrk had by far more possession, and , as in previous weeks , the penalty count against Dundee was mounting.
The Dundee defence was impressive, but after 25 minutes the inevitable happened when hooker Forrest scored in the corner . This was converted by Banks . 14-7 Dundee.
At this point, Danny McGinn limped off to be replaced by Jack Paladini , son of well known Broughty Ferryite Sandro. Jack is an ex captain of the Dundee High school team and Dundee Eagles and he received a warm welcome from the crowd – it is always good when one of “your ain” return.
Selkirk continued to dominate, spreading the ball wide to their wingers, who then brought the ball back in to be moved again, with newcomers Dama and Wagner – unlikely to have been of pure Borders stock but certainly giving their all for the Selkirk jersey – to the fore.
This tactic was stretching the Dundee defence as it was no surprise when centre McColm scored a try for Selkirk. The conversion was missed . 14-12 Dundee.
2 minutes later, Selkirk scored again, with a couple of missed tackles enabling winger Hendrie to score in the corner. 17-14 Selkirk, 35 minutes gone.
The Dundee support at this stage had turned grumpy, having witnessed the match go pear-shaped, and the earlier 14-0 lead being wiped out
However, smiles were soon back in evidence , as in what seemed like their first attack for around half an hour , Dundee retained their lead with a try by Dundee flanker Paddy Hamilton. The conversion was missed, followed by the half time whistle.
Half Time – Dundee 19 Selkirk 17.
The new Dundee strip was the talk of the steamie at half time , with differing views as to the both the attractiveness of the top and also what actual colour it was . In general , there was a positive response to the colour , although Gavin Garden – never one to toe the party line or indeed to hold back his views – though that the top was awful. Well , his actual comments were more explicit than that and are certainly not for publication , but thanks Gavin – your views are noted.
As regards the colour , the popular choices seemed to be orange , tangerine or old gold and in order to test the views of the Mayfield faithful , your reporter carried out a straw poll amongst the crowd at half time.
Old gold was understandably favoured by the traditionalists.
There was general opposition to the word “orange” as it was feared that there were connotations with this word ie it could be pre-fixed by the world “Loyal” and there was no great desire amongst the troops on the touchline and in the stand to see the Dundee team marched onto the pitch by a flute band with “The Sash” being belted out on the PA system.
The proposal that the strip was tangerine also provoked seriously strong reactions.
Those misguided enough to be of a Dens Park persuasion were not keen at all on this idea, with Gary Stewart , father of hooker Cammie , declaring the views of many that he never could and never would support an team in tangerine .
Conversely the Arabs in the Mayfield crowd thought that Dundee High Rugby playing in tangerine was a jolly splendid idea as it would give them the opportunity to watch a team in tangerine that were entertaining to watch , as opposed to the turgid fare being served up by the lot currently wearing tangerine at Tannadice.
Overall, the support for each colour was roughly the same, so your reporter took the responsibility of making the casting vote.
As a long standing Arab , there was a no brainer.
And the winner is…………………… TANGERINE .
So, for the rest of the season , in your reporter’s match report, the change strip will be referred to as tangerine.
One supporter pointed out that regardless whether it was called orange , tangerine or old gold , the top clashed with the red and blue socks. The supporter was female. Not gender neutral. Female.
Whilst this may be a valid point , it was unlikely that this was uppermost in coach Sangster’s thoughts as he addressed his team at half time. The message was – get the ball, keep it , get some rhythm going and cut down on the penalties.
Unfortunately, the second half started in the same manner as the first half – Selkirk securing the ball and retaining possession. A couple of quickfire penalties to Selkirk confirmed the fear that the second half would be more of the same and from one of these penalties , fly half Banks scored to put Selkirk back in the lead. 20-19 to Selkirk.
Following this score , Dundee at last got some rhythm going – the tangerine machine eventually clicking into gear – and following strong forward play , number 8 Ally Mackie barged over near the touchline.
Fraser made a great conversion. 26-20 to Dundee.
The game then continued in the familiar pattern – Selkirk retaining possession , being very comfortable in possession , but strong Dundee defence keeping them out. Worryingly , Dundee continued to give away penalties.
However , there were occasional flashes of the high tempo running rugby that Dundee can play and one of these patches of play took Dundee into the Selkirk 22 . The ball came out along the backs and Fraser , displaying a keen rugby brain as well as excellent football skills , smashed over a drop goal.
As the match entered the last 10 minutes, the hope was that Dundee could hold on against constant Selkirk pressure. Another penalty was conceded and this time Paddy Hamilton was shown a yellow card by the referee.
Selkirk kept up the pressure , and after moving the ball along the line , winger Wagman scored in the corner.
The conversion was missed. 29-25 Dundee.
Stress levels and blood pressure levels were now rising amongst the Dundee support as Selkirk were continuing to dominate and looking dangerous each time they had the ball . The Mayfield supporters fears were justified as in the last minute some tired tackling allowed replacement Anderson to score a try which was converted to put Selkirk 32-29 ahead.
As the game entered stoppage time , Dundee forced play into the Selkirk 22 and following frantic pressure , Selkirk encroached offside and a penalty was awarded to Dundee in front of the posts.
Decision time !!!!!!
Take the points and claim an honourable draw – Fraser could have kicked it with his flip-flops on – or go for glory , take a scrum , and back yourself to go for a winning score.
This is a Dundee team with self-belief so it was not a huge surprise that the team went for the win and opted for a scrum.
Fortune favours the brave ?
Well , not this time as a knock on meant no score , end of match and a Selkirk victory.
FINAL SCORE – DUNDEE 29 SELKIRK 32
Overall , naturally a disappointing result. The players were keen to win all the matches at Mayfield this season and this aspiration has been scuppered after only 2 matches.
Although never hitting the heights that they are capable of , Dundee had chances to win this match and as coach Sangster said , they should not have lost from a position of being 9 points up with 5 minutes to play.
However , from an unbiased perspective – not mine , as I am unashamedly and proudly biased and as long as I prepare these match reports I will adhere to my journalistic principles of being biased – Selkirk had far more possession , played an attractive style of rugby , took their chances and probably deserved their win.
Another high penalty count did not help Dundee and there is no doubt that this continues to frustrate Colin Sangster .
It should be noted that the Dundee Titans had a convincing victory over Selkirk and with good numbers at training , it will make for interesting team selections for the matches v Kelso (1st XV) and Boroughmuir (Titans) next weekend.