Dundee Titans (22) v Hawick 2nd XV (38), Mayfield, 2nd April 2016

The posts were down at Mayfield, so this re-scheduled  match was transferred to Riverside, where a calm, mild day and a flat, firm pitch made for ideal conditions, as the Titans entertained a Hawick side which could muster only 14 players.

Dundee kicked off and started brightly, but it was the visitors who opened the scoring, with a penalty by their stand-off after Dundee were adjudged offside during a Hawick drive near the Dundee line. 0-3 after 6 minutes.

A spell of Hawick pressure followed, but Dundee’s defence was solid and eventually a long clearance kick took play to the Hawick half. Dundee won possession and the ball was taken on by Joe Nakavulevu, who passed to Cammy McCrimmon, to score in the corner. His conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but Dundee were ahead 5-3 with 16 minutes played.

A spell of equal, mid-field play followed, with the only scoring chance being a long-range penalty attempt by Hawick which shaved the outside of the post. Then a turn-over on half-way led to a break by Cammy McCrimmon, with Christian Avis in support, running clear to touch down under the posts, leaving Cammy with a simple conversion attempt. 27 minutes gone and Dundee ahead 12-3.

Dundee were moving the ball well, but handling errors were preventing any sustained pressure on the visitors. From one such error, Hawick were able to clear to near the Dundee 22 and mount an attack, leading to a penalty offence by Dundee on the 22 in front of the posts. The Hawick No 10 slotted the kick and the lead was reduced: 12-6 after 37 minutes.

Hawick were back on the attack and the Dundee line was under threat, but a final pass went astray, bringing the half-time whistle.

Half-time: Dundee Titans 12 Hawick 2nd XV 6

Although it had been a fairly close half, there was considerable encouragement in the Dundee performance, with some structured play and a positive commitment in the break-down areas, which had not always been so evident in previous matches. But for some indifferent handling and kicking, the score might have been greater in Dundee’s favour. Nevertheless, with a developing on-shore breeze at their backs, there was some optimism that Dundee could build on their lead in the second half.

Indeed, Dundee started well, but a knock-on led to a Hawick break and a penalty against Dundee. The Hawick stand-of landed his third penalty goal and the visitors were just 3 points behind: 12-9 with 3 minutes of the half gone.

Hawick lost the ball from the re-start, however, and a fine break by James Mulligan, followed by a pass to Murray Devine led to a try. The conversion was unsuccessful,  but the lead was increased to 8 points: 45 minutes played and Dundee ahead 17-9.

That lead lasted only two minutes, however, because Hawick hit back immediately from the re-start, with their impressive Scotland U-20 No12 making the most of ineffective Dundee tackling to run from about half-way to score under the posts. The stand-off converted and the lead was reduced to just one point. 17-16 after 45 minutes.

Hawick took the initiative after the re-start and were soon pressing in the Dundee red zone. Penalty offences were not helping the Dundee effort and a yellow card award further damaged their cause. Hawick took a scrum option at a penalty on the home 5 metre line and pushed over for a converted try which put them into the lead for the first time, 17-23 after 55 minutes.

A buoyed Hawick were on the attack again and worked the ball well to the Dundee line for an unconverted try by their No 13. 17-28 with 58 minutes played.

Hope sprang for Dundee some two minutes later, after Hawick had kicked to touch from the kick-off. The ball was won by debutant Brenton Becker, who galloped some 40 metres to score. The conversion was missed and the score moved to 22-28 after 60 minutes.

It was Hawick’s turn for an attacking spell after the re-start and after a good break by their No5, Dundee were penalised in their 22 and the Hawick stand-off took the goal chance, moving the score to 31-22 with 66 minutes played, and meaning that Dundee would need two scores to regain the lead.

Dundee’s cause was aided by a Hawick knock-on at the re-start and Dundee attacked from the scrum. A kick through was too long, however, but Hawick’s drop-out went straight into touch. A Dundee knock-on, however, saw the chance lost and slack Dundee defending led to Hawick kicking through. When Dundee were penalised on their 5 metre line, Hawick took advantage of their now dominant set scrum to choose the scrummage option. Four times Dundee were penalised under scrummage pressure and each time Hawick elected to re-scrum, leading to observers on both sides wondering why a penalty try had not been awarded.. On the final occasion, a yellow card was awarded against Dundee, meaning the next scrum was uncontested. Unable to exert a push, Hawick instead moved the ball left for their No 12 to touch down in the corner. The stand-off’s kick was successful and Hawick were ahead 22-38 with a minute of normal time remaining.

At the death, Dundee were awarded their first penalty of the half and ran the ball, only for a knock-on to bring the final whistle.

Full-time: Dundee Titans 22 Hawick 2nd XV 38

After the optimism from the first half performance, it was disappointing that Dundee fell away in the second half. It seemed that the loss of stand-off Cammy McCrimmon through injury made a  damaging difference to the structure of the back line, but mention must also be made of the bizarre penalty count. Almost equal at half-time, 6-5 in Dundee’s favour, the second period saw 11 penalties to Hawick, to just the one, late award to Dundee. All credit to Hawick, however, who stuck in gamely in spite of their numerical disadvantage and the early scoring deficit.

Scorers:

Tries: McCrimmon, Avis, Devine, Becker

Conversion: McCrimmon

Dundee Player of the Match: Brenton Becke

GHA 2nd XV (40) v Dundee Titans (3), 12th March 2013.

Match Report

In the whole of Scottish (or even world) rugby, played at a serious level, can there be a half-back pairing with a combined age matching 93 years and 1 month? That’s what happened at Braidholm yesterday, when Dougie Gray and Dave Mason helped out by filling the 9 and 10 berths respectively for Dundee, and both played more than creditably.

In fact, in the first half, the whole team showed a big improvement on recent performances with a lively effort which kept them well in touch at half time, despite going behind after only 3 minutes. An early penalty against Dundee let GHA kick to touch on the right. The ball was moved left, then a cross -kick to the right was taken beautifully by former Dundee player Glen Scott, who made ground before passing inside for a colleague to score. The try was unconverted and Titans were 5-0 down.

With good handling and driving play, Dundee were on the attack from the re-start, reaching 2 metres from the GHA line, but GHA were penalised and Jordan Wright nailed the goal to reduce the lead: 5-3 after 6 minutes.

Although Dundee again resumed on the offensive, a penalty offence allowed GHA to clear their lines, and a good break saw them reach near the Dundee 22. When Dundee were again penalised, GHA worked the ball closely, before a break by their No 4 saw him reach the line, for a try converted by the stand-off. 13 minutes played and GHA ahead 12-3.

Dundee then dominated possession for the remainder of the first period, which was played mainly in the GHA half. Greater pace on the ball and security of handling, albeit much improved, could have helped put greater pressure on the GHA defence, however, and Dundee’s scoring chances were confined to two long-range penalty goal attempts, which were unsuccessful.

Half-time: GHA 12 Dundee Titans 3

In spite of another unfamiliar back-line, there was some optimism in the Dundee camp at the break, following a half with possession dominated by Titans in a much-improved performance.

GHA began the second half on the offensive, aided by a succession of penalties against Dundee. Having dominated possession for the first 10 minutes of the half, GHA launched a good attack before their stand-off chipped over the visiting defence and touched down the kick for a try which he converted to extend the lead: 19 – 3 after 50 minutes.

Dundee fought back, but lost possession and the GHA 13 hacked the ball from his own half to the Dundee 5 metre line. Although Dundee cleared, following a penalty against GHA, sustained pressure told and after 58 minutes, the GHA No 8 burst over for a try converted by the stand-off and the score moved, ominously for Dundee, to 26 -3.

It heralded a purple spell for GHA, who then killed the game off with two further tries in the next 7 minutes. From the restart, their good running play led to a try by their outside centre, converted by the stand-off with a drop kick, which he repeated four minutes later after their No 4 rounded off some good handling play with a try. 65 minutes played and GHA were ahead 40 – 3.

Game effectively over, but Dundee did not give up and made progress into the GHA red zone, where a number of penalties against the home side led to a series of Dundee 5-metre scrums. The GHA defence was equal to the pick-and-go drives however, and when Dundee knocked on and GHA cleared, the chance was gone.

Dundee continued to press, with some sustained spells of good handling, but were unable to make any inroads before being forced into touch, bringing the final whistle.

Full time: GHA 40 Dundee 3

A score, which on possession alone, perhaps flattered GHA slightly, but a greater cutting edge helped them to make the most of their opportunities in the second half. But for the fifteen-minute spell in the second half, when GHA scored four converted tries, Titans had as much, or more of the game, and with greater pace on the ball might have made the result closer.

Congratulations to Dougie and Dave, though, for an outstanding effort.

Scorer:

Penalty: Jordan Wright

Dundee Player of the Match: Dougie Gray

Dundee Titans (0) v Mussleburgh 2nd XV (44), Mayfield 5th March

Match Report

It’s one of the perversities of the game, that a side which dominates a match is often on the wrong end of the penalty count. Seldom has this oddity been as evident as it was at Mayfield when Dundee Titans entertained Musselburgh on a soft pitch and with a keen northerly blowing across the pitch. In a match of far too many penalties, the count of 24 – 9 in Titans’ favour was almost embarrassing, all the more so because Dundee were unable to gain any capital from that benefit, ending up well beaten by a useful Mussleburgh side, in spite of Titans fielding a strong-looking pack, containing many established players with 1st XV experience, admittedly with a number of forwards in an ad hoc back-line.

The match began with a spell of equal sparring until, after 8 minutes the Musselburgh blind-side flanker broke from a scrum following a Dundee knock-on and made it to the line for the opening score, which was not converted, leaving the score at 0 – 5.

Dundee’s efforts to redress the balance were aided by penalties in their favour, but a free kick against them brought a huge clearance by Musselburgh. Dundee cleared, but a back-row combination saw the Musselburgh 6 burst through at pace for a second try, and this time their scrum-half landed an excellent conversion from the touchline. 21 minutes gone and the lead increased to 12 points, 0-12.

Musselburgh were now moving the ball and handling well, resulting in a good spell of possession in the Dundee 22, before they knocked on. There were soon back in possession, however, and landed a drop goal, something of a rarity nowadays, after 25 minutes, to move the score to 0 – 15.

Dundee were now playing with more of an apparent sense of purpose, and, with more penalty assistance, gained touch in the Musselburgh 22. They drove the won ball, but lost possession and Musselburgh cleared.

A scrappy spell of play ensued as half-time approached, with Musselburgh on top and pressing in the Dundee 22. Dundee broke out but it was soon Musselburgh back on the attack, moving the ball left for their outside centre to burst over after 2 minutes of stoppage time. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful and the half time whistle went.

Half-time: Dundee Titans 0 Mussleburgh 2nd XV 20

Some spirited, if disjointed, play by a Dundee side. If the penalty count remained so much in their favour, perhaps the second half would see a reversal of fortunes.

That this was not to be the case was perhaps indicated by Dundee’s kick-off going straight into touch. Although Musselburgh was penalised shortly afterwards, so, too were Dundee, and the Musselburgh scrum-half duly obliged with a goal which stretched the score to 0 – 23, with 3 minutes of the half played.

In spite of the next kick-off also going straight out, Dundee then managed to gain the Musselburgh 22, only for a penalty to be awarded against them and another long Musselburgh clearance took play to the home 22. The Musselburgh drive led to a penalty against Dundee, and another kick to touch, and drive, before the ball was moved left for the Musselburgh inside centre to score. Scrum-half converted and the score moved to 0-30 after 53 minutes.

A Dundee break out and kick ahead led to a penalty for a late tackle, and Dundee chose the scrum where the ball landed, leading to a good spell of Dundee pressure, until it was ended by a penalty against. When Dundee were penalised again and Musselburgh cleared, play moved to half way and another penalty against Dundee enabled the visitors to find touch on the Dundee 22. A great move from the line-out saw their No 4 burst through all the way to the line for a converted try, making the score 0 – 37, after 62 minutes.

Dundee pressed after the re-start and made it to the Musselburgh 5-metre line, only for poor execution to thwart their effort. A series of penalties against Musselburgh, including a yellow card dismissal, followed, with Dundee taking scrummage options, but Dundee were unable to take advantage of the temporary territorial and numerical superiority.

The match ended with a Musselburgh drive leading to a try by their No 8, converted again by their scrum-half, with the last kick of the match.

Full-time: Dundee Titans 0 Musselburgh 2nd XV 44

An error-strewn match, not helped by the number of penalties, which also contributed to a lack of cohesion. From a Dundee perspective it was particularly disappointing that a side which looked strong on paper, at least regarding the forwards, offered so little challenge.

Dundee Player of the Match: Andy Clarkson

Marr (37) v Dundee HSFP (14), Fullerton, Feb 27th

Match Report

It seems the Dundee match reporter at the previous Fullerton league fixture this season may have touched a local nerve or two, so, to set the record straight, it should be observed that, for this BT Cup tie, the weather was perfect, with little cloud and little wind, the bus journey was smooth and uneventful, with an earlier than scheduled arrival, the hospitality was warm and immediate and any references to Dundee by the excellent and entertaining lunch-time speakers, Glenn and Tony, were generally circumspect and inoffensively amusing!

Post-match hospitality was also excellent, and a credit to Marr, so it was just a pity that the bit in the middle didn’t satisfy to the same extent.

Certainly, Dundee played with some determination, even with a number of players well away from their normal positions, but handling errors and the lack of a cutting thrust brought second place in a somewhat turgid game.

Dundee kicked off and were soon on the attack, but a promising, planned backs’ move ended with a knock-on, a feature which was to afflict the Dundee performance throughout the afternoon. When Dundee were penalised after 5 minutes, Marr centre Colin Sturgeon slotted the kick from 15 metres in from touch and Marr were ahead, 3-0.

Dundee were on the attack from the re-start, gaining the home 22. A Marr knock-on gave Dundee a scrum and, with the Marr pack retreating, Andy Dymock picked the ball and broke down the right, with Gavin Hughan on his inside to take the scoring pass. Duncan Leese’s conversion gave Dundee the lead: 3-7 after 8 minutes.

Dundee were on the attack again after the re-start but a penalty to Marr robbed Dundee of any momentum. A good Marr break took play to the Dundee 22 where the visitors were penalised and temporarily reduced to 14 men with the production of a yellow card. The offence gave Colin Sturgeon another goal opportunity, which he took, the reduce the deficit: 6-7 with 14 minutes played.

A good break by Ronan Joy, supported by Cammy McCrimmon returned the action to the Marr 22 and further drives took play to the Marr 5m line, only for the ball to be lost. With play returned to the Dundee half after a Dundee penalty goal miss, a great break from a Marr scrum saw the ball pass through 4 pairs of hands before being touched down by speedy wing Stuart Howie. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but Marr were back in the lead after 22 minutes, 11-7.

Marr were slowly gaining the upper hand, but penalty offences by both sides and further indifferent handling by Dundee were preventing any flowing consistency for the next ten minutes. Then Marr gained possession and moved the ball right for wing Scott Bickerstaff to burst through at pace and score near the posts. The straightforward conversion by Colin Sturgeon extended Marr’s lead to 11 points: 18-7 after 32 minutes.

Dundee started well again from the re-start, but again the threat foundered on a knock-on in the Marr 22. With half-time imminent, a Dundee error led to a Marr scrum in their own half. The ball was fed to Scott Bickerstaff who again broke clear at pace before passing to fellow winger Stuart Howie who touched down. With Colin Sturgeon again converting, Marr were in the driving seat at 25-7 as half-time was called.

Half-time: Marr 25 Dundee 7

Marr had gradually exerted more pressure as the half had progressed, although there was little pace to their play, other than that shown by the two wingers. For Dundee’s part, too many errors were not helping the cause.

Dundee tried hard to get back into the game after the resumption. A fine break by Pete Redmayne looked promising and after he had kicked ahead, Marr were penalised for holding on. Dundee kicked to touch, Marr were penalised again, Dundee kicked to touch again, and the planned line-out move saw Alan Brown barge over for a try which Duncan Leese converted. 45 minutes played and the score was 25 -14.

More errors affected the flow during the next ten minutes until Colin Sturgeon made a great break following a Marr scrum and made it all the way to the line for a try which he converted, extending Marr’s lead to a comfortable 18 points: 32 -14 with 58 minutes gone.

Dundee were showing some ability to move the ball at pace, but all too often, indifferent passing, knock-ons and turn-overs were denying them the chance to exert serious pressure in the Marr red zone.

As the game entered its final stages, Dundee found touch directly, from just outside their 22, and Marr pressed from the resultant line-out until No8 Ben Johnston burst over. The try was converted by Colin Sturgeon with four minutes of normal time remaining. 37-14.

Dundee’s final efforts were formed round line-out drives, but, perhaps in keeping with other parts of the performance, the game ended with a Dundee throw-in being adjudged not straight.

Full-time: Marr 37 Dundee 14

Dundee had most of the territory and possession in the second half and, with so many players playing out of position, could be commended for their determination. A cutting edge will be required, however, to have a chance of turning possession into points, as will a drastic reduction in errors.

Scorers:

Tries: Gavin Hughan, Alan Brown

Conversions: Duncan Leese (2)

Dundee Player of the Match: Andy Dymock

Dundee HSFP (27) v Falkirk (19), Mayfield, 20th Feb 2016

Match Report

Mayfield was on the soft side and a keen wind was blowing from the Pavilion end as Dundee kicked off this postponed third round BT Cup tie, and were penalised very early on. Falkirk kicked to touch, but lost the line-out. A knock-on hampered Dundee and a second penalty allowed the Falkirk stand-off a goal chance from the 22 and he duly obliged, putting the visitors 0-3 ahead after just 4 minutes.

Dundee resumed on the attack with some good, sustained possession and early suggestions of Dundee scrum superiority were confirmed when Falkirk opted for another line out after a Dundee squint throw. When Dundee were penalised on the Falkirk 10 metre line Falkirk kicked to touch and drove the line-out possession to the Dundee 22. Dundee were again penalised and Falkirk tried a quick tap and go, but were pulled back by the referee and resorted instead to a straightforward penalty goal, again by their stand-off. A quarter of the match played and Falkirk were ahead 0-6.

Good Dundee possession again resulted after the kick-off, but a knock-on stopped the threat. A free-kick was awarded against Falkirk, however, and Dundee pressed forward for a try by Josh Rutnagur, which Dunce Leese converted. 24 minutes played and Dundee were ahead, 7-6.

Dundee continued to have the majority of the possession, and a line-out drive from the Falkirk 10 m to 22 m lines looked ominous, but was eventually held and the half ended without further scoring.

Half-time: Dundee 7 Falkirk 6

Despite playing against the wind, Dundee had enough of the game to be further ahead, and the set scrum was exerting pressure on Falkirk, but, without a potent cutting thrust, seldom did it seem that possession was to be turned into points.

Two early penalties enabled Falkirk to gain the Dundee 22 and stand-off Brins slotted the second one to regain the lead for Falkirk after 2 minutes of the half. 7-9.

Dundee resumed, again on the offensive, but their hopes were given a severe dent when the Falkirk scrum-half, Russell, intercepted a pass well inside his own half and raced unopposed to the Dundee line for a try which stand-of Brins converted. 7-16, after 46 minutes.

Worse was to come for Dundee six minutes later when a penalty for talking back allowed Brins to land a long-range penalty, increasing Falkirk’s lead to 12 points: 7-19 with 52 minutes played.

With no evidence of panic, however, Dundee hit back at pace and secured a long period of possession in the Falkirk 22. When the visitors were temporarily reduced to 14 men, Dundee made the pressure tell and, after a quick drive, Alan Brown barged over under the posts, giving Duncan Leese the simplest of conversions. 58 minutes played and Dundee within distance at 14-19.

There was a brighter aspect to Dundee’s play now and they continued to attack, with the lion’s share of possession. When Falkirk were penalised, Dundee kicked to touch in the Falkirk 22 and exerted a big drive from the line-out to reach the Falkirk 5 metre line. The ball was then flung right, where Mike Brown was on hand to run in for the score. Duncan’s kick was unsuccessful and the scores were level at 19-all with 66 minutes gone.

Mid-field penalty exchanges prevented any sustained continuity, but when Dundee were awarded one penalty, they kicked to touch on the Falkirk 22. There was a repeat of the line-out drive of the first half, but this time the pack made it all the way to the Falkirk line for Gavin Hughan to touch down . The conversion attempt was again unsuccessful but Dundee were again ahead, 24-19 after 73 minutes.

Dundee continued to press for the remainder of the match, but stout Falkirk defence prevented further scoring, until the very last kick. Having missed with a penalty attempt in the Falkirk 22, Duncan, made no mistake with a second opportunity, closing out the game as the final whistle followed the goal.

Full-time: Dundee 27 Falkirk 19

A victory which was probably deserved, given the amount of possession and scrum superiority. With a greater attacking thrust, the win might have been secured more comfortably, but that would be to deny the excellent defensive display by Falkirk.

Scorers:

Tries: Rutnagur, A Brown, M Brown, Hughan

Conversions: Leese (2)

Penalties: Leese

Dundee Man of the Match: Gavin Hughan