Cartha Queen’s Park v Dundee High Rugby, 7th April 2018

The 21st league match of the season and the 21st different line-up for Dundee, including Danny McGinn in the unaccustomed position of scrum-half, in what has proved to be a challenging season. On a heavy pitch, and with the rain just starting, Cartha were the first to show, but handling, which was to prove difficult through the afternoon, let them down and Dundee cleared. Cartha looked the more purposeful of the two teams in the opening exchanges and, after 10 minutes, their efforts were rewarded when full-back Wayne Burrows slotted a penalty goal, to give the home side a 3-0 lead.

Perhaps stung into action, Dundee moved up a gear and only a minute later, George Arnott shrugged of an attempted tackle in the Cartha 22 and strolled on unopposed for a try, converted by Harvey Young, to put Dundee ahead, 3-7.

The Dundee scrum was exerting some dominance, inducing penalties by Cartha, but a series of three scrum-option penalties, which took Dundee well into the Cartha 22ended with a knock-on by Dundee. When Cartha were penalised shortly after, however, Andrew Hamilton took the kick quickly and darted over for a second score, again converted by Harvey, to extend the lead. 3 – 14, after 30 minutes.

Good Dundee handling and indifferent Cartha tackling led to several close things, before a try from Angus Farquar, converted by Harvey, increased the lead after 35 minutes: 3-21.

Three minutes later, a long Dundee clearance took play to the Cartha 22 and, when Cartha attempted to clear, the kick was charged down and followed up by Duncan Leese, who touch down the loose ball for the bonus-point try, which this time was not converted, moving the score to 3 – 26, which it remained until half-time.

Half-time: Cartha Queen’s Park 3 Dundee HSFP 26

After an indifferent start, Dundee took control of the half, aided by scrum dominance, and the challenge for the second half was to maintain the tempo, make use of scrum dominance and increase the pace.

In the event, the second half was notable for no further scoring and for nothing else. In increasingly miserable conditions, Cartha had more of the possession, but the Dundee defence was more than a match for their efforts. Dundee were seldom in attack throughout the half and it was something of a relief when the whistle sounded for no-side.

The best of the affair was that the match ended when it did, because shortly afterwards the pitch was awash, following a huge deluge.

Full-time: Cartha Queen’s Park 3 Dundee HSFP 26

Dundee scorers:

Tries: George Arnott, Andrew Hamilton, Angus Farquar, Duncan Leese.
Conversions: Harvey Young (3)

Dundee Man of the Match: Angus Farquar

Dundee High Rugby v Aberdeen Grammar, 31st March 2018

Match Report

Dundee High Rugby v Aberdeen Grammar, 31st March 2018

After the disappointing performance and result (to put it mildly) against Musselburgh last week , the Dundee coaching staff and team saw the match against Aberdeen Grammar as the perfect opportunity to get “back on the rails” – a match in front of the loyal Mayfield faithful, a local derby against our North Eastern rivals and a chance to reclaim the prestigious Dallas Allardice Cup (currently held by Grammar after their victory at Rubislaw earlier in the season).

To add to the occasion, this match hosted the first Premium Lunch Club of the season with a full house of 85 very important people, including Club sponsors Thorntons , Match Sponsors Savills and Rugby Royalty in the form of former player and BBC Rugby personality Andy Nicol.

Andy was there as the guest speaker and also to be there for the presentation to his father David Nicol, recognising a remarkable 61 years of service to Dundee High Rugby and Scottish Rugby. A more worthy recipient of an award is hard to imagine –  Dave, we salute you.

The festivities began as the great and the good were dropped off, resplendent in their finest , by their chauffeurs at the Mayfield clubhouse from midday onwards for aperitifs before retiring to the superbly decorated Glasshhouse for the Premium Lunch.

Unfortunately, no-one had told the weather that it was Easter weekend as grey skies and showers filled the Mayfield air. As was suggested at the clubhouse bar, it was as if the early arriving Aberdeen supporters had brought the typical grey Aberdeen weather with them to replace the sunshine normally encountered in our sunshine city of Dundee.

As the teams were read out by Ken McKay’s dulcit Kelty tones, Ken quite rightly drew attention to the replacement on the Dundee bench –  number 17 –  one Alan Brown.

Believe it or not, this was to be Broonie’s last match at Mayfield. After a career spanning 18 seasons and seemingly over 400 appearances for the Crown, Broonie had decided that the time had come to call it a day.  The Dog will be missed.

Dundee kicked off in their orange strip, playing towards the Dalgleish Road end.

You may note that your reporter used to refer to the change strip as “tangerine”.

However I am now going to stop doing this as I fear that by even mentioning the word tangerine, the affliction currently affecting –  nae, crippling –  the other sports team in Dundee playing in tangerine may spread from Tannadice down the Cleppie Road , Old Craigie Road and onto Mayfield . God Forbid.

 

As the teams lined up, it was noted that there were 2 ex Dundee players in the Aberdeen team –  Greg Ryan, normally a number 8 , in the unfamiliar position of centre and Robin Cessford in the back row.

Dundee exerted their authority from the start and following a good break by Harvey, the ball was shifted to Ally Mackie who seemed to cross the line to touch down. The referee saw it differently and awarded a scrum to Dundee.

No detrimental impact though, as following the scrum, Josh went blind, linked with Harvey who put Danny into the corner.                                                                            5-0 Dundee.

Harvey added the conversion.                                                                               7-0 Dundee.

In the opening 15 minutes, Ally Mackie was to the fore, gaining ground with each run. One full blooded run into Robin Cessford resembled a clash of the giants.

Harvey was also directing operations well in midfield, with well placed kicks and searing breaks, which Dallas Allardice would have approved of. Quite what Dallas (a short back and sides man) would have made of Harvey’s man bun is open to conjecture……

However just when it seemed Dundee were taking completely control of the match, Grammar scored. Winger Calum Ruxton gathered the ball in midfield and set off , evading tackle after tackle to score in the corner.

A quality individual try or defensively a poor try to concede?

There was no doubting veteran supporter Jim Scott’s view as he ignored his injured foot to jump up from his seat, exhorting the Dundee backs to “get the tackles in”…………

Scotty’s mood was not improved when Grammar 10 Bryn Perrott nailed the conversion.

7-7.

However, as if wanting to make amends for upsetting Scotty, Dundee went straight up the pitch to regain the lead.

A clever kick ahead by Harvey was seized on by Lewis McNamara and the talented young Northern Irish number 8 scored in the corner. Harvey missed the kick.                 12-7 Dundee

Dundee were in control at this stage, with Harvey and the hard-working centre combination of Leesey and Hammy to the fore and it was no surprise when Dundee scored again.

Superb link up play between back row players Lewis and Ally Mackie, assisted by George,  created space for Ally to score near the corner. Harvey narrowly missed the conversion

17-7 Dundee

It had been a satisfying half for Dundee –  a marked improvement on the horrible first half at Musselburgh the previous week –  but the shine was taken off in the last play of the half.

Following a period of Aberdeen pressure, an overlap was created and winger Grant Walker scored . Perrott added the conversion.                                                               17-14 Dundee

Half Time –  Dundee High Rugby 17 Aberdeen Grammar 14

The half time  chat amongst the Mayfield faithful was that firstly, this was an entertaining game of rugby , with both teams endeavouring to play expansive rugby.

However, there was an element of disappointment that Dundee were not further ahead as they had had by far more possession and the play had been concentrated in the Aberdeen half.

The first period of the second half was fairly even, with both teams continuing their laudable efforts to play entertaining rugby –  it should be noted that the rain had stopped but the wind still made for tricky conditions.

After 55 minutes, cue time for Broonie to enter the fray to deserved applause from the crowd. Howeve this would be nothing to the applause that he got 25 minutes later – read on to find out why….

Broonie’s presence seemed to have an immediate effect as following good inter-passing amongst the forwards, Fraser kicked ahead into space for Captain Leesey to touch down.

Harvey hit the post with the conversion.                                                                  22-14 Dundee

At this stage, the Dundee pack were getting on top –  Broonie made a difference, with Gav, George , Lewis and Ally all linking well in possession.

Indeed it was the brute force that is Ally Mackie that extended Dundee’s lead.

Following a solid line out, Josh fed Ally who smashed his way over the line.     27-14 Dundee

Harvey Young added the conversion to make it 29-14 , but it cannot go unrecorded that Ken McKay announced a successful conversion by “Harvey Wright” –  a remarkable effort by the former Club President and indeed former SRU President who was a stalwart for the club 1ST XV in the 1960s.

29-14 Dundee

There then followed a period which was probably Grammar’s best spell of the match. Cleverly placed kicks, taking advantage of the wind , meant that the Dundee defence was under severe pressure in their 22.

However, the Dundee defence was excellent, both in the forwards and the backs , with the admirable spirit of the team summed up by Captain Leesey’s shout of “keep it going – keep them out” , which reverberated around Mayfield.

However, just when it seemed that Dundee had managed the storm and with Dundee on the attack in midfield. Harvey’s long pass was intercepted by the Grammar 10 , who ran off to score in the corner . The conversion was missed.                                       29 –  19 Dundee

This gave Grammar heart as we entered the last 5 minutes of the match , but the Dundee defence continued to hold firm.

Indeed, it was Dundee who sealed victory with a score with the last play –  Ally Mackie intercepted a pass just outside the Grammar 22 and wild horses would not have stopped him crashing over for a try to the left of the posts.                                       34-19 Dundee

There then followed an incident which will live long in Mayfield folklore –

Harvey was about to slot over the conversion as the final kick of the match, when the booming call came “OK Harvey , it’s mine” .

Harvey looked up to see Broonie heading towards him, obviously intent on taking this kick  which would be the final act of his career at Mayfield.

Harvey looked bemused at this proposed play, which was not in the team game plan and looked over at Captain Leesey for advice . Captain Leesey gave the nod and the ball was passed to Broonie.

Mayfield was hushed as Broonie lined up the kick.

Deciding that the kicking tee ,as favoured by these feminine backs , was an unnecessary hassle , the bold Broonie executed a classic drop goal and the ball flew between the sticks.

Mayfield erupted and rose to Broonie.

Dog raised his arms in a football type celebration and then jumped up and down like Nellie the Elephant before being engulfed by his team mates.

A magical way to round off 18 seasons –  you could not have written the script…….

Final Score –  Dundee High 36 Aberdeen Grammar 19

 

Following the match, young Dallas Allardice –  grandson of the Dallas – presented the Cup to Broonie and Leesey . Always good to have the cup back at Mayfield.

How would your reporter sum up the match ?

  1. Very entertaining game of rugby – credit to both time for this in windy conditions.
  2. Dundee deserved the win – vastly improved performance on last week.
  3. Dundee played enterprising rugby and, just as importantly , displayed great spirit in defence when under pressure from Grammar.

 

All in all , another pretty damn good day down Mayfield way –  a successful Premium Lunch , a presentation to a club legend , a win and a bonus point and a Cup win. Cue a bar full of satisfied punters at 5pm.

As for Broonie’s conversion –  what can you say ???

 

Match Report Dundee Titans v Hawick Force, Mayfield , 10th March 2018

Match Report

Dundee Titans v Hawick Force, Mayfield , 10th March 2018

Would the weather in Dundee get better after the week of the “Beast from the East”?

Well, maybe but it was still a brutal Saturday lunchtime when the Titans kicked off against Hawick Force at 12.15pm. Horizontal wind and rain and a sodden Mayfield pitch.

So,  fair play to the team that from Hawick that had pitched up in numbers in Dundee after  a 3 hour bus journey with a full bench and an full back up team on a day when surely the tempting option would have been to stay in your scratcher , have a long lie , get up at lunchtime for a couple of beers  , then sit in the clubhouse bar to watch Ireland v Scotland and then France v England in the 6 Nations…….

Bill McLaren, Hawick’s most famous resident, would have been proud of them.

One of Bill’s famous phrases was “a day out of Hawick is a day wasted”.

An alternative view from your reporter –  who prefers the bright lights of the city to the peacefulness of the Borders – would be “ a day in Hawick is a day wasted”….but I will let the readers may up their own minds.

The Dundee Titans fielded what looked like a strong team –  Hughan and Franco brothers to the fore. For the Hughans ,it was a family affair –  Jamie was at 9 , Gav was at 8 and mum and dad and the dog were in the stand .The Kray brothers –  sorry the Francos – were in the , back row , with Titans stalwarts Andy Clarkson and Struan Gartley in the second row. In the backs, to the huge disappointment of the crowd, Hamish Livingstone was not in the centre , with Ronan Joy taking his place and Rory McGinn at 10. The front row of Lewis McLean, Ceillem and Scott Doig looked tasty. Youth was represented in the form of young Aengus McCrimmon (no I have not mis-spelt the name –  his mother is Irish), a member of the Dundee High School 1st XV, taking his place on the wing.

I have not got a scooby what the Hawick Force team was as there was no programme, but they played in green.

The match kicked off in the pissing rain.

Your reporter apologises for the seemingly industrial language, but this is considered necessary to give the reader the impression that, yes , it was not pleasant weather as we shivered in the Mayfield stand.

The initial phases of the match were a forwards battle , with the ball not seeing life beyond either teams tens.

In the first ten minutes, there were around 8 scrums –  none of which were conclusive –  and this set the tone for the afternoon.

The referee was strict as to his view as to scrum etiquette – both 9s were penalised for seemingly squint put ins –  and running rugby was understandably at a minimum.

Hawick took the lead after 15 minutes when their 10 –  who looked a tidy player-  nailed a close-range penalty after another scrum infringement.     3-0 Hawick.

In the next 10 minutes, the ball got its first airing, primarily through Hawick hands.

It was noticed amongst the inhabitants of the Mayfield stand that the Hawick left winger bore a remarkable resemblance to Hen Broon.

For younger readers who do not know who Hen Broon is,ask your Dad and Mum with the clue being Sunday Post/Broons , but the one time Hen got in full flow , Ronan covered across and absolutely flattened him.

Dundee Titans were taking a time to get into their stride, but eventually Sean Gauld in the centre had a couple of breaks that gained territory, but on a couple of occasions the final pass let the Titans down.

Hawick then forced play into the Dundee half and a good break by their number 8 created space for their right winger to head for the corner.

As noted above, the Hawick left winger was a dead ringer for Hen Broon, but the right winger was a different shape, more akin to Daphne Broon.

Anyway , Daphne scampered off for the corner , eluded the Dundee defence and scored in the corner. The conversion was missed.                                        8-0 Hawick.

The forwards battle then recommenced , with the Titans now coming more into the game , with Gavin Hughan to the fore.

The last 10 minutes of the half were spent predominantly in the Hawick 22 but the Titans found themselves up against a determined defence and when chances were created , the final pass did not go to hand and opportunities lost –  a situation which would be unfortunately mirrored against a  team in green at the Aviva stadium in a couple of hours time…..

Half time came with the Titans unable to penetrate the Hawick defence.

Half Time –  Dundee Titans 0 Hawick Force 8.

 

Coaching supremo Clinton rang the changes at half time. Jamie came off and Ceillem showed his versatility by moving from hooker to 9. Niall came on at hooker.

Dr Thomas Harding –  he with several degrees as well as being a doctor and basically all round clever bloke – also came on to exponentially increase the overall IQ level on the pitch , with Ronan going off and Clarkson moving to set up a twinkle-toes centre combination with Sean.

The second half immediately followed the same pattern as the first half ie scrum after scrum. Wayne Barnes may have let the game flow more, but unfortunately he was preparing to referee Ireland v Scotland.

Titans had the bulk of the territory in the early part of the second half but the curse of final passes not going to hand was still in evident, against it has to be said spirited defence.

Hawick then forced play towards the Titans 22 and after a period of pressure were awarded a penalty in front of the posts which their 10 nailed.     11-0 Hawick.

As the rain continued –  in fact it was generally miserable conditions all round –  the Titans approach was to keep the ball in the forwards with Struan Gartley to the fore, with several powerful runs.

However, following another move broke down, the Hawick 10 launched the ball towards the Dundee 22 and Hawick had a period of pressure . A penalty award followed which was taken successfully.                                                            14-0 Hawick.

The feeling amongst the frozen masses in the stand was that this was not going to be the Titans day. At this stage it is only appropriate that credit is given to the stalwarts that pitched up in the rain to watch the match –  President Tosh was , as always , to the fore alongside Messrs Reoch , Wright and Nicol . Gartley senior was as always good company keeping a running total of the numbers of scrums.

Special mention must be made of Captain Duncan Leese, who took his place in the stands to watch his troops. Duncan, in his final year at Uni studying for an MSc in how to save the world  , let it be known that he had a bunch of Uni work to do which had to take priority that day , so he had the choice of either watching the Titans or watching Ireland v Scotland so he had chosen , yes , the Titans…….

Dunc –  that is devotion , beyond the call of duty .  Millions would not have made your choice.

The Titans kept on going , mindful of the fact that a bonus point would prove invaluable as the end of the season beckoned and coach Clinton brought himself on to rally the troops , but once again spirited defence and a couple of unsympathetic refereeing decisions kept them out.

The final whistle went –  credit must be given to the referee  –  not many would have done his job in these miserable conditions –  and the players headed eagerly for the showers.

 

Full Time –  Dundee Titans 0 Hawick Force 14

Reflections

It must have been miserable to play in that match, so credit to the players.

Did Hawick deserve to win –  yeah probably for 2 reasons –  they took their chances and their defence was solid throughout the match.

Another narrow defeat for the Titans did not do much for Clinton’s blood pressure and also not much for their league position which is still perilous. 3 games left and points have to be won. They certainly did not get the rub of the green in this match and on another day, this could easily have been a narrow victory.

Talking about rub of the green, it was certainly the weekend for the teams in green to win –  Hawick, Ireland , Celtic , Hibs.

No doubt Lochee Harp would have made it 5 out of 5, but their match v Blairgowrie was cancelled.

No matches for the Dundee 1st XV or the Titans next weekend, with all eyes on the final Saturday in the 6 Nations.

Come along to the Mayfield clubhouse for Super Saturday and for those Club stalwarts going to Italy , enjoy and , as you will no doubt know , the important phrase in Italian is “un’altra birra per favore”.

Saluti.

 

Occasionals go down fighting

It was a glorious night in fife and under floodlights and the quality of the two teams on the magical surface in Glenrothes, you could be forgiven for feeling a tad romantic….

Jimmy the Pig (JTP), had assembled a squad with some youth and an abundance of experience.

Dundee started well with some barnstorming runs from Doigy setting the tone for a real blood and snotters encounter.

Dundee Scored two tries through Gargamel and the evergreen “Hello Douglas” Gray, to go into halftime in the lead.

JTP ring the changes at halftime and Glens got back into the game with some swashbuckling scores.

Not to be denied the occasionals hit back with a solo effort from captain for the day, “the mothership” Ross Lemon. As well as a lung busting run by the Gruffalo ending under the horns. Glenrothes were good for their victory though and secured a famous victory late in the game.

was also great to see smuglus McLaren see out the last 15 mins

The game was played mostly in the right spirit…

Special mention to Hughan who wrote himself off after 40mins

Well done to JTP and the mothership for organising the night

Match Report Stewarts-Melville FP v Dundee HSFP, Inverleith, 17th February 2018

Match Report
Stewarts-Melville FP v Dundee HSFP, Inverleith, 17th February 2018

You 

 

After last week’s win at Falkirk, Dundee were keen to continue to their rise up the league against a Stewarts-Melville side struggling to get above second bottom in the BT National One League table.
However, the coaching team’s task was hindered by a horrendous injury list, with no fewer than 19 1st XV players injured/unavailable for selection. Indeed, it was noted that Colin Sangster had selected 58 players to represent the 1st XV already this season – a quite staggering number.
The bus journey through followed the traditional and predictable pattern – bright sunshine in Dundee, rain in Kinross and bright sunshine again in Edinburgh. A quick look at Wikipedia shows that the city in the world with the most annual rainfall is Quibdo in Colombia , but surely Kinross is up there………
Dundee supporters made up the majority of attendees at the Stew Mel lunch at Inverleith. The large crowd that had travelled through were augmented by exiled Dundonians who had emigrated to the capital, including Frank and Pete Hadden, Eric Young and the ex Dundee High School bursar, Charles Sharp.
It was recognised that StewMel can also point to Rugby Royalty in their ranks, with the legends that are Fin Calder and Jim Calder as always being spotted at Inverleith this Saturday afternoon. The chat amongst Stew Mel committee was this was a match that they had to take something from to start to climb out of the relegation zone.
Coach Sangster did not have many options in his starting XV, which had Fraser McKay at 9 and a potentially electric centre combination in Neil and Ice. In the forwards, there was a welcome return for Broonie after his suspension and an interesting selection in the back row with Ally Mackie on the flank with Lewis McNamara at 8.
It was a bright sunny afternoon at the famous old Inverleith ground with the iconic stand reasonably well populated as Stew Mel kicked off towards the Ferry Road.
Play was concentrated in midfield for the opening period, but it was Dundee who drew first blood after 12 minutes . The ball was spread wide and space opened up for Ally Mackie to get momentum up going down the wing, bounce the covering StewMel tackle and score near the corner. Harvey missed the conversion. 5-0 Dundee
This settled Dundee down and for the next 10 minutes they dominated proceedings. Their lead was almost extended when Lewis and Ally for Ally to throw a pass which Ronan took like a train going down the wing. He seemed a certainty to score, but desperate StewMel defence kept him out.
Dundee continued to press near the Stew Mel line and were close to scoring on several occasions, with the final pass not going to hand. Somehow StewMel survived 5 minutes of unrelenting pressure and eventually a strong boot from their 10 cleared the danger. StewMel then advanced into the Dundee 22 and after a period of pressure , they drew level when Porteous went over near the posts. The conversion was successful . 7-5 StewMel
Dundee then got back on the offensive and camped in the Stew Mel 22 , but a combination of good defence and unforced errors stopped them from scoring. Bad luck then entered the mix when Dundee did cross the line but the referee called them back for a forward pass. Just when it seemed that Stew Mel would hold onto half time – which would have been a travesty given Dundee’s possession and territory, Dundee were awarded a penalty in front of the posts which Harvey nailed.
Half Time – Stew Mel 7 Dundee 8
The half time chat amongst the Dundee support was that this was too close for comfort, but surely Dundee’s domination would tell in the second half.
This was almost the case early in the second half when a storming break by Ally almost created a try for Lewis McNamara but the final pass did not go to hand.
Dundee then missed a couple of penalties and this let off, allied to the fact that Dundee had not capitalised on their territorial domination , seemed to encourage the home crowd to think that this could be their day and cries of “Come on Stew Mel” rang round the Inverleith ground.
Dundee then made a change with Henry coming on a 9, Fraser going to 15 and Kieran going off.
Eventually Dundee’s pressure told when Harvey made a good break from midfield and created space for Ronan to score a deserved try under the posts. Fraser converted to put Dundee 15-7 ahead.
It was expected that Dundee would then press ahead and make the game safe , but it was StewMel who scored next. Lock Fraser Morrison found acres of space to gallop in for a try .
The conversion was missed but it was game on at 15-12 to Dundee.
It was agreed on the terracing that the next score was crucial and thankfully it was Dundee who scored it. A break by Lewis McNamara (who had a super match) took him to the StewMel 22 where he was supported by Ice who cruised in for a try. Fraser’s conversion was unsuccessful. 20-12 Dundee
As the match entered its final stages, Dundee seemingly made the game safe and secure the bonus point when Ally barged over for another try. Conversion again missed
25-12 Dundee and game safe ?
Well , maybe not , as StewMel scored again in the last minute when winger Ferguson crossed for a try which was converted by Bowen. This made the score 25-19 with a final play left but Dundee held on to secure the victory.
Full Time – Stewarts Melville FP 19 Dundee HSFP 25
Reflections
A bonus point victory with an understrength team at a ground where Dundee have not had a good record in recent years points to “Job Done” for Colin Sangster and his team.
Sure , the margin could have been more with a number of try opportunities scorned and several kicks missed but having lost a number of games by a small margin this year , a close victory will do nicely thank you very much…………….
Indeed this victory puts Dundee up to 4th place , which is impressive given the injury problems with the team has had to contend with this season.
Conversely , there was pessimism amongst the Stew Mel committee after the match as the feeling was that StewMel now face a real uphill challenge to avoid relegation from BT National One.
Naturally your reporter has to adhere to journalistic principles and remain neutral but StewMel would be a sad loss to the league . It is always a pleasure to visit Inverleith which as we all know was the venue for Scotland’s home matches between 1899 and 1925.
As it stands , Kirkcaldy are top of BT National League 2 , with other promotion contenders Lasswade , Hamilton , Dumfries and Biggar.
I am sure readers will have their own views as to which teams they would prefer to face in BT National One next season.
No match for Dundee next Saturday , with the small matter of Scotland v England in the Calcutta Cup taking centre stage.

Match Report Falkirk v Dundee HSFP, 10th February 2018

Although there was another changed line-up, with starting debutants, any hopes harboured by Dundee that the game might be a less testing affair, given Falkirk’s win-less season so far, were swiftly extinguished as the hosts more than matched Dundee for the first half hour, which saw them edge into the lead.

Given the amount of surface water on the fields around Falkirk, it was no surprise to find a pitch soft underfoot, but the turf remained firm enough. Falkirk kicked off and were soon pressing in the Dundee half. Had their handling been more secure, they might well have taken the lead, but in the

event, it was Dundee who opened the scoring. Calls could be heard from Dundee players urging their team mates to “switch on” and as they started to improve, good ground was made by Geo, before the ball was passed to Fraser. A dummy took him past the Falkirk defence and the move was finished off by Ice, who scooted round behind the posts, leaving Harvey a straightforward conversion. 0-7 after 15 minutes.

There was little action of note for the next ten minutes, with the side evenly sparring. Then Falkirk induced a penalty at a scrum and kicked to touch. From the line out, the ball was driven over the Dundee line, with captain, Stewart McCulloch, claiming the touch down: scrum-half Fionn Call added the extra two points and the scores were level. 7-7 with 25 minutes played.

Falkirk were ahead five minutes latter, when a penalty against Dundee in front of the posts gave Call the chance, which he accepted and the lead was Falkirk’s, 10-7.

Dundee were on the offensive after the kick-off, but losing the ball and a penalty offence prevented any serious pressure on the Falkirk line. Then, after 35 minutes, Andy Dymock was introduced from the bench and the whole Dundee momentum seemed to shift, as they upped the tempo, pressing in the Falkirk 22 until the line was crossed by Ali Mackie, for a try converted by Harvey and Dundee were back ahead, 10-14.

With increased pace, Dundee were back on the attack after the kick-off and a run down the right by Ali Mackie ended with the ball being taken on by Duncan Leese for a try, which was unconverted. 10 – 19, with a minute of the half remaining.

Half-time: Falkirk 10 Dundee 19

A flat first 30 minutes, with both sides swapping mistakes, came to life for Dundee in the final minutes. “Let that set the tone for the second half” was the message in the half-time huddle.

Dundee did indeed begin brightly after the resumption, but lost possession, allowing Falkirk to gain ground. When Dundee were penalised in front of the posts, Call kicked the goal to reduce the leeway and keep Falkirk in touch with 7 minutes of the half gone: 13 -19.

Dundee’s lead was extended almost immediately however, after they won possession after the kick-off. A great burst by Niall Hall took play to near the Falkirk posts and when the ball was shipped right, Kieran Scoular was on hand to take the final pass and score an unconverted try. 9 minutes on the clock and 13 – 24.

Dundee were now moving the ball well and, but for some insecure handling, might have increased their lead before a penalty against Falkirk allowed Dundee to move the ball right, with Neil Herron making ground before passing to Ali Mackie for his second try, converted by Fraser, to stretch the lead. 13 -31 after 56 minutes.

Falkirk enjoyed a spell of pressure and, after spurning a couple of overlap opportunities, they were back on the score sheet after their stand-off, Connor Faulds, darted through for an unconverted try, making the score 18 – 36 with 64 minutes played.

Although their play had improved from the first 30 minutes, some errors were creeping into the Dundee play and good attacking opportunities were being lost with some inaccurate passing and handling and no-side was nearing before Dundee troubled the scoreboard operator again. When Falkirk were penalised in their 22 Ice took the kick quickly and shot through for a try converted by Fraser. 18 – 38, with 2 minutes remaining.

Then, right at the death Dundee added a final try. Back on the attack from the kick off, they spread the ball left, then right, using the width of the pitch before the play was ended with a try by Gavin Hughan and the missed conversion brought the final whistle.

Full-time: Falkirk 18 Dundee 43

A comfortable enough win for Dundee in the end, even if it was Falkirk’s narrowest defeat of the season. There was some comfort to be taken in the team’s performance after the first 30 minutes, with evidence that the pace, width and off-loading, which had been missing in recent weeks, could still be generated.

Dundee scorers:

Tries: I Matacagi (2), A Mackie (2), D Leese, K Scoular, G Hughan
Conversions: H Young (2), F McKay (2)
Dundee Man of the Match: Charles Clark

Match Report Dundee HSFP v Gala Mayfield , 3rd February 2018

Dundee HSFP v Gala

3 February 2018

Dull, dour and dreich. Not just a description of the weather, but also of the game at Mayfield as two under-strength teams struggled in the entertainment stakes. Due to the early (12.15) kick-off, the teams changed at Dalnacraig, as the Mayfield changing rooms were being used for school matches and perhaps the combination of early start and different location disorientated a Dundee side which, even with the changes of personnel, played below its potential. This was nowhere more evident than in the set scrum, where Dundee were under severe pressure for the whole of the game.

A Harvey Young penalty attempt which hit the outside of the post was the nearest either side came to scoring in the first ten minutes. Indeed, it was the nearest either side came to scoring for over thirty minutes, with close-quarter contact rugby being the order of the day. Taking advantage of their scrum superiority, and their ability to shunt the home scrum back, Gala chose the scrum option when awarded a couple of penalties near the Dundee 22, but failed to convert the pressure into points. It was a little surprising, however, when a third similar opportunity was presented
and this time the kick at goal was the selection. Stand-off Keddie obliged, and the electronic scoreboard was brought into life. 0 – 3 after 33 minutes.

The lacklustre fare continued until half-time, with no further scoring.

Half-time: Dundee 0 Gala 3

A half to forget, which, fortunately, I have.

During the break, Dundee were exhorted to increase the energy and improve their accuracy, but in the event, it was Gala which began the brighter. Then, with the half some five minutes old, after Gala lost a line-out, Dundee moved the ball at pace and at last Ice found some clear space on the right and darted over to score. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but the try sparked some hope in the Dundee support. Dundee 5 Gala 3

The optimism was not long-lived, however, as a penalty against Dundee five minutes later, allowed Gala to kick for touch and the resulting line-out was driven over for a Stewart try, converted by Keddie.

Dundee 5 Gala 10.

The penalty count was taking an all-too-familiar shape, and yet another against Dundee, some four minutes later, allowed Keddie to increase Gala’s lead: 5 – 13.

Then, with just over an hour played, a bright spot to raise the home support’ s morale. Starting with a fine break by Harvey Young, the ball was moved into the Gala red zone, with George’s help, before Harvey determinedly pressed on against the final Gala defence, to score. The conversion was missed, but Dundee were back within touching distance, at 10 – 13.

Another Keddie penalty put Gala 6 points ahead, but there was still hope for Dundee as they had perhaps their best spell of the game, exerting pressure on the Gala line. Penalties were their undoing again, however, but, with full-time approaching, there appeared a great chance to snatch a win when a superb break by Fraser McKay saw him burst clear, on his way to the Gala line and under the posts. Unfortunately the defence was just quick enough to grab him and the chance, and the game, was gone.

Full-time: Dundee 10 Gala 16

A dismal early afternoon performance which left the Dundee faithful frustrated, with the team failing to reach its potential, in a drab game punctuated with handling errors and penalties.

At least there was the prospect of watching Scotland kick-start their 6-Nations season with a good win in Cardiff. Oh dear.

Dundee scorers:

Tries: Matacagi, Young

Dundee Man of the Match: Angus Farquar

Match Report Dundee HSFP v GHA  Mayfield , 27th January 2018

Match Report

Dundee HSFP v GHA  Mayfield , 27th January 2018

After disappointing back to back defeats against Kelso and Edinburgh Accies, Dundee went into this match sitting in 6th place in BT National League One.

The chat in the Mayfield clubhouse was that this home match against GHA –  sitting one place above Dundee but only 2 points ahead -was a must win match.

The 77 lunch clubbers were in good spirits –  thanks to match sponsor Harry Fairbairn BMW and lunch club sponsor J&E Shepherd. As in previous weeks Mayfield was again anointed by rugby royalty , this time in the form of ex player and current Scotland international Alasdair Dickinson . Alasdair , although currently injured , has amassed 58 Scotland caps and is indeed the highest capped ex Dundee player.

 

As always, Head Coach Colin Sangster addressed the Lunch Club and informed the assembles masses that the Club had received good news and bad news this week. Good news in that young prop Murphy Walker had been called up to the Scotland U-20 squad for the U-20 6 Nations. This was a fantastic achievement for a young lad in his first few months in senior rugby. The bad news was that Murphy would not be available for Dundee until after the 6 Nations ie after 17 March. This prompted one lunch clubber to ask of Alasdair Dickinson, “Dicko –  have you got your boots – we need a prop?” After debate, it was agreed that the national interest must come first and Dicko declined the invitation.

Although Murphy was out, there was some good news on the prop front with both Broonie and James Forrester returning to action. Kevin Franco continued at hooker, George and Neil were in the row, whilst in the back row Ally Mackie was a welcome return, with youngsters  Lewis McNamara and Ross Milne as flankers. In the backs, Josh and Ice returned at 9 and 14 respectively, although Neil Herron was still out injured.

The Titans were also playing  GHA and it was noted that in the GHA 2nd XV was Ranji Jerevich , one of Scottish rugby’s real good guys , who also holds the post of Rugby Convener at GHA.

It was with some relief that it was confirmed that the Titans had not seen fit to reciprocate in their team selection and that our own Rugby Convener Ken Andrew had not made the Titans starting XV. However, the Titans did have their particularly experienced player in Davie Mason who made up a centre partnership with 18 year old Sean Gauld.  Davie is a tad over 18…. However , this illustrates one of the endearing aspects of amateur rugby , when a young blade with huge potential is partnered alongside a player who was been there , seen it , done it , been round the block a few times and is there to guide and advice the youngster. It is fair to say that given the nature of his mentor, Sean will not be short of words of advice…..

The 1st XV kicked off with GHA attacking the Dalgleish Road end with a strong wind in their favour.A

The initial period of the match was even, with wind advantage meaning that GHA had the majority of the possession. It was noticeable early on that their half back combination (Andrew Goudie at 10 and Andrew Gillman at 9) were lively and this theme was to continue throughout the match.

Indeed after a period of pressure, GHA drew first blood with a close range penalty by Goudie , after the Dundee backs had strayed offside.     3-0 GHA.

The Dundee team slowly creaked into gear and their big men –  Ally, Broonie and Neil – became influential , gaining valuable yards each time they were in possession. This was eventually rewarded when following a scrum in the GHA 22, Ally Mackie picked up and displayed sheer power and determination to batter past 2 lines of defenders and make the line for a try. Harvey’s conversion was impressively accurate, considering it was against the wind.                                                                                         7-3 Dundee.

The Mayfield faithful anticipated that Dundee would now step up a gear, but following a period of play in the midfield, it was GHA who scored next. Fly half Goudie’s kick ahead found space where you would have expected Dundee to have defenders. But they didn’t and this enabled GHA winger Spowart to be unchallenged as they touched down. The conversion was missed .                                                      8-7 GHA.

Amongst the crowds on the touchline watching both the 1st XV, were 3 generations of the famous Paladini family –  Sandro , Jack and dog. This peace of this pleasant Saturday afternoon family outing was shattered when dog suddenly broke his lead and bolted onto the 1st XV pitch where the respective scrums were about to pack down. Talented back Jack –  currently unavailable for selection due to a wrist injury –  displayed a turn of speed hitherto unseen during his appearances for the Dundee 1st XV, by chasing after and retrieving dog before he reached the scrum.

The pattern of the game was now emerging whereby where GHA struggled to cope when Dundee’s big men got going. Neil in particular had some battering runs with Ally and Broonie also to the fore. The chat amongst the Dundee supporters was that the Dundee team had hugely missed their physical presence over the last 2 matches in which Dundee had been defeated.

Indeed, it was the big men that combined to put Dundee back in front after 30 minutes, with Ally again going over after strong forward play following a quickly taken penalty by Harvey. The conversion was missed.                                   12-8 Dundee

The last 10 minutes of the first half saw GHA have the majority of possession and indeed in the last 5 minutes, they were camped in the Dundee 22. However, strong defence with hooker Franco and young flanker Milne to the fore, underpinned by an admirable determination not to concede any points, enabled Dundee to weather the storm and reach half time ahead.

Half Time –  Dundee HSFP 12 GHA 8.

The feeling amongst the Dundee support was that this was a reasonable performance against the wind and it was hoped that Dundee would take advantage of the wind in the second half.

Sometimes what you hope for does come true and this was the case as straight from the restart Dundee scored. George made a break from half way from which he was supported by Neil. Half backs Josh and Harvey carried on and the ball was set up for Ally to crash over from close range and complete a hat trick of tries. Harvey converted.  19-8 Dundee

It was hoped that Dundee would kick on from this and get a couple of scores to give the team and the supporters some breathing space. However, although ground was made through some powerful breaks ,the GHA defence was good and on a couple of occasions when an extra man situation had arisen , the final pass agonisingly did not go to hand.

As mentioned earlier on the GHA halfbacks continued to be lively after 55 minutes GHA got back in the game. A long pass found their winger in space and he scored in the corner. The conversion was missed, but there was now only a converted try between the team.

19-13 Dundee.

GHA were well and truly back in the game at this point, aided by the award of a series of penalties. However when Dundee secured possession, they went back to the tactic that had served them best ie get the big guys on the ball and after a battering run by Neil, the ball was recycled quickly. Harvey displayed his good rugby brain by drawing the defence and throwing a long pass to hooker Franco in space. Kevin got his reward for an all-round excellent display by scoring in the corner. Harvey missed the kick.       24-13 Dundee.

This had been an entertaining match between two competitive sides with no hint of anything untoward, so it was a surprise when a flareup took place in the Dundee 22. As normally happens, after a “rammy” for a few seconds involving a number of players, things settled down very quickly

I fully accept that a “rammy” is a word not included in the SRU Techical Jargon dictionary- understandably so as it is a term most normally associated with junior football –  but to the uninitiated,  it may be translated as a scuffle or a commotion . Certainly nothing to get too concerned about.

The feeling on the touchline that it was “handbags” that would be sorted out by the referee telling the captains to tell their players to cool down and get back to playing the match in the manner in which it had been played up to this flare up.

However, a lengthy discussion between the referee and the assistant referee suggested that maybe more would be made of this.

And indeed there was.

The referee called both captains together, gave them an address in which the words “punch” was allegedly heard and produced a red card for Broonie.

This seemed harsh.

The crowd then waited for a similar red card for a GHA player or at least a yellow on the basis that both teams had players involved in the flare up, so both teams were at fault . Indeed a rammy by its very nature requires at least two participants.

It was therefore anticipated that this apportionment of blame would be recognised in the official’s response to the situation.

However, no other cards were produced. So it was only Dundee that were at fault in the rammy?

This seemed hardly equitable.

This decision meant that Dundee were down to 14 men for the remainder of the match –  and uncontested scrums – and naturally this gave GHA heart. Sensing a chance, they upped their game, secured possession and play was concentrated in the Dundee 22. The Dundee defence held firm for a while, until replacement Usuda scored near the posts, converted by Goudie. This brought GHA within 4 points of Dundee with around 3 minutes remaining.

24-20 Dundee

At this stage the collective blood pressure of the Dundee support was rising and they were again reaching for their pills when Harvey put the kick off straight out, meaning an uncontested scrum on the half way line.

GHA secured the ball and moved the ball across the pitch amongst their dangerous backs. A break was made, the ball was moving right and the Mayfield crowd could see to their collective horror that GHA had lined up a 4 man overlap…..

A long pass was thrown to get this overlap into space, when Superman , in the form of Ally Mackie , intercepted the pass on the half way line and  , with no one in front of him  , headed for the GHA try line.

What followed was one of these rare pieces of sporting drama that you maybe see once or twice a season : Dundee hanging onto a 4 point lead in the last minute of the match ,Ally charging for the GHA line like a runaway rhinoceros , the Mayfield crowd roaring him on and willing him to make the line , the GHA centres and wingers desperately trying to get back to tackle Ally and then the huge roar when he made it to the line for the clinching try.

Not just the clinching try but his 4th try of the match in a quite remarkable performance.

Harvey missed the conversion but nobody really cared as this score had made Dundee safe at 29-20.

In terms of sheer drama , the whistle for no side should have gone then , as nothing could follow the excitement of Ally’s score  , but there were still a few seconds to play.

GHA kicked off , Dundee secured possession , went up the pitch , GHA conceded a penalty which Harvey nailed to round off proceedings.

Final Score –  Dundee HSFP 32 GHA 20.

Reflections

First and foremost , this was an important win after two defeats.

The securing of the bonus point was encouraging , as were aspect of the team’s play , while the main memory of the match will be Ally charging for the line for his 4th try , willed on by every Dundee supporter.

The coaches had their easiest decision of the season to make after the match when the man of the match was named as  , who else , but Ally Mackie.

 

Match Report Edinburgh Accies v Dundee

Match Report

Edinburgh Accies v Dundee HSFP , Raeburn Place , Edinburgh , 20th January 2018

There is an oft-used phase ”a week is a long time in politics” (coined by then UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the mid 1960s).

Well if that is the case, a week in amateur rugby in Scotland is an eternity.

On Thursday 11 January, the Dundee High Rugby coaching team were wallowing in the satisfaction of being able to select the 1st XV and the Titans team from virtually a full complement of players , with several long term injured players returning to the fray.  Roll the clock forward one week and the scene at Mayfield on Thursday 18 January resembled that of the BBC programme “Casualty.”  Injured in the matches the previous week and not available for selection were Broonie , James Forrester , Ceillem Stewart , Andy Redmayne , Ally Mackie , Neil Herron , Andy Hamilton. In addition , Ice and Josh were unavailable ,so it was a hugely changed 1st XV.

As if facing the league leaders Edinburgh Accies on their own patch was not challenging enough, it was the front row selection that was giving Head Coach Sangster sleepless nights –  unavailable or injured were Broonie , James Forrester , Ceillem Stewart , Keg , Angus Fraser and Chris Cartnell.

It has been well reported that Scotland have selection problems at front row as the 6 Nations approaches –  well Gregor Townsend should spare a thought for Colin Sangster too.

The other concern in the Clubhouse on Thursday night was the weather. Arctic conditions had battered Scotland earlier in the week and with the forecast not great for Edinburgh for Friday and Saturday, there was severe doubt as to whether the game would be on.

However, come Saturday morning, the word from the Accies committee was that they were confident that that they could get the game to go ahead.

The Dundee bus therefore departed on Saturday morning, with a much changed team on board. Keiran was back at 15, Ronan and Danny on the wings with Leesey and Fraser McKay in the centre. Harvey and Henry were the half backs . Lewis and Murphy were props –  not a difficult choice as they were the only props available –  with Kevin Franco bravely stepping up to take on the role of hooker for oh , the 3rd time in his career. The back 5 were on reasonably familiar grounds being George , Neil , Danny , Gav Hughan with Lewis McNamara at 8.

Edinburgh Accies had a full lunch club , with many well kent pusses in attendance.

There has always been a good relationship between Dundee and Edinburgh Accies . underpinned by several players representing both sides, including such legends as Eric Young and Torchy Lindsay.

Both these gentlemen were to the fore as the Accies Clubhouse Bar was packed to the gunnels at 11.30am . Indeed Eric Young and Co –  along with Lindsays –  were the main sponsors of the match with the lunch attendees including several past and present Dundonians and in particular ex Scotland coach and Crown Legend Frank Hadden.

It should be pointed however that the common trend amongst the masses in the Accies clubhouse was experience and not youth. Indeed an independent observer could justifiably have concluded that this was a Saga Holiday convention, but it was a happy bunch, if an elderly one, that got stuck into the pre-match libations.

The chat in the clubhouse was, at this stage, the match was still on.

The Dundee team arrived and as they walked to the changing rooms it was noted that the touchline flags were up on the main pitch, signifying that it was intended to play the match on this pitch. This was a tad surprising given that there were patches of ice on the pitch on which Torvill and Dean could have had a training session.  Indeed, one member of the Dundee party , who shall remain nameless was heard to say “It is rugby we are playing , not curling”……………………..

After deliberations between the referees, the captains and the coaching staffs, it was agreed that the Raeburn Place pitch was not playable and that the match would be moved to an alternative pitch.

This alterative pitch was at New Field, the playing fields of The Edinburgh Academy.

This presented a challenge as New Field is across Inverleith Park. A very pleasant walk in a lovely part of Edinburgh, but it has to be said more preferable walk in June than in January.

However, New Field it was and the news was relayed to the lunching guests , by this time getting wellied into the Chilean Merlot and the port.

Credit to the Edinburgh Accies committee –  they provided the crampons and the ice axes necessary to make the trip across Inverleith Park –  and the exodus from Raeburn Place started. Edinburgh worthies claimed that the trip would take 10 minutes. Well, maybe for Mo Farah but certainly not for the average elderly luncher.

Your reporter was part of this Great Trek and I can vouch it was longer than 10 minutes.

As a result , it was 7 minutes past 2 when I arrived at New Field.

I then asked the first spectator I encountered what the score was.

This refined and well-dressed Edinburgh lady (nae hoodies or tracky bottoms at the Playing Fields of The Edinburgh Academy) very kindly replied “Seven nil to The Academy”.

I assume that this was a faux pas (google it to find out what it means) and she actually meant Edinburgh Accies , but her comment did divulge the close relationship between Edinburgh Academy and the Edinburgh Academical Football Club to give Accies their correct title.

Further discussion with an Accies committee man revealed that the opening try had been scored by captain Jamie Sole (son of ex Scotland captain David Sole), converted by Kiwi Luther Hirini.

Accies were on top, having the bulk of the possession, with the Dundee defence already stretched and following a period of pressure in the Dundee 22, Accies went further head.

Number 8 Lawrie Seydak broke off a scrum near the line, burst through 2 lines of tackles to crash over near the posts. Richard Mill converted. 14-0 to Accies.

Unfortunately a couple of minutes later Accies scored again. A good passing move created the space for hooker Black to score under the posts. Mill again converted .21-0 to Accies.

At this stage, Dundee were finding it hard to match the pace and power of the Accies team who were displaying the form of worthy league leaders and it was no surprise when Accies scored their 4th try, this time through Snape . This was again converted . 28-0 to Accies.

Accies were dominant at this stage and proceedings were threatening to get very horrible as Accies scored again after 30 minutes . In an admission of shoddy journalism, I have no idea who scored it as I was talking to a bunch of Dundee supporters. I can confirm that it was converted. 35-0 to Accies.

Captain Leese gathered his troops together under the posts and encouraged them/extolled them to “ show some pride , get the tackles in , secure the ball and keep the ball” in an attempt to curb the one-way traffic of the half to date.

This seemed to work as although the first 30 minutes had been an unmitigated disaster for Dundee , they upped their game in the last 10 minutes. They secured the ball , made some telling forward advances and got a reward when young number 8 Lewis McNamara crashed over for a try. Harvey’s conversion attempt missed. By quite a bit. In fact by a lot.

Half Time Edinburgh Accies 35 Dundee 5.

The New Field is a lovely part of Edinburgh – overlooked by multi-million £ properties and with a view over Inverleith Park and onto the city. However it is unlikely that the idyllic surroundings were in the forefront of coach Sangster’s mind as he stomped onto the pitch to address his underperforming troops.

However, whatever Colin said at half time , it had the desired effect.

 

Right from the start of the second half, Dundee performed better .  The tackling was more clinical and the ball retention a lot better. Passes were still being spilled, but territory was even for much of the second half. Granted , at 35-0 up and with the bonus point secured , the Accies team understandably took their foot off the gas, but Dundee’s performance was upped hugely across the team.

There was only one score in the second half. It went to Accies who scored a break away try after a period of concerted Dundee pressure. The conversion was missed

Full Time Edinburgh Accies 40 Dundee HSFP 5

Reflections

A  much improved second half display cannot camouflage a disappointing and under-par first 40 minutes. This point was admitted by Colin Sangster after the match,

There were undoubtedly mitigating circumstances –  the uncertainty of knowing whether the match was going ahead and the move to another pitch certainly disrupted the team’s preparations. In addition , it was a young and understrength team , there was no front row cover (huge credit to Lewis , Murphy and Kevin for the shift they put in) and it was revealed that early in match both half backs suffered injuries  – Harvey (leg) and Henry(hand) , neither of which were helpful to an already difficult cause.

Edinburgh Accies are a good side . They now have 14 victories out of 14 league matches, have failed to secure a bonus point in only one of these matches and look a shoe-in to go up as champions.

Best of luck to them and also thanks to their committee for the hospitality yesterday.

Anyway for Dundee, onwards and hopefully upwards , as we look forward to GHA’s visit to Mayfield next Saturday. Our best performance this season was arguably the match against GHA in Glasgow and a repeat of that in front of the home supporters next week would do very nicely thank you.

Dundee HSFP v Kelso, Mayfield, 13th January 2018

Match Report

Dundee HSFP v Kelso, Mayfield, 13th January 2018

 

2018 had begun successfully for Dundee High rugby, with a close but deserved win being secured at Selkirk. This victory with an under-strength team, combining with Kelso defeating Aberdeen Grammar, had allowed Dundee to move up to 5th place in BT National One. Their opponents, Kelso, were in 8th place, but in confident mood following the aforementioned close victory over Aberdeen Grammar the previous week.

It was a raw Saturday afternoon but then again, the 13th of January in Scotland is hardly likely to generate tropical sunshine.

The clubhouse was soon buzzing following the arrival of the 84 Lunch Club guests. A particular feature was the table of ex players celebrating the 5 year anniversary of Dundee playing in the B&I Cup against Cornish Pirates, Swansea and Carmarthen.  They got the spirit of the occasion going by commandeering some crates of Cornish Rattler cider and this kicked off the Lunch in predictable fashion. Guys –  great to see you all again.

Rugby royalty was represented at the Lunch in the form of Past SRU President and Crown Legend Ian Rankin (coach of aforementioned B&I team) who teamed up with his erstwhile little darlings to roll back the years.

It was good to see a healthy Kelso support in the clubhouse and President Tosh , as always , welcomed the guests in his inimitable and hugely entertaining way.

It was fair to say that there was no sign of any Dry January at Mayfield on Saturday lunchtime.

As always, well done to the Lunch Club team of Gerry, Matt, Sandy, Derek and Robin who, as always, put on a show par excellence.

The Dundee team –  and the Titans team to face Boroughmuir on the bottom pitch –  were announced on the website on Friday morning and these had the Mayfield faithful purring in anticipation. Several players had returned from long term injury allowing 2 seriously strong squads to be named.

As always though, there was changes on the day. Ally Mackie was a late call off, with George moving to the back row alongside Danny and Gav Hughan.

Andy Redmayne came in at second row, with Lewis McNamara called up onto the bench.

In the backs, Leesey was a full back, Harvey was back at 10 with Neil and Andy Hamilton in the centre.

Broonie had just recovered from the chest injury suffered v Aberdeen Grammar in November so he was packing down for the Titans in certainly the strongest team that Jimmy Michie has had the luxury of picking this season.  Indeed each member of the Titans team (with the exception of young Paul Ritch whose time will come), had represented the 1st XV within the last 12 months.

Just to add to the feelgood factor, the fans’ favourite Ice – on temporary leave from his army tour defending the Realm in Cyprus –  was making his first appearance for the Dundee 1st XV at Mayfield since September.

However, as Dundee came on the pitch in tangerine, your reporter’s feel-good factor was replaced by a feeling of premonition as I am still undergoing trauma counselling after witnessing the football tangerines – Dundee United’s disgraceful and embarrassing 6-1 humping by Falkirk last week.

Surely a tangerine curse could not afflict the Dundee High rugby team ??

The match got underway, with Dundee attacking the Dalgleish Road end and Dundee went ahead after 5 minutes. Harvey capitalised on a mishandling in the Kelso backs to feed George who scampered in between the posts. Harvey added the conversion. 7-0 to Dundee.

At the same time that George was scoring for the 1sts, Ronan was outpacing his Boroughmuir opposite number to score for the Titans to give the Mayfield faithful 2 tries for the price of one.

It was noted that the Kelso pack were bulky and in the first couple of set scrums more than held their own against the Dundee pack.

A pattern for the match was emerging with the big Kelso pack looking a match for the Dundee scrum, but the Dundee backs looking the more dangerous when in possession. Harvey had a couple of promising breaks which came to nothing.

After 15 minutes, Kelso got on the scoreboard, thanks to the efforts of their pack. A penalty kick to the corner, a secured line out and a forward drive resulted in a touchdown in the corner. The conversion was missed.

7-5 Dundee.

At this stage, Dundee were struggling to find any rhythm , with handling errors bringing a halt to any momentum. Territory was fairly even , with defences on top.

Kelso then went ahead after 30 minutes when a grubber kick was played into the Dundee goal area. There seemed no particular danger but a slip by a Dundee defender left an easy score for Kelso winger Iain Sim.

The try was converted by full back Craig Dods.

12-7 Kelso.

The mutterings amongst the Dundee support were that things were not going to plan and indeed they were not.  The penalty count was mounting against Dundee –  no doubt to the huge frustration of the Dundee coaching staff –  and a further infringement gave Craig Dods another penalty chance which he took.

15-7 Kelso.

Towards the end of the first half, Dundee managed to exert some pressure and Harvey nailed a penalty just before half time.

Half Time –  Dundee 10 Kelso 15.

The half time chat amongst the Dundee punters was that Dundee’s performance must surely improve in the second half, but pleasure was taken in the fact that the Titans were beating Boroughmuir at half time.  

 

Let’s cut to the chase –  the second half was not good.

Dundee had most of the possession and most of the territory, but the first half problems of handling errors and giving away too many penalties continued.

Kelso’s defence, to be fair, was first class.

Their home grown pack, containing players of pure Borders stock such as Catalin Andrei Graur , Paudie Lawlor and Heino Gaiser , matched the Dundee pack and even when down to 14 men following a yellow card to the large gentleman called Paudie  , they held their own.

As time went on, the stop-start nature of the play continued, the weather became colder and the collective mood of the Mayfield faithful worsened as it became apparent that this was not going to be Dundee’s day.

Indeed the highlight of the second half was on the Titans pitch when Titans winger Jack Paladini broke clear of the Boroughmuir defence and headed for the line. The Bmuir fullback was covering across and looked a shoe-in favourite to tackle Jack, but young Paladini –  son of Broughty Ferry worthy Sandro – had a trick up his sleeve……..

Jack produced a hand off –  not a normal hand off –  but a hand off which connected with his opponent , to quote a good Dundee phrase –  “right in the puss” . The Bmuir full back was understandably taken aback by this unexpected assault, missed his tackle and Jack crossed the line for what turned out to be the winning try. Good on you, Jack.

Dundee had a chance to snatch victory at the end but another handling error enabled Kelso to clear their lines and hold on until no side.                                                                                                     

The referee’s whistle brought an end to an entirely forgettable second half in which –  remarkably  – there was no scoring, with the celebrations of the Kelso players and supporters showing what victory meant to them.

Final Score  –  Dundee HSFP 10  Kelso 15

Reflections

Given the prematch confidence –  win v Selkirk , players back from injury and a strong team out  , this was a disappointing result and performance.

Kelso deserved their win as they made less mistakes and, to their credit , they displayed first class spirit and excellent defence.

Was this the Tangerine curse ??

Nah –  simply a case of the Dundee team not playing to their potential and, to be fair, the players and the coaching staff readily admitted that it had been a below-par performance throughout the team.

Next week sees Dundee head for Edinburgh Accies . On the face of it a hard shift against the league leaders, but Dundee arguably should have won on their last trip to Raeburn Place and if the team can get their mojo back, then who knows?

After the match, the B&I reunion festivities continued in the clubhouse. With the Rattler cider well and truly flattened, Captain Keg  commandeered a karaoke machine and the party commenced.

Mention must be made of the Kelso crew who stayed on, fully entered into the clubhouse mayhem and then stayed in Dundee overnight .

Thanks for your company guys and , by the way , a wise choice –  this week Dundee was voted by Wall Street Journal alongside Shanghai and Madagascar as one of the Top Ten 2018 Hot Destinations  , so maybe we can look forward to more away team supporters enjoying full on Mayfield hospitality , then a night in the City of Cool.