Dundee came roaring out of the blocks on a lovely spring day at Mayfield, described by guest lunch speaker and ex-international Stewart Campbell as about the best setting he’d ever played rugby at, and he’s played all round the world! Dundee kicked off with the strong wind (blowing down the pitch to the Dalgleish Road end) in their favour. A good Fraser McKay penalty after 4 minutes from around the 10 metre line helped ease any early nerves.
After dominating possession and territory for the next 10 minutes, Dundee suddenly caught fire, crossing for 4 unanswered tries in the next 20 as this steadily strengthening young team benefited from the quality added by the recent return of a handful of senior players. First, Ross Aitken went over just left of the posts, after a good Stuart Barlow drive. Fraser’s conversion made it 10 – 0 Dundee after 13 minutes. Kelso’s kick off was well fielded (Dundee’s restart play throughout was a vast improvement on some earlier performances this season) and a howitzer with the wind from Kieran Scoular took play from Dundee’s 22 to 10 metres from Kelso’s line. Kelso’s lineout throw went wrong, Angus Farquhar collected the overthrown ball, and a couple of drives later Stuart Barlow burst through for another Dundee try, again converted by Fraser. 17 – 0 after 16 minutes.
Once more, Dundee returned Kelso’s kick off with interest as confidence started to surge through the team – Barlow again made some hard yards and almost put McKay through, until the cover defence just pulled him down. But Borders teams never lie down, and Kelso finally started to play a bit, taking play to 30 metres out, where a penalty for a high tackle gave them their first shot at goal. The attempt drifted wide.
Dundee were using the wind well to keep play down towards Kelso’s line. An opportunity for Dundee from a 5 metre line out went abegging, but they kept pressing and a counter attack sparked by full back McKay went through the hands well, finishing with No. 4 Lewis Macnamara going over in the right hand corner for an unconverted try. Dundee 22, Kelso 0.
Yet again Kelso’s kick off was well taken, this time by Danny Levison, playing in the 2nd row, and a typical Harry Meadows 15 metre burst shredded the Kelso defence, giving Andrew Hamilton the chance to break through the last defender’s tackle and cross for his 7th try of the season, joint top along with Duncan McIntyre. Fraser’s conversion made in 29 – 0 for Dundee after 30 minutes.
Kelso at last got some traction in the game, and a tap penalty 5 metres out in the 34th minute led to centre Kindness touching down, the conversion making it Dundee 29 Kelso 7. A 2nd Dundee penalty by McKay on the stroke of half time made it 32 – 7 at the break. However, Kelso would have the strong wind in their favour in the 2nd half. Could they “do a Scotland”…?
Angus Thomson replaced Danny Levison at half time, and Dundee started the 2nd half in the same fashion as the first, a great “1 – 2” by Lewis Macnamara almost letting the big man over in the far corner straight away, until the cover defence just overtook him. The try was not long delayed, Lewis again making ground and scrum half Stewart Lathangie dummying over for his first try of the season. Dundee 39 – Kelso 7.
Kelso responded with the first of 2 tries from second row Common coming after 48 minutes from a rolling maul after a Kelso lineout 5 metres out. Dundee 39, Kelso 12.
Harry Mercer came on for Andrew Hamilton, and Kieran D’Aeth for Ruaridh Hood, as Dundee started to use their strong bench. Kieran was not to last long on the pitch, however. A Kelso kick ahead down his wing led to a collision as the players chased the rolling ball, deemed unfair by the referee and resulting in a yellow card for him after just 5 minutes on the pitch. From the Kelso penalty, kicked to the corner, another try ensued for No. 5 Common, duly converted, and narrowed the score to 39 – 19 in Dundee’s favour, with 56 minutes gone on the clock.
Down to 14 men, against the wind and with a series of penalties in Kelso’s favour, Dundee now started to struggle a little, and the large travelling Kelso support began to find their voice as their team pressed on a Dundee side pinned down in their own half. Good play by McIntyre and Aitken, finishing in a Dundee penalty, at last eased the pressure.
Pace can be so important in rugby, and so it proved as Dundee worked the ball out to the now restored Kieran D’Aeth on the half way line, who took off down his left wing, showing the Kelso defence a clean pair of heels with a strong run for Dundee’s 6th try, converted by McKay, to put the game beyond Kelso’s reach at 46 – 19 with just over 10 minutes left.
No 6 Donald Sangster had picked up a knock and made way for Kevin Franco, and the hard working Jack Newth was replaced by Lewis McLean as Dundee made full use of their bench. Defence was now the order of the day – Angus Farquhar, Harry Mercer, Ross Aitken, Andy Elton and Duncan McIntyre all adding to their tackle counts as Kelso pressed for the bonus point try. Eventually, however, the home defence ran out of numbers, and Kelso No. 6 Brown crossed to secure the bonus point. A yellow card shortly after for Stewart Lathangie left a tired Dundee unable to hold out against Kelso’s last play, and their closing try made the final score Dundee 46, Kelso 29.
Dundee Team: 15 Fraser Mackay, 14 Kieran Scoular, 13 Duncan McIntyre, 12 Andrew Hamilton, 11 Ruaridh Hood, 10 Ross Aitken, 9 Stewart Lathangie; 1 Jack Newth, 2 Andy Elton, 3 Harry Meadows, 4 Lewis Macnamara, 5 Danny Levison , 6 Donald Sangster, 7 Angus Farquhar, 8 Stuart Barlow
Replacements 16 Lewis McLean, 17 Kev Franco, 18 Angus Thomson, 19 Harry Mercer, 20 Kieran D’Aeth