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.

Match Report – Dundee High 36-29 Kirkcaldy – 27 October 2018

The cautious optimism around Mayfield which followed Dundee’s exciting victory over Selkirk in early October had evaporated following a heavy home defeat by Jedforest and a loss to Musselburgh in a match that in the words of Head Coach Colin Sangster the Dundee team “did not turn up”.

As a result, Dundee entered the match against local rivals Kirkcaldy sitting second bottom of the league with 10 points. This was 4 points behind Kirkcaldy, who came to Mayfield confident following last week’s victory over Cartha QP.

As Steve Scott mentioned in his rugby column in Friday’s Courier, this was the first competitive match between the clubs for 4 years and Midlands Rugby bragging rights were at stake, along with the vital league points.

A look at the Dundee team revealed that the welcome return of Gus Farquhar at flank, having missed the match against Jed. However, vice- captain Lewis McNamara was still out injured, as was captain Fraser McKay and Stuart Lathangie.

They faced a Kirkcaldy side with ex Dundee forward Conor Wood in their ranks. Another ex- Dundee player Dayle Turner was unavailable, but the Fife team boasted an impressive centre combination of ex Leeds Carnegie professional Alex Black and the exceptionally talented local boy Josh Laird. Another well- known local lad Geordie Munro failed to make the final 23.

It was mentioned before the match that both teams regular strip was blue –   would this cause a clash, similar to the farcical clash in the recent Heineken Champions Cup clash between Cardiff and Glasgow?

No such cock up here, with Dundee entering the fray in white, with Kirkcaldy in royal blue-  think of Rangers blue.

After a poor first half last week against Musselburgh, the Dundee team were determined to get into top gear as soon as possible in this match.

Unfortunately, their start was disastrous. Kirkcaldy kicked off, the Dundee pack did not gather, the ball bounced out for a line out. Kirkcaldy won the line out from a Dundee throw and  their pack rumbled forward and drove over the line.

5-0 Kirkcaldy.

This was just the start that Dundee did not want and things got worse when prop Harry Meadows went off injured following the second scrum.

Could things get any worse for Dundee?

Well, yeah………………

With only 10 minutes on the clock, Kirkcaldy scored again –  a flat pass from scrum half Anderson was taken at pace by experienced hooker Greg Wallace who burst through the Dundee midfield to run 35 yards to score between the posts. Finlay Smith converted.

12-0 Kirkcaldy

In a moment of wry humour (required in these trying times), the comment was made on the Mayfield touchlines that the other Greg Wallace (the bald smug middle-aged, four times married geezer from BBC’s Master Chef)  could have run 35 yards to score , such was the ineffectiveness of the Dundee midfield defence.

Play continued in the Dundee half with the big Kirkcaldy pack totally dominating the Dundee scrum. This possession led to another penalty offence by Dundee which was nailed by Finlay Smith.

15-0 Kirkcaldy

It really was one way traffic at this stage. Kirkcaldy were in complete control , Dundee were struggling to get hold of the ball.

The Kirkcaldy support were loving it, as their team –  driven on by the dulcit Fife tones of their coach Kenny Fraser as he prowled the touchline –  displayed complete domination.

Conversely, the mood amongst the Dundee support was of extreme concern.

This concern grew to thrombosis levels , when following a forward drive , Kirkcaldy scored again . The score was converted to put Kirkcaldy 22-0 ahead.

Legendary Dundee bear and prop JJ Van Der Esch , on the touchline as a supporter, was heard to say that he recalled defeats by Kirkcaldy early in his 35 year career with Dundee , but never one as easy as this.

Could the day get worse for Dundee –  again, yes when young hooker Cammie Mathieson was forced off with a head injury to be replaced by Ceillim Stewart.

For the first time in the match, Dundee then enjoyed some possession with breaks by Baz and Neil at least taking the play into the Kirkcaldy half and the up to the 22. Possession was retained ,Ross moved it wide and Gus Farquhar scored in the corner. The conversion was missed.

22—5 Kirkcaldy.

Following the Kirkcaldy kick off, the Dundee pack secured possession and further strong running by Neil took the play back to the Kirkcaldy 22.

The Kirkcaldy hooker and talisman Greg Wallace then went off with an injury and was replaced

This gave Dundee encouragement and they battered away at the Kirkcaldy line but spirited defence kept them out. A penalty chance on half time was foregone in favour of a further drive to the line, a decision that looked questionable when the ball was knocked on and referee Clark blew for half time.

Half Time –  Dundee High Rugby 5 Kirkcaldy 22

Reflections

After a 30 minute horror show , Dundee improved in the closing 10 minutes and could have scored more than their solitary try . Head Coach Sangster would surely tell the players to start the second half the way that they finished the first half.

The second half started with Dundee attacking the glasshouse.

Dundee secured possession immediately and with a tactic that was to be repeated throughout the second half , the ball was fed to Neil and Angus Thomson to batter their way forward.

This took Dundee into the Kirkcaldy 22 and when the ball was moved wide, full back Kieran Scoular took a gap to get across the Kirkcaldy line. Kieran missed the conversion.

Dundee 12 Kirkcaldy 22

Dundee now had their tails up ,maintaining possession through several phases with the Kirkcaldy defence finding it hard to cope with the rampaging buffalo that is Neil Turnbull in full flow. Neil has returned to University after a summer break  a tad less svelte than in previous seasons , hitting the scales at 130kg. To put this in perspective , Jonny Gray is 119kg and Alun Wyn Jones is 118kg and following a spot of googling by your reporter , the only 6 Nations player around 130kg is Billy Vunipola………………..

Anyway , who cares , cos after another battering run by Neil and controlled half back play by Josh and Ross , space was created for Niall Hall to score between the posts. The conversion was missed.

Dundee 17 Kirkcaldy 22.

 

 

Confidence , so obviously lacking in the first half , was now oozing through the Dundee team and play continued to be concentrated in the Kirkcaldy 22 . The Mayfield support were loving this turnaround and the decibels from the stands were raised , as the  crowd got behind Dundee.

Dundee were in complete domination at this stage  – in itself a remarkable turnaround from the first half –  and play was now completely in the Kirkcaldy 22 , with the visitors conceding a number of penalties as the battled to keep Dundee at bay.

It was following another penalty that Josh took a quick one and scrambled over.  The conversion was missed

Dundee 22 Kirkcaldy 22 and Game On…………………………

This secured at least a bonus point , but the focus was now to complete  a remarkable turnaround and secure a victory.

However, for the first time in the half , Kirkcaldy secured possession for  number of phases,

Dundee seemed to have nullified the danger , but missed tackles out wide enable a ruck to be set up from which ex Crown Conor Wood dived over for a try. This was converted.

Dundee 22 Kirkcaldy 29.

This was one exciting game and the question was  –  did the Dundee team have the character to  come back from this blow , with less than 10 minutes to go.

The answer was –  you bet they did –  and adopting the simple advice given to them at half time by the coaches   – “keep the ball” –  play was soon back in the Kirkcaldy 22.  Brave defence kept Dundee out until the pressure paid when scrum half Josh (or to give him his proper title , Dr Rutnagur) burrowed over under the posts. Kieran converted.

Dundee 29 Kirkcaldy 29.

At the risk of being accused of being impartial , your reporter’s thoughts at this stage  – as the match entered the last 2 minutes – was that a draw would be a fair result.

However , this Dundee team may not be the biggest or the most experienced to represent the Crown over the years , but they were endearing themselves to the Mayfield crowd with their courage and character as they went for victory .

In the final minute , Ross broke and created a well timed pass sent centre Duncan McIntyre sprinting for the posts and Mayfield’s biggest roar of the season  greeted him putting the ball down for a try. Kieran converted from a fair bit out.

Dundee 36 Kirkcaldy 29 was the remarkable scoreline.

Dundee had a minute to hold on  –  which they did –  and referee Clark’s final whistle was the cue for celebration  on the pitch and high-fives in the stands.

 

FINAL SCORE – DUNDEE 36 KIRKCALDY 29

Reflections

Firstly , this was  a hugely exciting game of rugby and well done to both teams for providing a match which was a credit to Midlands Rugby. This was simply a great game of amateur rugby to watch.

Secondly , and while your reporter normally avoids clichés like the plague , this was the proverbial game of two halves. What a contrast in Dundee’s performance !!!

In the first half , to quote a well known Mayfield worthie  , Dundee were “bloody awful” ,but in the second half they displayed courage  , commitment , team spirit and no little skill.

Neil Turnbull deservedly got man of the match , but huge credit must go to the half back combination of Ross and Josh who were both magnificent in the second half.

President Tosh’s remarks as he skipped across the pitch to congratulate the team and the coaches were “Never in doubt”………..Really , Gerry ??

Coach Sangster was asked in the bar after the match what words of wisdom he had imparted to his troops at half time to instigate this remarkable turnaround. He said 3 words were sufficient –  “Keep the Ball”……………………

As a footnote , note must be made of the exemplary conduct of the Kirkcaldy coaches, team , committee and supporters after the match. Regardless of the shattering blow of losing the match late on , although naturally very disappointed , they were dignified and were a credit to themselves , their Club and Midlands Rugby.

As was pointed out by another Mayfield worthy , it is unlikely that some other teams in our league , particularly those from further South in the country , would have been quite so magnanimous in defeat…………

Finally  though , as the post match pints were hoovered back in satisfaction in the Mayfield Bar after the match , the results  from the other matches in the league provided sobering viewing – Gala beat Marr , Selkirk beat GHA , Musselburgh beat Jed and Aberdeen Grammar beat Hamilton.

As evidenced , this is a tough league where every team can beat each other.

However , it will now be with confidence that Dundee head off to Kelso next week.

Match Report – Dundee High 7-36 Jed-Forest – 13 October 2018

High welcomed second placed Jed-Forest to a very dreich Mayfield with 3 late call offs in the home pack. So, it was with some trepidation that this scribe took his place in the plush press box.

The pitch was in surprisingly good nick but the wet caused the playing area to narrow as long passes were not advisable. However, throughout the game both sides mixed their play and didn’t just rely on pick and goes.

Jed looked a big strong outfit with the Young twins adding the class that good sides need. They also had the legend that is Kevin Barrie [ex Club International coach] as forwards’ coach and his dulcet tones proved to be the soundtrack to the game.

So with Coco Whittaker and Dougie Gray strutting their stuff on the twos pitch the big game got underway.

The match started at a good lick but, as predicted, handling was difficult, and little cohesion was in evidence. Jed were showing better skill-sets even at this early stage and a prod-through almost resulted in the first try. The resulting scrum saw the visitors retain possession and score on the 4th phase: at 8 minutes 5-0.

The home scrum, with hooker Cammie Mathieson propping at loose was now coming under the pump and Jed capitalised on their lion’s share of possession to sweep down the pitch to seal another try; this time a one metre sprint over the line by their tight-head: at 16 minutes 12-0.

With set piece proving disappointing for the home side, Jed looked to up the ante. Another try for the Borderers, this time by full back Young [like his twin a Scotland 7’s cap]: at 24 minutes 17-0.

High continued to impress with their collective effort but didn’t look like unlocking the visitors’ D.

Then 2 great plays from Dundee 6, Ross Milne, saw High at last on the front foot and on Jed’s try line, despite not scoring, the next 5 minutes saw High’s best spell with the ball sticking, and total commitment from all 15 players.

Kevin Franco had to leave the field to be replaced by Murray Devine into hook, just after this a suspiciously forward looking ball led to another away score, converted this time: 24-0.

With half-time approaching Cammie at loose-head took a bad one in the scrum and his match was coming to an end. Jed finished the half with their tails up and another score: HT 29-0.

The second half saw Ewan Grewar, yes Pob, roll back the years and bring his mature bulk to the fray, but the rejigged scrum couldn’t prevent a push over, converted to make it 36 to nil.

I thought that a shellacking was a definite, but that was Jed’s last score…

Dundee’s injury problems led to uncontested scrums and centre Andy Hamilton moving into the back row with skipper Fraser Mckay coming on and into midfield.

Dundee’s fly half, Ross Aitken, then made a great break, but handling errors saw the move fizzle out. Then that man Young again broke from deep in his own half to threaten the Dundee line.

With an arrowhead support, a try seemed on, but he eschewed his back up and went alone, only for Keiran Scoular to put in a bobby-dazzler of a cover tackle to save the day.

The next 10 minutes saw play contained in mid pitch with both sides not really looking like scoring, until skipper McKay snuck an interception to run under the posts and convert to make it 36-7 after 36 second half minutes.

Play went on for the remainder of the half with nothing to write home about. Dundee had drawn the second half and that is credit to this young, injury-ravaged side’s “never say die” attitude.

Special mention again to Baz Barlow; what a shift the number 8 put in. Dundee can take some positives from their defensive efforts but our set piece continues to cause concern. Jed were good, but not great and the team’s second half lethargy will be addressed by Mr Barrie I don’t doubt.

Match Report – Dundee High 34-14 Selkirk – 6 October 2018

Glorious autumn sunshine, albeit with a chill in the air, greeted the lunch-clubbers as they arrived for their lunch and entertainment before the match against Selkirk. Guests included a table hosted by match sponsor MTC whose supremo Dave Rankine doubles up as medical support co-ordinator each Saturday at Mayfield – thanks for all that you do for the Club Dave – a table of well-known local worthies from Dundee Collegians Rugby Club and rugby royalty was represented in the form of a table of ex Dundee High Rugby club presidents.

Indeed, your reporter had the privilege of being at the ex-Presidents table, sitting next to legends such as Bruno, Roger Leslie, Harvie Findlay, Bob Gray, Ken Andrew and Bill Dryden. Tales of matches won and lost were recounted and of particular interest was Bill Dryden’s comment that he first played for the club in 1947. A mere 71 years ago.

However, it is worth noting that the next table to this table of experience (to put it politely) was a table of current members of both the Dundee University and Abertay University rugby teams. Each table – in fact all the Lunch Club guests – were entertained by President Tosh, as always in top form with his own brand of insulting humour – an illustration that Dundee High Rugby’s legendary Lunch Club does indeed cater for all ages.

A look at the Dundee team revealed only one change from the side that had secured a well deserved and hugely welcome win at Cartha Queens Park the previous week – playmaker and 10 Ross Aitken returned , with young Rory McGinn rewarded for a great display at 10 in Ross’s absence by moving to the wing with Paul Ritch dropping to the bench. Older brother Danny stayed at 9 in the continued absence of the injured Stuart Lathangie , while Lewis McNamara’s injury also keeping him out , with Stuart Barlow continuing at 8. Captain Fraser McKay was still injured, but hopeful of returning next week.

They faced a Selkirk team, sitting 4th in the table, having made an impressive start to the season with 4 wins and only one defeat in their opening 5 matches. As this contrasted sorely with Dundee’s 1 win and 4 defeats, the feeling amongst the Mayfield faithful was that this would be one stiff test for Colin Sangster’s young side.

It was 2 games for the price of one for the crowd as the bottom pitch at Mayfield saw Selkirk’s 2nd XV kick off against the orange-clad Dundee Titans , their ranks including club legends (although of a younger vintage that the Ex-Presidents table who by this time were on their 2nd bottle of port) , such as Neil Dymock , Andy Dymock , Dougie Gray and Davie Mason.

Dundee kicked off, playing towards the Glasshouse and almost immediately play was concentrated in the Selkirk half. The Selkirk defence held firm initially,but the pressure eventually told when Dundee took the lead after just 5 minutes.

A kick from Kieran Scoular found touch near the Selkirk line. Although Selkirk won the line out and cleared, Dundee ran the ball back and an inter-passing move, ended with centre Duncan McIntyre gone over near the posts. Keiran converted.

7-0 Dundee.

This was just the start that Dundee wanted and they continued to take the game to Selkirk. All the play was in the Selkirk half and Dundee spent a full 5 minutes camped on the Selkirk line, with only desperate defence and finally a good clearing kick from fly half Banks saving Selkirk.

However, slowly but surely, Selkirk forced their way back into the match and rather ominously for Dundee , Selkirk scored following their first real bit of pressure when flanker McColm found space to score near the Dundee posts. The try was converted.

Dundee 7 Selkirk 7

15 minutes gone and 1 converted try each.

The next 10 minutes were very even and the neutral supporter would have had difficulty ascertaining which team was 4th top and which was 3rd bottom of the division.

It was Dundee however who got the next score – Selkirk were on the attack when Kieran Scoular gathered the ball near the Dundee line and went on this mazy run which saw him beat man after man and took him to just outside the Selkirk 22. Danny McGinn was on his shoulder and a gathered pass would surely have seen Danny in for a try, but the ball went loose. Dundee however kept possession and following quick passing, Duncan McIntyre found space to go over for his second try of the match. The conversion was missed.

Dundee 12 Selkirk 7

There then followed a period where Dundee looked comfortable in possession, without looking like adding to their lead but things changed when Selkirk won a penalty around half way and a raking kick gave them a line out near to the Dundee line.

The line out was won and there was a feeling of inevitability when the big Selkirk pack rumbled towards the Dundee line and sure enough they rumbled over. The try was converted.

Dundee 12 Selkirk 14

The final minutes of the half were played out with the play deep in Dundee territory, but committed defence kept the borderers out.

Half Time – Dundee High Rugby 12 Selkirk 14

The chat amongst the Mayfield faithful at half time was that while Dundee were performing better than in their last 2 home matches, Selkirk were giving the impression that they could move up had a couple of gears.

Coach Sangster made a couple of changes at half time – Josh replaced Danny at 9 and Cammie Mathieson replaced fellow teenager Ceillem Stewart at hooker.

Following the restart, Dundee were on the offensive and play was concentrated in the Selkirk half.

Prop Scott Doig went on a rampaging break but desperate defence by Selkirk kept him out.

Dundee’s pressure was then rewarded when Kieran kicked a penalty in front of the posts.

Dundee 15 Selkirk 14.

Dundee kept up the pressure and play continued to be concentrated around the Selkirk 22 and Dundee went further ahead when following several forward drives with Cammie Mathieson and Neil Turnbull to the fore, Josh and Ross went blind and created space for Gus Farquhar who scored in the corner. The conversion was missed.

Dundee 20 Selkirk 14

There then followed a period of Selkirk pressure but determined Dundee defence throughout the team but with the back row of Baz, Gus and Niall Hall to the fore, denied the Selkirk team any space.

Sangster freshened the pack up with Andy Clarkson (he of the hugely talented father) replacing Angus Thomson and then Angus returning to replace Neil.

The chat amongst the Dundee support was that Dundee were looking strong in defence and the confidence level then improved when Ross and Duncan combined just over the half way line to set up a one on one for right winger Kieran D’eath against his opposite number.

As Kieran collected the pass, the entire Mayfield stand and support on the banks implored him (good word – check the definition) to “back yourself – take him on”. Kieran did indeed back himself , skinned his opposite man on the outside in the classic right winger way and , to a great roar , accelerated off to score between the posts. The other Kieran converted.

Dundee 27 Selkirk 14

This put Dundee in the driving seat and the determination of each of the players to keep hold of this lead was clear for all to see. Ross and Hammy continued to defend heroically and the forwards, encouraged by Josh at 9 , held firm against any Selkirk drives.

Ross and Hammy then showed the attacking side of their game by combining well to create space for Baz to take the ball on the run and crash through the Selkirk defence into the 22. When Baz was eventually held up, he found Niall Hall on his shoulder and Niall took the ball on to score between the posts. Kieran converted.

Dundee 34 Selkirk 14

Hammy then went off to a well-deserved ovation.

Although victory seemed secure, the spirit of the young Dundee side in the final 5 minutes was very telling – Selkirk had all the possession and the majority of the play was in the Dundee 22 , but the Dundee defence never buckled and the determination not to concede any more points was great to see.

No side came when the solid Dundee pack secured their own put in and Josh kicked out to cue celebrations on the Mayfield banks and touchline.

FINAL SCORE – DUNDEE 34 SELKIRK 14

Reflections

Firstly, this was a very enjoyable game of rugby with two committed teams. Credit also to young referee Graeme Ormiston the game flowing throughout – it is a credit to Graeme and indeed to both teams that only 13 penalties were awarded throughout the match.

From a Dundee perspective – naturally the most important perspective – this was a great result and a great performance.

For the second week in a row, Dundee’s young team have kept clean sheets in the second half. The spirit was there for all to see, defensive structures held firm and 5 tries against Selkirk is a significant achievement. Particular credit must go to the back row – man of the match Stuart Barlow, Gus Farquhar and Niall Hall – who tackled like furies all day.

The Titans had a comfortable victory over Selkirk’s 2nd XV , which added to the feel good factor which meant that it was a very happy clubhouse on Saturday evening.

You sometime get days when you think your stars are aligning – Saturday was such a day – an enjoyable lunch club , Mayfield in the sunshine looking like what it is – the best amateur rugby ground in Scotland to watch a match – victories for the Dundee 1st XV and the Titans – and a happy clubhouse. It was against that backdrop that your reporter left the clubby on Saturday and headed in the Dundee night thinking that to round off the Perfect Day, surely Jennifer Aniston would be in Mennies looking for a man……………

Match Report – Cartha Queens Park 18-27 Dundee High – 29 September 2018

There was a strong, diagonal wind, but at least it was dry and the re-drained Drumbreck pitch was in good shape as Cartha kicked off, with the wind and slope, towards the pavilion end and won early possession. The Dundee defence countered and, aided by 4 penalty offences by Cartha. When it was Dundee’s turn to give away a penalty, Cartha used the wind and found the Dundee 22 with the kick. Dundee were again penalised, this time in front of the posts, 25 metres out and Cartha stand-off Burrows had a straightforward opportunity for the goal. 10 minutes played and Cartha ahead 3 – 0.

Dundee were right back on the attack after the restart, pressing towards the home line and, after three further minutes, Stuart Barlow barged over the line for an unconverted try, edging Dundee ahead, 3-5.

Dundee were trying hard to raise the pace of their game after the score and managed some sustained spells of possession, built patiently. A good break by Harry Meadows took play into the Cartha red zone, where more Dundee pressure led to a yellow card shown to Cartha. As the Dundee pressure continued, Danny McGinn sneaked round the blind side of a ruck and over for a try, which was again unconverted. Dundee 3-10 ahead after 21 minutes, and looking in control.

Dundee continued on top after the restart and were soon back in the Cartha 22. When Cartha were penalised, Dundee took a short penalty and Neil Turnbull burst over the line, only to loose the ball in the act of scoring. It was still all Dundee, until a loose ball was pounced on by Cartha, enabling them to make ground into the Dundee 22. With the Dundee players seemingly bunched in the corner, Cartha fed to ball out to find three players queuing up, unopposed, to score. In the event, it was former Morgan man Juan Phyfer who took the honours. Burrows’ kick was a simple affair, pulling the scores level at 10 – 10 after 26 minutes.

Some carelessness appeared to be creeping into the Dundee play now, with lost possession too much a feature. Then a good move by Cartha from a scrum some 30 metres out, involving their stand-off looping round, led to another Cartha try, by full-back Docherty, too far out on the left for a successful conversion. 15 -10 with 33 minutes played.

As half-time approached, a huge clearance by Cartha took play to 5 metres from the Dundee line and, when Dundee were penalised, Burrows had a simple task in goaling the penalty, to stretch Cartha’s lead: 18 – 10 after 39 minutes, which is how it stayed until the half-time whistle.

Half-time: Cartha QP 18 Dundee HSFP 10

An encouraging start for yet another changed Dundee team, with a dominant 20 minute spell against the wind, midway through the half. If carelessness can be reduced and with the wind in their favour, the match could well be turned around.

Early Dundee pressure was thwarted by penalty offending and lost possession, but a chance arose when Cartha were penalised in front of the post, 5 metres out and Dundee chose the scrum option. Some frantic pressure resulted, until Danny McGinn slipped a pass through to Duncan McIntyre, who touched down out wide on the right. The kick was missed, but Dundee were in touch at 18-15, with 10 minutes of the half played.

Dundee kept on the pressure and, five minutes later, a strong burst by Andrew Hamilton, taking 2 Cartha players with him, brought a try under the posts, and Kieran Scoular added the extra 2 points, to out Dundee ahead, 18-22 after 55 minutes.

Cartha were reduced to 14 men, following a red card offence, but managed to retain possession for a prolonged period, thus preventing Dundee from maintaining momentum, and then a yellow card offence by Dundee evened up the numbers, albeit for minutes. Cartha continued to stretch the Dundee defence, which was holding out manfully, until Cartha knocked on over the line and Dundee were able to clear to half-way.

The resultant easing of pressure enabled Dundee to get back into the game as an attacking force and along break by Hammy ended with him scoring in the corner. The conversion was missed, but Dundee nerves were settled somewhat, with a score of 18 -27 and just two minutes of regulation time remaining.

Dundee’s defence remained resolute, however, and no-side was reached without further incident.

Full-time: Cartha QP 18 Dundee HSFP 27

The much-awaited first league win for Dundee was achieved without any great show, but with a great deal of determined hard work. For spells in the game, Dundee dominated and, but for a degree of carelessness, might have secured a more comfortable victory. With half a dozen or so strong players out injured or otherwise unavailable, prospects are encouraging that the 1st XV season could now be getting on track.

As an added bonus, Dundee comfortably won both the Man of the Match and Dick of the Day contests!

Dundee scorers:

Tries: Andrew Hamilton (2), Stuart Barlow, Danny McGinn, Duncan McIntyre
Conversion: Kieran Scoular

Dundee Man of the Match: Angus Farquhar

Match Report – Dundee High 27-40 Hamilton – 22 September 2018

Director of Rugby and Head Coach Colin Sangster’s programme notes described today’s fixture against Hamilton as “a very important match”. Perhaps not quite as dramatic copy as the Courier which described both Dundee and Dundee United’s matches v Hibs and Falkirk respectively as “Must Win” (particularly for the employment prospects of respective managers Neil McCann and Csaba “Victor” Laszlo), but after 3 defeats in the opening 3 matches and Dundee High Rugby occupying the unaccustomed – and indeed unwelcome – position of bottom of the league, there was no doubt amongst the Mayfield faithful that a home win would be a huge benefit.

However, a look at the Dundee team starting line out revealed the seemingly unending injury problems that Colin Sangster has had to contend with since moving south to Dundee showed no signs of abating – Scrum half Lathangie, centre Ward, hooker Campbell plus back row players Hughan and Milne all out. On the bright side, vice captain Lewis McNamara returned.

As the teams came out, it was noted that the Hamilton side looked a bigger unit and with more experienced players than the youthful Dundee side.

The match kicked off in beautiful September sunshine, albeit with a wind blowing down towards Dalgleish Road. Dundee were playing that way and started well, with play focused in Hamilton’s half from the start.

It was noted that the referee was a young man by the name of Ruaridh Campbell while the assistant referee was well known Mayfield ex referee Neil “Paddy” Paterson.

By way of another aside, your reporter was then engaged in conversation with the father of one of the match ball boys whose question to his dad was “Dad, do I have to stay for the full game ?” – to which the answer was “Yes son, that it what ball boys have to do………………”

Dundee’s bright start soon bore fruit, when after a super break by Ross Aitken from midfield, the ball was recycled twice and well timed passes from Ross and Fraser created the space for centre Duncan McIntyre to cross. Fraser added the conversion.

7-0 Dundee

Just the start that the Mayfield crowd was looking for, but the smiling faces did not last long. Slack tackling amongst the Dundee backs (unfortunately a pattern which was to continue) let the Hamilton full back in the corner for a try. The conversion was missed.

7-5 Dundee after 10 minutes

To Dundee’s credit they took the game to Hamilton from the restart and after a period of pressure, with Ross, Lewis and Gus Farquhar to the fore, Fraser nailed a penalty.

10-5 Dundee

Soon after, Dundee went further ahead with another penalty by Fraser.

13-5 Dundee

The coaching team must have been satisfied at this stage, but the Dundee achilles heel of conceding points immediately after scoring emerged again when the Hamilton scrum half – a gentleman by the name of Crush – scampered through a gap to score under the posts. The try was converted.

13-12 Dundee

The remainder of the half showed periods of pressure from both sides – indeed both teams produced passages of good play, but also error-strewn phases on both sides – but there was no further scoring before half time.

Half Time – Dundee 13 Hamilton 12

The chat amongst the Mayfield stand and touchlines at half time was that this game could go either way.

The hope was that Dundee would start the second half like they did the first half but this time keep the momentum going.

However this hope proved to be sadly misplaced as GHA went ahead virtually straight from the kick off when scrum half Crush – lets call him Bobby – scored beside the posts. The try was converted.

19-13 Hamilton.

This was exactly the start to the second half that Dundee did not want and things got worse 5 minutes later when Hamilton centre Jamieson burst past Dundee midfield tackles to send – once again – Bobby Crush in under the posts. Again the conversion was made.

Bobby Crush – think Opportunity Knocks (Hughie Green) – for those of you under 50, he was a 1970s pianist, often appearing on ITV variety shows.

26 – 13 Hamilton

If things looked bad for Dundee then they got positively catastrophic 5 minutes later, when following another break, Hamilton scored near the posts. Not sure who scored it – some guy in green, but it was not Bobby Crush. The try was again converted.

33 -13 Hamilton

At this stage, the Mayfield faithful were about as happy as Theresa May at the EU Summit in Salzburg – following what was a quite disastrous 15 minutes for the Dundee side.

However, fair play to the players, they went straight up the pitch and got themselves back in the game when following a period of pressure, flanker Gus Farquhar got a try back.

The try was converted by captain Fraser McKay (who kicked well all day).

33-20 Hamilton

Josh then replaced Danny McGinn at 9.

Dundee then had a period of good possession and a good inter-passing move resulted in Ross Aitken crashing over near the posts. Fraser again converted.

33-27 Hamilton

It was now game on and the spirit amongst the Dundee team was evident to see as they encouraged each other get back up the pitch and get the next score.

At this stage, Hamilton took Bobby Crush off, a move which heightened expectation on the terracing that maybe – just maybe – Dundee could pull this off.

However, Hamilton’s experience told as they slowed the match down and Dundee’s cause was not helped by a yellow card to Lewis.

Hamilton then grabbed the crucial next score when their big unit of a second row Josh White drove over following a line out near the Dundee line. The conversion was added.

40-27 Hamilton

You could sense a feeling both amongst the teams and the supporters that this was the clinching try, even though there were still 15 minutes left, and so it proved.

The last 15 minutes were played out with errors on both sides, Dundee never looking like closing the gap and Hamilton playing out the match relatively comfortably.

FINAL SCORE – DUNDEE HIGH RUGBY 27 HAMILTON 40

Reflections

Well, the “important match” did not bring the victory that the Dundee coaches, team and supporters craved.

The first 15 minutes of the second half were catastrophic and the tendency to concede tries immediately after scoring means that the team are not giving themselves a chance to build confidence.

This was frustrating as the team started really well. Indeed some passing moves – with Ross pulling the strings – prior to the first try, were first class, which showed that this team has the capability to play good and exciting rugby.

Vice Captain Lewis’s passionate and emotional team talk to the players on the pitch after the match shows how seriously the players are taking the current losing run and they are hurting.

As has been documented before, this team is young and inexperienced and this season was always going to be difficult as any team in the division would miss leaders such as Broonie, Leesey, Neil and Andy Dymock, Ally Mackie and George Arnott, as well as matchwinners like Ice and Neil Herron.

However, these players are no longer playing for Dundee High Rugby and nothing was ever achieved in sport, or indeed in life, by harking back.

The Club focus has now to be on all of us working together – Committee, helpers, supporters and indeed the entire Dundee rugby community – to support the coaching team and players as they strive to get things back on track, ideally starting at Cartha QP next week.

Match Report – Gala 39-12 Dundee High – 15 September 2018

A 3rd tough match in a row faced this young Dundee side, this time away against table topping Gala down at Netherdale. Dundee kicked off, and that was just about the last time they saw the ball for the first 10 minutes, as Gala retained possession and repeatedly drove to good effect both in close and out wide. 2 Dundee penalties could have relieved the pressure, but a missed touch and a turnover handed possession straight back to the men in maroon. Somehow however Dundee kept their line intact, and eventually moved play back up to halfway. A bad tempered scrum there (not for the first time) resulted in an nasty off the ball incident involving Dundee’s hooker Angus Campbell and Gala’s No. 6 Josh Irvine, which saw the former leaving the game injured and the latter being shown a straight red, leaving Gala down to 14 men for the rest of the game. For Dundee, Kevin Franco moved in to cover at hooker and Hammy (Andrew Hamilton) came on in the back row.

Worryingly, Gala hardly seemed to notice their reduced numbers, and the one way traffic continued as before. As Gala drove repeatedly at the Dundee line, Kevin Franco took a team yellow, and Dundee continued to cling on by their fingertips. Ross Aitken stole Gala ball, but a knock on led to a Gala scrum, uncontested with both Dundee hookers for the time being sidelined. A good tackle by newcomer Kieran D’Eath once more held Gala up, but their next backs move proved decisive as a run around (with some suspicious midfield blocking) let the Gala No. 15 jog across the line almost unopposed, with stand off Dean Keddie adding the extras. 7 – 0 Gala after 20 minutes.

Dundee responded with their best spell of the game, handling well and incisively, and a threatening kick ahead was taken over the try line by the Gala defence for a scrum 5 metres out for Dundee. Dundee continued to press, and eventually 2nd row Angus Thomson touched down, well converted by captain Fraser McKay. 25 minutes gone, 7 all.

Unfortunately, that was about as good as it got for Dundee. In a game with far too many penalties, a steady slew now went against Dundee, which sapped their energies and frustrated their attacking efforts. Worse was to come; with half time fast approaching, No. 8 Gavin Hughan and flanker Ross Milne were injured in the same passage of play, both going off not to return, and a disrupted Dundee defence could not stop the big Gala No. 4 Chris Weir barging over for an unconverted try, making the half time score Gala 12, Dundee 7.

Dundee had brought on Cammy Anderson and Kelvin Nelson to replace Hughan and Milne, making for a completely new back row in the 2nd half against a Gala pack who had absorbed the loss of their red-carded flanker all too easily. Just as at the start of the 1st half, Gala attacked strongly, and in the 47th minute Keddie slotted an easy penalty to increase their lead. Dundee responded, and a good break by Kieran Scoular let Hammy away, but with no-one quite on his shoulder, his delayed pop-up pass was intercepted by the alert Keddie, and moments later Gala’s No. 11 Aiden Turner was touching down at the other end, after some weak midfield Dundee defence. A possible Dundee score had been turned into a converted try at the other end, and with the score now 22 – 7 for Gala, Dundee’s hopes were fast evaporating, not helped by our ongoing lineout struggles.

The last replacements on Dundee’s bench, Josh Steadwood and Paul Ritch, got an outing as three all-too-easy and at times scrappy scores were run up in the last quarter against a now tiring and outclassed Dundee side, with 1 conversion making it 39 – 7 for 14 man Gala. A late consolation try for Dundee through Kieran D’Eath made the final score a slightly more respectable 39 – 12, but overall this was not a good Dundee display. Our first 3 games have been against the 3 teams who are now top of the table, and now some less difficult games should lie ahead – ones that we must take advantage of.