Match Report – Aberdeen Grammar 50-25 Dundee High Rugby – 6 April 2019

Somebody, it seems, has forgotten to tell the city of Aberdeen about global warming. The east wind, straight from the Siberian Steppes, the Baltic and then the North Sea, and most of the other cold places in the world as well, blew relentlessly straight across Rubislaw for 80 minutes as the soft Dundee supporters, swaddled like Michelin men, watched the proceedings through their frost covered faces (that last bit may be an exaggeration, but only just!) Frozen fingers googled wind chill factors and announced our life expectancy was probably less than an hour…

Meanwhile, out on the park, the players simply got on with it, in an entertaining final match of the season. Dundee kicked off, missing 4 key players from last week’s relegation saving performance against Kirkcaldy. Standouts Harry Meadows, Danny Levison and Lewis MacNamara were all absent from the pack, and Duncan McIntyre was a late call off from the backs, leaving Dundee with only 4 on the bench as Ruaridh Hood started on the wing, with Kieran Scoular moving in to centre. Darren Donaldson, in at tight head prop, and Liam Quarm, at 2nd row, were both making their first starts for Dundee this season.

Dundee were playing into the icy blast, and started well. Young stand off Harry Mercer drove ex Dundee stalwart Greig Ryan into touch straight from the kick off to set the tone for what was a combative first half.  And after 8 minutes gone, it got better for Dundee as lock Angus Thomson went over for the opening try, converted by Fraser McKay, after turning down a penalty opportunity yards out from the Aberdeen posts – a good decision! Two minutes later, it seemed Aberdeen were surely in for a try at the other end till winger Nat Coe suffered a “Stockdale” moment and dropped the ball with the line at his mercy. Maybe his hands were so cold he didn’t even know he had caught it in the first place…

However, in a worrying follow up, Aberdeen were all over the resulting Dundee scrum, and hooker Ben Inglis went over from close range for the equalising score. 7 all after 12 minutes.  5 minutes later, another Aberdeen try, after what seemed suspiciously like a forward pass in the build up, made it 12 – 7 to the home side. Yet Dundee responded well, and after a series of penalties in the Aberdeen half, chose to pop over a close range penalty with 25 minutes gone. 12 – 10.

However, the wind, and Aberdeen’s bigger pack (and bigger backs to boot, including Scottish rugby league international Murray Mitchell at 13) were putting them on the front foot, and a break by stand off Knudson soon let centre Aplin in under the posts. 19 – 10 to the home side, with half an hour gone. Could Dundee hold out for the last 10 minutes into the wind? Could their hypothermic supporters do likewise?

Luckily for Dundee, Aberdeen had been failing to harness the wind for nearly the whole of the first half, a series of kicks slicing off their boots “as if off threepenny bits”. Unfortunately, with half time looming, they finally got one right, and ex Dundee second row Robin Cessford took advantage of the 70 metres gained from that kick to plough over, making it 26 – 10 to the home side. A quick penalty in reply for Dundee made it 26 – 13 at the break, but injuries meant that by the break 2nd row Angus Thomson had been replaced by Sean Gauld, and winger Kieran D’Aeth by Josh Rutnagur, who took over the No. 9 role, with scrum half Lathangie moving to centre, and Scoular to the wing.

Manna from heaven could not have tasted better than the life saving hot pies consumed by the Dundee faithful at half time, but the thinking was that that last Aberdeen try had maybe just pushed the game out of reach.

A quick Aberdeen try after half time reinforced that view. As we tried to get back into the game, another injury blow meant centre Hamilton had to depart after a knock. Sean Gauld moved from the pack to centre, pairing up there with scrum half Lathangie, in what could only be called a rough and ready midfield combination! Taylor Smith came on at 2, with hooker Craig Mackenzie moving to the back row. The disrupted  Dundee team did well to keep competing against a good Aberdeen side, despite these enforced changes, with our starting back rowers of Barlow, Franco and Farquhar all still working tirelessly at the breakdown to help keep us in the game. The team got due reward as prop Jack Newth went over for his first Dundee try after a break by skipper Fraser McKay, whose successful conversion brought it back to 31- 20 after 55 minutes.

However, Aberdeen were too good not to take advantage of Dundee’s makeshift midfield defence, and centre Murray Mitchell eventually sliced through a few minutes later to make it 38 -20 and put the game beyond reach. Ruaridh Hood now went off injured, to be replaced by Danny McGinn, and though Dundee kept their heads up, their depleted side leaked two more tries as Aberdeen started to overpower them in open play and in the set in the final quarter. However, right on full time, Dundee had the last word, with another front rower, this time No. 2 Craig Mackenzie, touching down for the final try after good build up play by Josh Rutnagur and Stewart Lathangie. So it finished 50 – 25 to the home side, who retained the Dallas Allardice trophy, against a battling Dundee outfit who refused to lie down.

Reflections: An entertaining game, albeit perhaps one too far for a rather battle weary Dundee side who had put in a big effort to win their 3 previous games and stave off relegation! Four Dundee players departing injured in the one game shows the ridiculous attrition rate in modern rugby. 54 players have turned out for Dundee’s 1st XV this season, a statistic that will be familiar to quite a few other National One sides this season. (Check out the Player Stats on the website, which give full details for the season – https://www.dundeehighrugby.club/scorers/)

So now it’s on to next season, with the visits from the club sides of the Super 6, plus Kelso, Musselburgh, Cartha, Biggar and  (in all probability) Highland, not to mention the small matter of a Rugby World Cup,  now lying ahead, after the close season break from what has been another full on season. Bring it on!

Dundee Team: 15 Fraser Mackay, 14 Ruaridh Hood, 13 Kieran Scoular, 12 Andrew Hamilton, 11 Kieran D’Aeth, 10 Harry Mercer, 9 Stewart Lathangie; 1 Jack Newth, 2 Craig Mackenzie, 3 Darren Donaldson, 4 Liam Quarm 5 Angus Thomson, 6 Kev Franco, 7 Angus Farquhar, 8 Stuart Barlow

Replacements 16 Taylor Smith, 17 Sean Gauld, 18 Josh Rutnagur, 19 Danny McGinn

Match Report – Kirkcaldy 26-70 Dundee High Rugby – 30 March 2019

And so to the Kingdom of Fife this week – Beveridge Park  to be precise – where for the first time in many years we travelled to take on old rivals Kirkcaldy RFC on their home patch. We narrowly won the corresponding fixture at Mayfield earlier in the season in a thrilling match, a game which Courier Rugby correspondent Steve Scott described as one of the best adverts for club rugby he had ever seen. The large Mayfield faithful travelling support were hoping for more of the same…

Dundee were missing influential playmaker Ross Aitken and the experienced Donald Sangster from last week’s starting XV, as well as hooker Andy Elton, but it was good to see Danny McGinn returning to the squad after being out injured since December. Ex-Dundee player Dayle Turner started for Kirkcaldy, who fielded an impressive centre pairing of ex Leeds Carnegie professional Axle Black and the talented local boy Josh Laird.

Last week, scrum half Stewart Lathangie scored his first try of the season. For him, tries are clearly a bit like buses – score one and next thing four more come along!  His first today came as he dummied over from a ruck near the Kirkcaldy line in the 5th minute, after a fast start by an initially dominant Dundee had seen No. 8 Danny Levison just fail to score seconds earlier.  Fraser McKay missed the conversion, but popped over a penalty a few minutes later to make it 8 – 0 Dundee. Straight from the kick off, No. 4 Lewis Macnamara took and drove, No. 10 Harry Mercer made 50 yards, and Kieran Scoular went over in the far corner to make it 13 – 0 Dundee.

The previous fixture had seen Kirkcaldy jump out to a convincing lead, only to be gradually overhauled by a determined Dundee side. For the next few minutes, it suddenly seemed like the same in reverse might be happening, as the Kirkcaldy team abruptly came to life, using their big forwards to drive at the Dundee defence. And as too often the case this season, Dundee started to miss some first up tackles, with first Kirkcaldy’s lock forward Struan Robertson, and then ex Dundee man Dayle Turner, going over for tries. Had both been converted, Kirkcaldy would have been in the lead after the first quarter, much against the run of play, but with one attempt going just astray, Dundee still held a narrow one point lead, 13 – 12.

Sport is all about turning points, and luckily for a rattled Dundee, one was just around the corner. Try scorer Turner went from saint to sinner as he was yellow carded some 10 metres out from the Kirkcaldy line. And Dundee took full advantage, scoring 3 tries during his enforced 10 minute absence. In a carbon copy of his first try, No. 9 Lathangie once more dummied over from close range, with Fraser adding the 2 point extras. Dundee 20, Kirkcaldy 12 after half an hour. Straight from the kick off, Angus Thomson fielded and made good yards, Harry Meadows took it on and did the same, and good hands let Fraser McKay cross in the far corner, to increase the lead to 25 – 12.

The first scrum of the game came, surprisingly, after 37 minutes, and the Dundee eight twice drove the short-handed Kirkcaldy scrum backwards in their own 22 at a rate of knots, with Danny Levison picking up at the base and going over for another converted try, to make it 32 – 12 to Dundee. Kirkcaldy were reeling, and after a trademark Levy take from the kick off, centre Duncan McIntyre made a good break down the middle, and cleverly fed Stewart Lathangie to let him round the full back at pace and score his 3rd try of the half. The conversion made it 39 -12 to Dundee at the break.

It took just 3 minutes of the 2nd half for Dundee to score their 7th try, No. 9 Lathangie crossing under the posts to take it out to 46 – 12 to Dundee. It looked like another score might come straight from kick off as receiver Stuart Barlow burst some Kirkcaldy tackles, and Man of the Match Craig Mackenzie, who had been finding his man well at the line out all afternoon, drove on into the Kirkcaldy 22, but the move petered out.  The score wasn’t long in coming, however, as Fraser McKay put in a kick ahead for Duncan McIntyre to win the race and touch the ball down. The successful conversion made it 53 – 12.

With the clock starting to wind down, Liam Quarm came on for Jack Newth at loosehead, as fellow prop Harry Meadows got in on the scoring act under the posts in the 60th minute, the kick making it 60 – 12. More replacements followed, with Kevin Franco replacing Angus Thomson and Ruaridh Hood taking over from Kieran D’Aeth. And it was Ruaridh who sparked a quality try for Dundee down the far touch line, running from his own half and linking with Harry Mercer, then on to Fraser McKay, who put in a lovely grubber kick for No. 8 Levison to get the score in one the best demonstrations of support play you’ll see. That lung bursting effort proved to be his last contribution, with Taylor Smith coming on in his place.

After a lengthy injury stoppage for one of the Kirkcaldy forwards, some of the energy understandably went out of the Dundee team. Although Stuart Barlow scored a final try, making it 11 in all for Dundee, two late Kirkcaldy efforts secured them their try bonus point, bringing the game to a close with the final score reading Dundee 70, Kirkcaldy 26.

Reflections: so Dundee escape the relegation trap door, after 3 wins on the bounce, and a huge improvement on earlier season displays. Coach Colin Sangster was rightly satisfied afterwards, by the planning undertaken early in the New Year as to how to turn things around, by the commitment shown by the boys in training, especially throughout the 6 weeks off during the Six Nations in February, and by the much improved team performances in March. Building for next season starts now…!

Dundee Team: 15 Fraser Mackay, 14 Kieran Scoular, 13 Duncan McIntyre, 12 Andrew Hamilton, 11, Kieran D’Aeth 10, Harry Mercer 9 Stewart Lathangie; 1 Jack Newth, 2 Craig Mackenzie, 3 Harry Meadows, 4 Lewis Macnamara, 5, 6 Stuart Barlow, 7 Angus Farquhar, 8 Danny Levison

Replacements 16 Taylor Smith, 17 Liam Quarm, 18 Kevin Franco, 19 Danny McGinn, 20 Ruaridh Hood

Match Report – Dundee High Rugby 46-29 Kelso – 23 March 2019

Dundee came roaring out of the blocks on a lovely spring day at Mayfield, described by guest lunch speaker and ex-international Stewart Campbell as about the best setting he’d ever played rugby at, and he’s played all round the world! Dundee kicked off with the strong wind (blowing down the  pitch to the Dalgleish Road end) in their favour.  A good Fraser McKay penalty after 4 minutes from around the 10 metre line helped ease any early nerves.

After dominating possession and territory for the next 10 minutes, Dundee suddenly caught fire, crossing for 4 unanswered tries in the next 20 as this steadily strengthening young  team  benefited from the quality added by the recent return of a handful of senior players. First, Ross Aitken went over just left of the posts, after a good Stuart Barlow drive. Fraser’s conversion made it 10 – 0 Dundee after 13 minutes. Kelso’s kick off was well fielded (Dundee’s restart play throughout was a vast improvement on some earlier performances this season) and a howitzer with the wind from Kieran Scoular took play from Dundee’s 22 to 10 metres from Kelso’s line. Kelso’s lineout throw went wrong, Angus Farquhar collected the overthrown ball, and a couple of drives later Stuart Barlow burst through for another Dundee try, again converted by Fraser. 17 – 0 after 16 minutes.

Once more, Dundee returned Kelso’s kick off with interest as confidence started to surge through the team – Barlow again made some hard yards and almost put McKay through, until the cover defence just pulled him down. But Borders teams never lie down, and Kelso finally started to play a bit, taking play to 30 metres out, where a penalty for a high tackle gave them their first shot at goal. The attempt drifted wide.

Dundee were using the wind well to keep play down towards Kelso’s line. An opportunity for Dundee from a 5 metre line out went abegging, but they kept pressing and a counter attack sparked by full back McKay went through the hands well, finishing with No. 4 Lewis Macnamara going over in the right hand corner for an unconverted try. Dundee 22, Kelso 0.

Yet again Kelso’s kick off was well taken, this time by Danny Levison, playing in the 2nd row, and a typical Harry Meadows 15 metre burst shredded the Kelso defence, giving Andrew Hamilton the chance to break through the last defender’s tackle and cross for his 7th try of the season, joint top along with Duncan McIntyre. Fraser’s conversion made in 29 – 0 for Dundee after 30 minutes.

Kelso at last got some traction in the game, and a tap penalty 5 metres out in the 34th minute led to centre Kindness touching down, the conversion making it Dundee 29 Kelso 7. A 2nd Dundee penalty by McKay on the stroke of half time made it 32 – 7 at the break. However, Kelso would have the strong wind in their favour in the 2nd half. Could they “do a Scotland”…?

Angus Thomson replaced Danny Levison at half time, and Dundee started the 2nd half in the same fashion as the first, a great “1 – 2” by Lewis Macnamara almost letting the big man over in the far corner straight away, until the cover defence just overtook him. The try was not long delayed, Lewis again making ground and scrum half Stewart Lathangie dummying over for his first try of the season. Dundee 39 – Kelso 7.

Kelso responded with the first of 2 tries from second row Common coming after 48 minutes from a rolling maul after a Kelso lineout 5 metres out. Dundee 39, Kelso 12.

Harry Mercer came on for Andrew Hamilton, and Kieran D’Aeth for Ruaridh Hood, as Dundee started to use their strong bench. Kieran was not to last long on the pitch, however. A Kelso kick ahead down his wing led to a collision as the players chased the rolling ball, deemed unfair by the referee and resulting in a yellow card for him after just 5 minutes on the pitch. From the Kelso penalty, kicked to the corner, another try ensued for No. 5 Common, duly converted, and narrowed the score to 39 – 19 in Dundee’s favour, with 56 minutes gone on the clock.

Down to 14 men, against the wind and with a series of penalties in Kelso’s favour, Dundee now started to struggle a little, and the large travelling Kelso support began to find their voice as their team pressed on a Dundee side pinned down in their own half. Good play by McIntyre and Aitken, finishing in a Dundee penalty, at last eased the pressure.

Pace can be so important in rugby, and so it proved as Dundee worked the ball out to the now restored Kieran D’Aeth on the half way line, who took off down his left wing, showing the Kelso defence a clean pair of heels with a strong run for Dundee’s 6th try, converted by McKay, to put the game beyond Kelso’s reach at 46 – 19 with just over 10 minutes left.

No 6 Donald Sangster had picked up a knock and made way for Kevin Franco, and the hard working Jack Newth was replaced by Lewis McLean as Dundee made full use of their bench. Defence was now the order of the day – Angus Farquhar, Harry Mercer, Ross Aitken, Andy Elton and Duncan McIntyre all adding to their tackle counts as Kelso pressed for the bonus point try.  Eventually, however, the home defence ran out of numbers, and Kelso No. 6 Brown crossed to secure the bonus point. A yellow card shortly after for Stewart Lathangie left a tired Dundee unable to hold out against Kelso’s last play, and their closing try made the final score Dundee 46, Kelso 29.

Dundee Team: 15 Fraser Mackay, 14 Kieran Scoular, 13 Duncan McIntyre, 12 Andrew Hamilton, 11 Ruaridh Hood, 10 Ross Aitken, 9 Stewart Lathangie; 1 Jack Newth, 2 Andy Elton, 3 Harry Meadows, 4 Lewis Macnamara, 5 Danny Levison , 6 Donald Sangster, 7 Angus Farquhar, 8 Stuart Barlow

Replacements 16 Lewis McLean, 17 Kev Franco, 18 Angus Thomson, 19 Harry Mercer, 20 Kieran D’Aeth

Match Report – Jed-Forest 42-9 Dundee High Rugby – 26 January 2019

Another weekend, and another trip to God’s own country, also known as the Borders, this time to Jedburgh, where President Paul Cranston and his band of helpers (including the legendary Roy Laidlaw) did their best to make us feel even more welcome (off the park!) than Selkirk had last week.

It was another perfect day for rugby at Riverside Park, unlike rain-lashed and windy Biggar, just 40 miles away, where our Titans had earlier ground out a notable 8 – 3 win (clearly a game for the rugby purists!) against all the odds. Jed kicked off on a perfect surface with no wind whatsoever to trouble the players, but got a wake up call in the first minute as a big Dundee scrum shunted them back and won Dundee a penalty, the first of many in our favour that half. For once, Dundee had started well, and they kept that going throughout the first half, apart from one 2 minute spell, which cost us dear. The restored Angus Thomson put in a couple of good tackles, skipper Fraser McKay delivered a couple of good attacking kicks, and after 10 minutes a penalty was banged over by Fraser to put us 3 – 0 ahead.  Unfortunately, despite all the good work being put in in all other departments, particularly our ball retention and clearing out at the break down, much improved from last week, our line out was yet again a weakness, with Jed attacking our throw well, and we could never establish any platform off that all afternoon.

And after 25 minutes, we paid the price. An attacking line out was lost, Jed’s dangerous backs made a searing break, and looked odds on to score until a great covering tackle halted them just short.  Dundee were forced to concede a penalty (the first of the half!) and Jed set up a lineout 5 metres out, which they won comfortably. A series of pick and drives followed, leading to prop Ferreira going over, converted by Jed No. 9 (and man of the match) Gary Munro. 7 – 3 to Jed. Dundee kicked off, but a huge clearing kick by Jed took play back to our 22, and another lost lineout led to a decisive Jed midfield break for Gregor Young to canter over under our posts. Dundee, who had matched Jed in every department except the line out, were suddenly 14 – 3 down. Skipper McKay had been injured in the build up to Jed’s score, and was replaced by Paul Ritch, who slotted in on the wing, and Kieran Scoular moving to full back.

What looked like another Jed score was denied for a “double movement”, and Dundee took advantage of that escape to regroup and work their way back into the game. Harry Meadows was again making good yards with a number of carries, and Dundee looked the likelier team to score, with Kieran Scoular duly slotting over another penalty to make it 14 – 6 to Jed at half time.

Flanker Kevin Franco had been replaced by Andy Hamilton as the 1st half drew to a close, and at half time 2nd row Andy Clarkson made way for Greg Anderson.  Dundee started the second half brightly, and another scrum penalty on Jed’s 22, after a great break by stand off Harry Mercer, who many felt was having his best game so far, was slotted over by Scoular to bring Dundee back to within 5 points of Jed. Keiran D’Aeth took a knock and was replaced by Josh Rutnagur taking over the No. 9 duties, with Stewart Lathangie moving out to the wing.

But as so often happens in a season where things go against you, the roof suddenly fell in on a game Dundee side. Jed’s No. 10, who kicked well all afternoon, pushed through a defence breaking grubber, gathered by their full back Young, who was just denied by a great covering tackle by Paul Ritch. Jed recycled possession, and another kick through took a wicked bounce, Lathangie on the wing infringed to prevent a certain try, and was rewarded for his efforts by a yellow card, and a penalty try to Jed. 21 – 9 after 55 minutes.

Prop Jack Newth, who had put in another good shift, was now replaced by debutant Darren Donaldson, but suddenly, the stuffing seemed to have been knocked out of this Dundee side, and Jed took clinical advantage of this as they seemed to move up a gear in the last 25 minutes.  Winger Cranston scored 2 tries as the Dundee defence, one man short, ran out of defenders in the 58th  and 65th minutes, and a final try by second row Skeldon with 4 minutes left, all 3 converted by  Munro, made the final score 42 – 9 to Jed.

Reflections: Jed were a clinically efficient team, with their dangerous backs making some searing breaks, but the scoreline did not do credit to a solid Dundee performance for the first hour or so, before Jed’s strong finish made sure they ended the day back up on top of National League One.

Dundee Team: 15 Fraser Mackay, 14 Kieran D’Aeth, 13 Marshall McLeod, 12 Ross Aitken, 11 Kieran Scoular, 10 Harry Mercer, 9 Stewart Lathangie; 1 Jack Newth, 2 Dylan Whitcombe, 3 Harry Meadows, 4 Andy Clarkson, 5 Angus Thomson, 6 Kev Franco, 7 Angus Farquhar, 8 Lewis Macnamara

Replacements 16 Darren Donaldson, 17 Greg Anderson, 18 Andrew Hamilton, 19 Josh Rutnagur, 20 Paul Ritch

Match Report – Selkirk 28-8 Dundee High Rugby – 19 January 2019

The threatened big freeze had failed to materialise, meaning Dundee kicked off against Selkirk in cold but perfectly playable conditions at Philiphaugh, under one of the best sets of floodlights in Scottish Rugby. Indeed, the whole of Philiphaugh was looking in great nick, a credit to the hard work that this friendliest of clubs (off the pitch!) put into the game.

Dundee’s only ever present so far this season, Angus Thomson, was missing for the first time, Andy Clarkson taking his place. Andy Dymock started at scrum half as a late replacement for the injured Stewart Lathangie, and Jack Newth made his league debut at loosehead prop, becoming the 50th different player to have played for our 1st XV this season.

Dundee’s first few lineouts in Selkirk’s half went well, with South African hooker Dylan Whitcombe hitting his man, but a couple of penalties as Dundee struggled to clear out break downs let Selkirk ease the pressure. Selkirk’s No. 15, Rory Banks, pushed a penalty attempt wide in the 9th minute, but Dundee failed to take advantage of that let off. A charged down kick on our 22 led to too many Dundee players failing to secure the loose ball. Selkirk’s No. 7 Higgins had no such inhibitions, however, touching it down among a posse of Dundee players as it bounced back over our line. No. 15 Banks slotted the conversion, and it was 7 – 0 to Selkirk after 10 minutes.

After some midfield exchanges, Selkirk increased their lead all too easily from 1st phase ball, when a big gap opened up in Dundee’s midfield as Selkirk’s winger Anderson cut back inside, cantering over under the posts for a converted try to make it 14 – 0 with just 18 minutes gone.

Dundee regrouped, and worked their way up to Selkirk’s 5 metre line. Under pressure, our line out throw went wrong, but Selkirk knocked on, giving us a second bite at the cherry. And we took full advantage, good handling leading to a Fijian style flipped pass from skipper McKay to No. 14 Kieran D’Aeth, who went over in the far corner. Fraser missed the kick, but at 14 – 5  with over 10 minutes of the first half still to go, the Dundee supporters felt their side were coming back into it.

Dundee’s Man of the Match, prop Harry Meadows, was prominent with a number of good carries, and the Dundee scrum started to cause Selkirk all sorts of problems in the set, with prop Jack Newth giving his opposite number what might be called a good working over! As the first half drew to a close, a tremendous break by centre Ross Aitken nearly pierced the Selkirk defence, but he just couldn’t quite link with the supporting Kieran Scoular, and Selkirk held out, albeit at the cost of a penalty which McKay popped over to make it 14 – 8 to Selkirk at half time.  Could Dundee keep up the standard of that last 20 minutes in the second half?

Sadly, the answer is not quite. After starting well, and scorning a couple of kicks at goal for 5 metre lineouts which misfired, a series of 3 penalties in as many minutes took play from Selkirk’s 5 metre line to ours. In a good illustration of the difference between the 2 sides, Selkirk then executed their lineout well, attacked patiently, and after 4 or 5 recycles the Dundee defence ran out of men, letting Selkirk’s No. 13 Clapperton trot over in the corner for a well converted try. Selkirk’s lead was 21 – 8 with 52 minutes gone, after what was their first visit into Dundee territory in the second half. Andy Clarkson, who had tackled well all afternoon, had received a bang in the face for his pains in the build up to the try, and was replaced by Niall Hall.

More changes followed, as Kieran Scoular and Neil Turnbull also both suffered knocks (Turnbull’s coming as he was just stopped short of the Selkirk line), with their respective replacements being Paul Ritch and a happily restored Clarkson. Dundee were working hard, with No. 9 Dymock making some sniping runs from the base of the break down, and young No. 10 Harry Mercer (who drew high words of praise from former Scotland and British Lion stand off John Rutherford after the game) trying all he knew to break through. However, the well organised Selkirk defence stood firm, snuffing out one great Niall Hall break on their 22 as Dundee failed to get men there quickly enough to retain possession. More knocks meant Andy Hamilton came on for flanker Angus Farquhar, who like his back row colleagues Lewis Macnamara and Kevin Franco had never stopped competing all afternoon, and Kieran returned for centre Duncan McIntyre, who had made a couple of good breaks to no avail in the 2nd half.

Dundee were tiring as their efforts to knock down Selkirk’s defensive brick wall came to nothing, and as so often happens, it was Selkirk who had the final say against a weary Dundee defence, Borthwick going over for a try in the very last minute of the game. Bank’s conversion made it 28 – 8 at full time, which the Dundee faithful felt was an unfair reflection on Dundee’s performance over the 80 minutes. However, our lack of penetration, often caused by our failure to secure quick ball from the break down, meant we never quite pressed Selkirk hard enough.

Dundee Team: 15 Fraser Mackay, 14 Kieran D’Aeth, 13 Duncan McIntyre, 12 Ross Aitken, 11 Kieran Scoular, 10 Harry Mercer, 9 Andy Dymock; 1 Jack Newth, 2 Dylan Whitcombe, 3 Harry Meadows, 4 Andy Clarkson, 5 Neil Turnbull, 6 Kev Franco, 7 Angus Farquhar, 8 Lewis Macnamara

Replacements 16 Taylor Smith, 17 Niall Hall, 18 Andrew Hamilton, 20 Paul Ritch

Match Report – Dundee High 33-36 Cartha Queens Park – 12 January 2019

On a beautiful day Dundee hosted Cartha, the team propping up the division. But all knew this would be a difficult encounter; and so it proved.

The afternoon started fair with president Gerry in acerbic form so soon after his 70th birthday bash.

Then ex-players joined the fray with Paul Rouse, Bruce Mclaren , Gus Carnegie and Stuart Wright to the fore. Bruce had travelled all the way from Nepal, sorry Bruce.

So to the game:

The pitch was splendid, the wind soft and someone said if you cant play in these conditions etc!

It was obvious from the off that Cartha were up for it and dominated the first 10 minutes. Then a flashing move from the visitors saw Dundee lucky to remain 0-0 as a knock on at the line denied Cartha an opening score.

Dundee’s scrum looked solid but it was the midfield pressure from Cartha that promised better things.

And so it proved, with the Glasgow team going through 5 phases before scoring to the right of the posts; 7-0 after 15 minutes, Cartha were exerting lots of effort. could they keep it up?

Sort answer: yes.

From the restart Cartha again ran from deep with Dundee’s defence embarrassed but given a reprieve with a Cartha knock-on when a score looked certain.

Dundee infringed at the resulting scrum. Cartha choose to kick for a line out and 5 phases later had their 2nd score; 14-0 after 23 minutes.

Devoted fans were becoming very concerned and after 26 minutes their weird was drawn as Dundee’s first meaningful attack foundered on a bad pass, allowing Cartha to counter from deep; 19-0 after 26 minutes

Then Dundee woke up and scruffy but gritty play led to Duncan Mcintyre scoring Dundee’s first; 19-5 after 37 minutes,

Dundee now realised that effort was required and pushed hard for the remainder of the half.

A great break from deep saw young stand off Harry Meadows clutching a pass he had no right to hold, the move continued and harry saw the ball over the whitewash – converted; 19-12 at half time

Dundee’s high hopes suffered a harsh blow 46 seconds into the second half. From Dundee’s ko Cartha ran the length of the park to score; 26 -12

I am sorry, but there was only one team in it, but credit to Dundee’s young team for sticking to the task. A pressure pen saw Cartha stretch ahead; 31-12

Dundee upped their game with aggression but no accuracy. The subs from both sides indicated that crucial 20 mins to go period.

Then out of nothing Lewis Macnamara made a wonderful break and fed skip Mackay, who scored and converted; 29-19

A resurgent Dundee then started playing muscle rugby to good effect, Neil Turnbull came to the fore, and his feed saw Andrew Thompson score under the posts. skip converted; 29-26 game on.

Then all hell broke loose with Dundee playing sevens’ style, and a great move ended with the captain putting in a great kick which saw Cartha preventing a try, result: penalty try and a yellow to the visitors.

33-29 Dundee with 13 minutes left, game management now needed.

And then with Cartha tiring, an aberration occurred, and it went against Dundee. A blatant block was missed by the officials, and Cartha went through the resultant hole to score; 36-33
and that’s how it ended.

Cartha played for 83 minutes Dundee for 20 but could and should have won it.

Adios

Match Report – Dundee High 20-21 Gala – 8 December 2018

It was a full Lunch Club as 84 early Christmas revellers descended on Mayfield on a raw December morning, including 3 tables of guests at well known Dundee High Rugby supporter Colin Dargie’s birthday celebrations.

President Tosh was in fine form, insulting, in turn, the sponsors, the honourable guests and the Gala committee in such a kind and caring way that they laughed along with everyone else.

As the chat turned to the match, it was felt that the young – and again injury hit – Dundee side would have to be at their best against a Gala side sitting in mid-table. Vice President McDonald’s programme notes provided a sobering reminder of how rugby used to be down Gala way when he stated that in March 1971 there were 6 Gala men in the Scotland team that beat England in 2 successive Saturdays at Murrayfield. However, as Sandy pointed out . Dundee High School FP were also represented in the form of our legendary Chris Rea.

Changed days indeed.

A glance at the Dundee team saw a new name at 10 –  Harry Mercer , a 17 year old Madras Academy schoolboy. In recent years , Dundee High have fielded a number of 17 year olds –  Euan Fox , Chris Jollands , Sean Gauld , Angus Fraser –  so we are certainly doing our bit for Scottish youth rugby.

To accommodate Harry , Ross Aitken moves to 12 where his centre partner is Marshall McLeod. Marshall is the grandson of club legend Gordon Bruno Burnett  . The fact that Marshall has graduated from Oxford University , led to the question being asked at the Clubhouse Bar –  “name another Oxford  –  or indeed Cambridge graduate who has played for Dundee High Rugby “?”. Answers on a postcard , please………

And so to the match :

Dundee were attacking the Dalgleish Road end and were immediately under pressure – indeed camped in their 22 , as Gala went through several phases. A pattern emerged whereby the Dundee defence held firm , eventually won the ball , then kicked it back to Gala. Time after time Gala recycled the ball , but Dundee’s defence was looking up for the challenge and was not breached.

Eventually , Gala were awarded a penalty which seemed eminently kickable.

However Gala 10  Keddie –  in possibly his only mistake of the match –  pulled the kick wide.

However , rather than relieving the pressure , the Dundee drop out went straight to Gala who ran it back and the same pattern emerging. Once again the Dundee defence held firm , with the back row –  Gav , Gus Farquhar and Baz to the fore.

Unfortunately , Baz was deemed by the referee to be too much to the fore as one of his tackles was deemed to be a “no arms tackle” and a yellow was brandished.

This would not be the last of the menage a trois between the referee , his cards and  Baz…….

Although a man down , the Dundee defence held firm and eventually a Ross Aitken kick freed the pressure.

This allowed Dundee to spent time in the Gala half , but came up against determined Gala defence until Gav Hughan secured a turnover and a penalty.

Fraser nailed the kick.

Dundee High 3 Gala 0,

This seemed to give the young Dundee side confidence and they went further ahead , when following an Aitken  break  , the ball was moved wide and Harry combined with Marshall to send Gus Farquhar  over in the corner.

Fraser converted

Dundee High 10 Gala 0.

This was an impressive performance by Dundee given that they were down on 14 men and Baz then returned to take them back to full strength.

Things got better when following a Stuart Lathangie break , Gus was in support to take the ball forward  with Fraser set to take the ball on , Gala were penalised for blocking Fraser .

This seemed to upset the Gala bench and shouts of complaint were heard in an unfamiliar language –  not English – but thought to be a particular dialect of “Borders speak”.

Regardless , Fraser was not deterred and kicked the penalty.

Dundee High 13 Gala 0.

The pattern of the opening phase of the first half was then restored with Gala maintaining possession around the Dundee 22 , going through several phases , bur the Dundee defence in good form.

The Dundee defence stood firm to half time.

Half Time –  Dundee High 13 Gala 0.

At half time, Dundee brought on Franco for Stewart at hooker and Neil Turnbull replaced Euan Grewar in the second row.

The second half commenced in the same vein as the first half, with Gala basically having the ball and keeping the ball.

The feeling amongst the Dundee support was that this could be a long half if Gala continued to dominate possession and Dundee conceded early, particularly if Dundee conceded early in the half.

Unfortunately, 10 minutes into the second half Gala did score and it was unnecessary from a Dundee perspective. A squint thrown in near their line gave Gala a scrum, their number eight Euan Dodds picked up, and fed 9 Fairburn who waltzed unchallenged over the line.

Keddie converted with a super kick.

Dundee High 13 Gala 7.

Dundee then tried to force the play into Gala’s half , with young 10 Mercer showing admirable confidence in throwing the ball around.

Then , following a passage of play in midfield , Stuart Barlow did what seemed like a “tip tackle” on the Gala 9 . This did not go down well with the Gala players and there was a bit of handbags between the forwards. After the referee had resumed order , he went to have a consultation with the assistant referee. This episode was unlikely to end well for Baz who had already been yellow-carded in the first half , with the only question being which colour of card would be produced this time.

This question was answered when the referee flashed a red card and it was jotters for Baz.

Was it a red card offence ?

Your reporter took the views of 3 Mayfield legends on the touchline –  Harvey Wright , Sandy Hutch and Neil Paddy Paterson  and each confirmed that it was in their view a red , so it was difficult to complain about the ref’s decision.

This would undoubtedly make Dundee’s task harder  and Gala took advantage quickly .

After a period of possession near the Dundee line , one of their forwards burrowed over for a try.

Fly half Keddie’s conversion hit the post and in keeping with Dundee’s luck this season , dropped over the bar to get the extra 2 points.

Dundee High 13 Gala 14

With 10 minutes left , Gala went further ahead when centre Edmunds broke from midfield and went over.

Keddie again converted.

Dundee High 13 Gala 21

Gala were continuing to enjoy the majority of the possession at this stage and were looking to add to their lead , when a loose pass was intercepted by Dundee winger Paul Ritch who raced away to score , with Fraser converting well.

Dundee High 20 Gala 21.

This seemed to set things up for a grandstand finish , as the consensus of opinion amongst the Dundee supporters on the touchline was that there were around 5 minutes left,

However , after 2 minutes play in midfield , the referee’s whistle went for no side, to put the tin lid on a disappointing afternoon for Dundee.

FINAL SCORE – DUNDEE HIGH 20 GALA 21

Reflections

It is always desperately disappointing to lose a match by  one point , but this was particularly agonising given that a conversion hitting the post and dropping over as opposed to short was the difference between Dundee winning and losing the match.

Gala could point to the fact that they had by far the greater share of possession , but the Dundee defence was strong and committed throughout.

The efforts and commitment of the Dundee players could not be faulted and more of the same will be required as the team head for Hamilton and a crucial match next Saturday.

Match Report – GHA 33-3 Dundee High – 1 December 2018

And so to Braidholm, home to that interesting rugby ménage a trois between Glasgow Southern, Hutchesons and Aloysians, known as GHA, whose happy cohabitation is still going strong to this day!   (Speaking of which, some of us old enough to remember the good old days when Britain and Europe fell for each other in the 70s, those innocent years before their bitter Brexit divorce battle of today, will also recall that Glasgow Southern were at that time known as Clarkston!)

The rain had been battering Braidholm for most of the week, with their pitch under pools of water on Friday, but the improved drainage (which has been an unexpected bonus from their construction of a 3G training pitch and lights on their 2nds pitch next door) meant the surface was perfectly playable and held up remarkably well for the whole 80 minutes.

Making his debut for Dundee at No. 10 was Harry Mercer, a 17 year old from Madras, who for one so young (and who due to injury had played so little rugby recently) had a very assured game, not looking out of place at all at a level considerably higher than any he had experienced before. Only 6 out of the 15 Dundee players lining up for the kick off had started in the corresponding fixture at Mayfield some 3 months ago, reflecting yet again the high rate of attrition that so plagues club rugby today.

The GHA pack looked a formidable unit as the game got under way, and they soon established themselves in Dundee’s half, where they were to spend much of the rest of the afternoon. But perhaps to GHA’s surprise, the Dundee scrum fronted up well all game, and the hard work put in at training during the past week meant Dundee were doing well in the set, both scrum and lineout. The backs defence however was taking a little time to come together, and two or three early line breaks put Dundee under pressure that GHA were unable to capitalise on.

With 15 minutes gone, Josh took a quick penalty and Dundee broke out into GHA’s half for the first time. Good rugby took the ball to within a yard of GHA’s line, where frustratingly a knock on ended the opportunity of a classic breakaway score. Dundee held GHA in and around their own 22 for quite some time after that, but without ever really threatening their try line again.

Gradually, GHA regrouped and ground their way back up the field, and went over the Dundee line in the 25th minute, only for the ‘score’ to be ruled out for a forward pass by referee Young, having a first-rate game in his first start at this level (where has he been?). Stand-off Mercer then made a good covering tackle as GHA pressed, and some poor kicking and wrong options meant that their first score was proving elusive.

They build them big in Texas. In fact, very, very big. And eventually the human oil rig known as big Bill Kaspar, visiting the UK for some months and playing in GHA’s second row, proved too much in the 29th minute, bulldozing through the Dundee defence for a touch down duly converted by scrum half George Baird. 7 – 0 to the home side.

Undaunted, Dundee took it to GHA following the restart, and after a scrum 15 metres out, Danny McGinn went in at the corner, only to be ruled out for a foot in touch. A couple of minutes later, however, a big hit on him meant he had to leave the field injured, Paul Ritch coming on in his place. As the first half drew to a close, Fraser McKay slotted a penalty (one of only 4 conceded by GHA in the entire match!) to make it 7 – 3 at half time.

Dundee had done well to keep GHA to one score so far – but would their power and perhaps some tactical rethinking prove too strong in the next 40 minutes?

‘Yes’ is unfortunately the answer to that rhetorical question, as straight after the break, GHA drove forward from a line out maul for the first time, disrupting the Dundee defence and after some good recycling letting No 8 Ross Angus drive over for another converted try. 14 – 3 to GHA.

Dundee were coming under increase pressure, trying to force plays from scraps of possession, with one hospital pass in particular putting scrum half Josh Rutnagur through the GHA mincing machine from which he was lucky to emerge still in one piece, looking as if he had just had 12 quick rounds with Tyson Fury.

GHA took 2 quick penalties on the Dundee 22, but a great Angus Farquhar steal, backed up by No. 8 Stuart Barlow, forced them back. However, possession was kicked away, and Big Bill revved it up once again to crash over for his 2nd try, stretching GHA to a 19 -3 lead after 47 minutes.

It was becoming one way traffic – when Dundee did have possession, all they could do was kick it back to GHA to run at them once more. Luckily, GHA at times once more started finding ways not to score, helped by some courageous and well organised Dundee defence which twice denied them touch downs when they were over the line.

But Dundee could only hold out for so long, and in the 63rd minute GHA centre Max MacFarlane went over for GHA’s 4th try, the conversion making it 26 -3. A flurry of substitutions for a tiring Dundee side around this time had seen Neil Turnbull come on for Angus Thomson, Lewis McLean for the combative Neil Dymock, Rory McGinn for Kieran D’Aeth, who had looked dangerous with limited possession, and Kevin Franco on for the ever willing Andrew Hamilton. Speaking of which, an injury to hooker Ceillem Stewart a few moments later meant an unexpected recall for Hammy, coffee cup still in hand, as Kevin Franco moved up to hooker and Hammy resumed his back row berth.

These changes gave Dundee some new energy. Paul Ritch had a good run into GHA’s 22, and shortly afterwards, Dundee’s best move of the game saw Fraser McKay just unable to find Stuart Barlow on GHA’s 22, with a clear run to the line if the pass had gone to hand. That was Dundee’s final flourish, however, and at the death another converted GHA try made it 33 -3 as the full time whistle went, a scoreline that did not really do justice to Dundee’s efforts and contribution to a very entertaining game of rugby.

FINAL SCORE –  GHA 33 DUNDEE 3.

Match Report – Dundee High 0-35 Marr – 17 November 2018

With another changed team containing yet more débutantes, Dundee were more likely to rely on hope than expectation as Marr kicked off. The ball did not travel 10 metres, resulting in a scrum at the centre and that first scrum signalled a difficulty for Dundee throughout the match as they were pushed back by the visitors’ pack. Dundee were penalised, giving Marr possession and leading to a kick through, chased by winger Dalgleish for the touch down. Colin Sturgeon added the conversion and Marr were ahead 0-7 after only 5 minutes.

Dundee responded with a good spell of possession and a penalty chance was offered.:Fraser’s kick flew just wide of the left-hand post however. Dundee still managed to retain position in the Marr half but paid for insecure handling and penalty offences, allowing Marr to reach a position 10 metres from the Dundee line. When Dundee were penalised five metres from the line, Marr opted for the scrum. Dundee were penalised again and this time Marr kicked for touch. Scrambled, close-quarter possession enabled Colin Sturgeon to cross for a touch-down and he converted the try to take Marr to 0-14 with 24 minutes played.

Dundee hit back well and were rewarded with another penalty chance, but this time, Fraser’s kick sailed just outside the right-hand post. Dundee continued to try hard, but without much penetration, and, when possession was lost, A good inter-passing, featuring right-winger, Scott Bickerstaff, ended with him scoring a try, again converted by Colin Sturgeon, to take Marr into the interval 0-21 ahead.

Half-time: Dundee HSFP 0 Marr 21

Dundee were looking good, up to a point, but lacked real penetration. Had the score been restricted to two tries, there was a feeling that, with slight wind advantage in the second half, Dundee might take something out of the game, but the third Marr try rather put paid to that hope.

The second half remained fairly even and mostly in mid-field, until big break by Scott Bickerstaff took play into the Dundee 22. Dundee were penalised, but Marr lost the ball over the Dundee line. It only postponed the score for a few moments however, because Marr pushed Dundee off their 5-metre put in, for a try credited to No 8 Grant. Again, Sturgeon converted and the bonus point was Marr’s at 0-28.

For long periods, Dundee were giving as good as they got, but were being thwarted by indifferent handling. It took a Marr break to end the stalemate and their full-back managed to squeeze in at the left-hand corner for a try again converted by the reliable Sturgeon.

Further Dundee pressure ensued but another lost ball ended their challenge in the contest.

Full time: Dundee HSFP 0 Marr 35

A closer second half resulting from an improved Dundee performance, all the more creditable for the number of changes in the team. With greater accuracy, a closer result may well have been possible.

Dundee Player of the Match: Josh Rutnagur

Match Report – Dundee High 13-33 Aberdeen Grammar 10 November 2018

With Scotland’s game against Fiji causing a twelve noon kick–off, the fixture could not be accommodated at Mayfield so Forfar Road played host on a beautiful Autumn day.

Playing for precious match points and the Dallas Allardice Trophy, Dundee chose to play up the slope and into a stiff breeze.

Dundee’s prep for this one had been challenging to say the least, with four injury call offs on Thursday and a further two players off to Murrayfield. So Morgan’s hooker Taylor Smith made his first appearance for the Crown and didn’t look out of place.

Aberdeen lined up with three ex High players in the squad, Greg Ryan and Jollands in their back row and Emu aka Robin Cessford on the bench.

As expected then Aberdeen had the bulk of possession and went 7-0 up early doors. Dundee’s effort and endeavor was commendable and things got a wee bit easier when Aberdeen’s hooker got 10 in the sin bin.

However, both teams’ accuracy was not the best, with the home side taking the knock on contest with at least 4 in the opening half.

It was now Dundee’s fate to go down to 14 men with skipper McKay off for ten after a deliberate knock on. Then came Aberdeen’s second through a penalty try conceded at a ten metre scrum. The half came to a close with winger Ruaridh Hood off with an ankle knock, and the talk in the home support crowd was that they had done well to keep it to 2 scores against the elements.

Dundee seemed to get the message that kicking for position was the best option and it was the visitors who were trying to play from their try line. Then some messy stuff from both teams ended with a converted try for Dundee through Ross Aitken.

14-7 and looking better with the pace of Dundee’s play going up a notch and at last some phases of play in the opposition’s red zone. Dundee goaled two penalties in quick succession and it looked game on at 14-13. Aberdeen seemed to be struggling to get out of their twenty two and the feeling was if Dundee kept up the simple style of kicking deep then playing rugby all would be well.

Dundee though reverted to running the ball from anywhere and everywhere with poor ball retention. When Aberdeen were handed the ball in midfield they ran directly and with purpose and this with the home team’s tackling taking a back seat meant 3 scores, all run in from 30+ metres. So from 14-13 down High found themselves bewildered and 33-13 down as fulltime approached.

Aberdeen got 5 points and a trophy and scooted back up to the Granite City tout de suite.

For Dundee to have taken anything from this game they needed to stick to the pragmatic position/possession style, keep ball and up the intensity in the tackle.

Let’s hope Coach Sangster has a less fraught week coming up and he gets some players back healthy and on it.