Dundee High Rugby 10-36 Gala – Match Report

Dundee welcomed the famous maroon colours of Gala to Mayfield on what was otherwise a very gray autumnal day indeed at Mayfield. There was hardly a breath of wind in the air to trouble the players, but that also meant the pitch was still a bit greasy on top, making the ball a bit like the proverbial bar of soap at times. It felt almost like being in Japan, as one World Cup aficionado who had clearly overdosed on their recent surfeit of sofa rugby, remarked!

Colin Sangster, Dundee’s oppo to Eddie Jones, had once more been forced to shuffle his deck, with 9 changes from last week’s squad of 20. It was good to see Rhuairidh Hood returning to the wing after a few weeks out injured. Dundee kicked off, but Gala were quickly on the attack and winger Cooke slotted a straightforward penalty after 3 minutes to edge them ahead. Dundee surged right back, and from a fine midfield break by centre Rory McGinn the ball was slipped on to No. 8 Finlay Ormiston. With just the full back to beat, perhaps he should have backed himself, but instead his attempted pass to the Dundee support was batted down by the Gala defender, and the chance was gone.

And then Dundee’s usual injury woes started to kick in. Hooker Andrew Elton was forced off after less than 10 minutes, with Ceillem Stewart coming on in his place. Meantime, Gala were busy establishing squatting rights in Dundee’s half, as, for the next half hour, Dundee found it virtually impossible to get past the halfway line. The pressure first told after 12 minutes. A scrum 5 metres out was well held by the Dundee 8, so Gala ran the ball but turned it over, and the danger seemed have been cleared as Dundee punted to touch. However, Gala’s quick throw bamboozled the defence, and Cooke streaked over for a bit of a sucker try in the far corner, well converted by himself. 10 – 0 to the Maroons.

From the restart, Gala simply steamrollered their way back into attack, and only some good scramble defence, plus a couple of notable tackles by Hoffie and McGinn, kept the maroon tide at bay. Three times Gala were held up when over the try line, and each time Dundee somehow held out from the resulting 5 metre scrum. The third time, a scrum penalty awarded to Dundee was gratefully accepted with both hands, and the pressure was momentarily relieved.

But only momentarily…for eventually the Dundee resistance crumbled, as first winger Johnston got on the scoresheet with a try after half an hour, followed by another 3 minutes later from centre Nicholson, from a midfield break. Both were converted by Cooke, pushing Gala out to a 24 point lead.

As the half drew to a close, however, Dundee at last got on the front foot, and some sustained attacking in the Gala 22 saw the ball well recycled a number of times, until eventually space opened up on the right for winger Hood to finish off a good spell of play in the corner, well converted by No. 10 Paul Kerr.

Half time reflections: Dundee’s try at the end of the first half had given them a glimmer of hope, with the scoreline now standing at 24 – 7, but with Gala’s bigger pack dominating the line out and giving us problems in the set scrum, it was hard to see a way back.

As the second half started, Dundee’s replacement hooker Stewart also had to leave the pitch injured, and on came No. 18 Sam Cardosi as our 3rd hooker of the match! The first 20 minutes of the 2nd half were something of a no scoring stalemate. One promising Dundee attack broke down on Gala’s 22 and their kick ahead from there put Dundee in all sorts of bother as No. 10 Kerr scrambled to tidy up in his own 22, but he was forced to hold on on the deck as the Dundee support were slow in arriving. Gala went for the corner from the penalty, and Dundee did well to hold out from the resulting 5 metre lineout.

Sean Gauld came on for 2nd row Iain Lockhart, and Andrew Hamilton for Callum Hoffie, either side of a Dundee penalty after 20 minutes, kicked by Kerr, which brought them back to 24 – 10 down. Sam Cardosi then showed good footballing skills to trap a Gala kick ahead, following which Kerr’s clearing kick and chase put us back in the Gala 22. But gradually Gala’s power was wearing Dundee down, and as play moved back towards Dundee’s line, a 25 metre rolling maul sucked in all the Dundee defence, letting winger Johnston cross comfortably for Gala’s bonus point try, and making it 29 – 10 with 15 minutes left.

Flanker Tim Brown now limped off, and Dundee’s last replacement Addie Weir came on. Now Addie is an out and out prop! To accommodate him at tight head, James Shellard moved across to loosehead prop, with Jack Newth moving to hooker and Sam Cardosi to the back row, meaning Dundee now had their 4th different player at hooker during the game, but still with contested scrums! That can’t happen often.

Frustration was now creeping in on both sides. Gala’s No.5, John Crown got shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Rhuairidh Hood. Then some tetchy pushing and shoving between the teams, following a knock on by full back Gavin Ross, as Gala winger Fergus Johnston milked the error, led to Ross also being yellow carded, although Johnston looked equally culpable. As the game petered out, Gala got a closing try, with No. 17 Chambers crossing and Cooke converting, to make the final score Dundee 10, Gala 36.

Full time reflections: the final scoreline was probably just about right, unfortunately. 2 tough away trips to Kelso and Heriot’s Blues lie ahead in the next 2 weeks – it doesn’t get any easier! The Thorntons Dundee Man of the Match was No. 8 Finlay Ormiston.

Dundee team 15 Gavin Ross 14 Rhuairidh Hood 13 Callum Hoffie 12 Rory McGinn 11 Cailean Baird-Chalmers 10 Paul Kerr 9 Finlay Jacobs 1 Jack Newth 2 Andy Elton 3 James Shellard 4 Angus Thomson 5 Iain Lockhart 6 Fraser Black 7 Tim Brown 8 Finlay Ormiston

Replacements 16 Ceillem Stewart 17 Addi Weir 18 Sam Cardosi 19 Andrew Hamilton 20 Sean Gauld

Highland 66-17 Dundee High Rugby – Match Report

A first visit to Highland RFC in many a long year (a quarter of a century?) and a chance to see their spanking new clubhouse and state of the art 3G pitch, funded courtesy of the local council. And a great set up it is too, with a very friendly welcome (off the pitch!) from our hosts. Very appropriate too, for, believe it or not, this is their local derby – every other league match for them is further away than Dundee! (Next week, for example, they have the 200 mile, 5 hour trip to Melrose to look forward to…!)

Highland’s programme notes recorded that so far this season they have ‘already’ used 37 players in their 1st XV. We have so far fielded a staggering 51, and in today’s much changed team, with 10 of last week’s squad unavailable, there were yet another 5 new faces. Our appreciation goes to both Ross Sutherland RFC and Falkirk RFC , who each lent us a front row player to let the game go ahead, and there were season’s debuts for our own Charlie Wilson, Cailean Baird-Chalmers and Max Morrison as well.

Highland are a club on the up, and sit in 2nd place in the National 1 table, tucked in behind the other newly promoted club, Biggar. Very often, clubs promoted to National 1 have struggled with the step up in quality, but not in this topsy turvy season in the brave new world created by the Super6 league and all its knock on ramifications.

But we had I fear better get to the match itself… Our makeshift team were up against class opposition, on what was a very fast paced (and often good to watch) game on their 3G pitch. In the first half, we simply could not compete, and were 38 – 3 down by half time, with only a Paul Kerr penalty on the board for our efforts. The boys had all stuck in, but we were inevitably at times in that first half playing like 15 individuals against a well-drilled, cohesive side.

However, coaches Colin Sangster, well known and well respected in this part of the world, and Ian Robertson worked a minor miracle during the break, because for the next 35 minutes, Dundee were winning the 2nd half. After leaking an early try, suddenly it all gelled, and 2 Dundee tries (about which more in a minute!) meant we were ‘leading’ 14 – 7 in the 2nd half with 5 minutes to go. Frustratingly, 3 Highland tries in those last 5 minutes, a couple a touch fortuitous, against a tiring Dundee side who had given their all, meant the final score ended up as 66 to 17 – but it might have been much closer.

Our joint men of the match were flanker Tim Brown up front, who competed tirelessly all game and put in some great hits, as well as linking well, and full-back Callum Nicol, who made some fine breaks, and contributed a couple of thumping tackles as well as the last line in defence. And both our 2nd half tries were terrific efforts. The first was scored by No. 5 Finlay Ormiston, new to the club this year and so far a near ever present in the side, who has a great engine and a lot of potential, linking well with Tim Brown to finish off a classy handling move under the posts, converted by Paul Kerr. But this was just for starters, for the try of the match came a few minutes later when Ormiston again broke from his own 22, and combined well with Paul Kerr who carried on the move. He in turn found Sean Gauld at his side on Highland’s 22, after a lung bursting effort to get up in support. There was no way he was going to be stopped from there, and he duly made the try line, with Kerr adding the 2 extra points.

It’s wrong to single out individuals, as all the guys did what they could, but perhaps a special mention could go to today James Shellard, an 18 year old prop who has played in every game this season, and who kept going manfully in the 2nd half to help our set scrum get back to near parity after its first half woes against a powerful Highland eight. Credit also to evergreen Davie Mason, who played for 45 minutes as sub – would we all had his commitment to the cause! And credit in fact to all the boys, who went through the wringer a bit, but kept competing and playing rugby right to the end.

Dundee team
15 Callum Nicol 14 Gavin Ross 13 Andrew Hamilton 12 Rory McGinn 11 Cailean Baird-Chalmers 10 Paul Kerr 9 Stuart Kirk 1 Aonghas Maciver 2 Charles Wilson 3 James Shellard 4 Angus Thomson 5 Finlay Ormiston 6 Fraser Black 7 Tim Brown 8 Sean Gauld

Replacements
16 Davie Mason 17 Mitchell McSpadden 18 Craig Shearer 19 Max Morrison 20 Ryan Doherty

Stirling Wolves 38-17 Dundee High Rugby – Match Report

Despite the torrential rain in the previous 48 hours (which saw the Titans/Morgan bounce game being called off at a waterlogged Glenrothes), the notoriously wet Bridgehaugh pitch was in remarkably good condition. All due to the tide being out, apparently – who knew that Stirling was tidal?

Dundee elected to play into the sun on a lovely still autumn afternoon. (Meanwhile, across on the 2nds pitch, Stirling’s Super 6 side were playing Watsonians in a pre season friendly – good to see our former players George Arnott and Murphy Walker featuring for them, and an injured Ali Mackie on water bottle duty!) Unfortunately, Dundee’s overcooked kick-off let Stirling onto the offensive immediately, and in an opening onslaught, they firstly butchered a 6 man overlap, then were held up over the line, before a penalty “kick pass” to the unmarked Stirling right wing let him stroll over to make it 5 – 0 Stirling after just 3 minutes.

Dundee were struggling to contain the bigger Stirling side, and after 10 minutes a simple pop pass on the 22 let the Stirling hooker canter over under the posts for a 12 – 0 scoreline.

Things looked worrying for Dundee, but suddenly they switched on and for the next 30 minutes gave their best display of the season so far. Their revival was ignited by a terrific try from full back Callum Nicol. Taking a Stirling kick on his own 22, he chipped ahead over the first line of defence, gathered, took a tackle and popped back up again to regather, and then finally shook off the cover defence to cross for a great score in the far corner. 12 – 5 to Stirling, game back on.

Danny McGinn, filling in at stand off for Paul Kerr, was starting to show up well, with a good break and kick ahead that was just snuffed out by a suddenly stretched Stirling defence. An unfortunate knock on from Hammy as the line beckoned gave them another reprieve. A powerful tackle by the Thorntons Man of the Match hooker Connor Crawford then stopped Stirling in their tracks, and a bullocking run by 2nd row Angus Thomson put Dundee right back on the front foot. And they duly cashed in as a midfield break by No. 8 Finlay Ormiston went through the hands to Callum Nicol, who once more went over in the far corner to put Dundee within 2 points of Stirling at 12 – 10 after 30 minutes. Unfortunately, that was Nicol’s last contribution, as he came off with a knock to be replaced by Ryan Doherty.

A Dundee penalty for a high tackle by Stirling after the restart kept them on the front foot. Centre Hoffie made a good break into Stirling territory, but a turnover by Stirling (one of a number) brought a promising move to an end. It was still Dundee on the attack, however, and from a retreating scrum Ormiston did well to get the ball away, Danny McGinn kept the ball alive, and Hammy broke and fed the supporting scrum half Finlay Jacobs to let him go over under the posts, Hammy’s conversion making it 17 – 12 to Dundee at half time.

Half time Reflections – Dundee had turned the game around, but would Stirling’s big ball carrying forwards start to wear a spirited Dundee defence down in the second half?

Dundee started the 2nd half with Andy Elton on for Tim Brown at flanker. Stirling began more strongly, and Dundee were forced more and more onto the defensive, but a number of Stirling penalties kept easing the pressure. The first 20 minutes of the 2nd half were scoreless, but gradually Stirling were getting on top. Angus Thomson was now replaced by Craig Shearer as Dundee started to tire. A Stirling attack was held up over the Dundee line, but their try was only delayed by a couple of minutes. On the hour mark a Stirling 5 metre lineout led to rugby’s problem child, a rolling maul, which duly let the big Stirling pack grind over and take the lead back by 2 points, 19 – 17. Hammy came off, and Taylor Smith came on at flanker, with Sean Gauld moving to midfield.

Another great Connor Crawford tackle slowed a Stirling attack, but their experienced No. 15 fielded Dundee’s clearing kick, stepped the uprushing Dundee defence, and linked well with his centre to let Stirling in for another try. 24 – 17 after 67 minutes, and the writing was now on the wall for Dundee. The bench was emptied as their last replacement Paul Slade came on, but two more Stirling tries followed as Dundee ran out of steam, to make the final scoreline a slightly flattering 38 – 17 for Stirling.

Full time reflections This young Dundee team showed good spirit and played some great rugby at times, sticking manfully to their task as a quality and bigger Stirling side asked many questions of them. The lineout was good, the scrum won its own ball, they never stopped competing at the breakdowns, although turning over too much ball, and the backs looked incisive at times with ball in hand. Hopefully, their first win is just round the corner.

Dundee team – 15 Callum Nicol 14 Stuart Kirk 13 Callum Hoffie 12 Andrew Hamilton 11 Gavin Ross 10 Danny McGinn 9 Finlay Jacobs 1 Jack Newth 2 Connor Crawford 3 James Shellard 4 Angus Thomson 5 Iain Lockhart 6 Sean Gauld 7 Tim Brown 8 Finlay Ormiston
Replacements – 16 Andy Elton 17 Taylor Smith 18 Craig Shearer 19 Paul Slade 20 Ryan Doherty

Dundee High Rugby 15-29 Melrose – Match Report

It was a game, that on paper, promised little for the home side, and your scribe had much trepidation in his heart pre KO, but that was not how events unfolded A cobbled together team [20 call offs midweek] gave the coaching team and spectators a thrilling, if pointless, afternoon.

What a wonderful Autumn day: sunshine, full lunch club, fumes from the previous night’s gin tasting percolating and a host of ex-players festooning the side lines.

To the fore, and up from Melrose, ex-flanker, Jimmy Hutchison, brother in law of JJ Van Der Esch, so no humour there: also present Bruce McClaren and David Ogilvie. On the downside we also had the dubious honour of hosting David (Bawheed) Reid and Brucy Welch.

Dundee’s gegenpress and strong game plan meant this game was always competitive and hugely watchable – so to the game.

Dundee kicked off with the wind from the West, and the game was contested in midfield for the first 5 minutes. Then Melrose forced 3 scrums with the third one giving front foot ball to the visitors and they moved it wide for wing Mallin to score + conversion: 0-7 after 9 mins. Dundee came roaring back with scrum half Jacobs and full back Nicol to the fore; a penalty won and kicked: 3-7.

Melrose then increased the forward pressure and started throwing the resultant quick ball, about. Two great defensive hits by centre Callum Hoffie could not prevent a penalty, duly converted by the Borderers to take it to 3-10.

On the next play Dundee’s tenacity saw Paul Kerr released to race towards the oppos line, only to be halted 15 yards short by an illegal tackle from opposite number Crawford, earning him the first of a litany of yellows given out throughout the afternoon. Kerr had to leave the arena after much, on-pitch work by the medics; replaced by Chris Paton.

Then when Dundee looked for inroads off the resultant penalty, a wayward pass and interception saw the impressive away scrum half, Crawford run 90yards
to score. Conversion took us to 3-14.

Dundee were competing strongly at the breakdown and their pressure saw the ball in number 8 Sean Gauld’s hands and from there over the line: touchdown 8-14. [Gauld went on to get Dundee’s man of the match award]

The ever-eager Dundee 9 Jacobs broke from the next play and some over zealous Melrose defence saw number 4 Brown sent to the Bin.

The score stayed the same till half time but that was not the full story.

Melrose suffered an injury to number 2 and had their 3 yellow-carded. Davy Mason [at 49 and Dundee’s youth policy] put in several try saving tackles [his words not mine]. And Dundee kicked for position! A ploy new to them.

Half time: 8-14.

The second half did not, in fairness, live up to the first, but the endeavour was there for all to see.

Dundee started well with young Gauld to the fore resulting in a penalty under the away posts: eschewed? The resultant tap and go saw a knock on: chance wasted.
Scrums were briefly uncontested but when parity was resumed Melrose used scrum possession to control ball and attack and score from their 22: 8-19.

The game then entered a doldrumic period with the highlight being a great break from that man Gauld, ultimately unsuccessful; but appreciated by Melrose number 14: great to see.

Melrose suffered 4 yellows in this match, Dundee 2, and it could have been more with Melrose committing further high tackles and a neck roll. But in no way was this a dirty game- just one at high pace with errors inevitable.

Then something happened which blew my mind: 2nd row Shearer scored for Dundee. Shearer AKA Strettle, a winger from yesteryear. It’s a funny old game: 15-19.

Two late unconverted tries saw Melrose home and hosed 15-29.

This was a great afternoon’s entertainment, enjoyed by all, with some pleasing performances from home players. No one should doubt the commitment of this young team – D Mason aside – and with more control: who knows?

Footnote: ex-player and all round good guy Kevin McLeod attended the game as he was in Dundee following his beloved father’s recent demise. I know he found the afternoon a great distraction and I speak for us all offering our condolences and best wishes at this difficult time.

Biggar 50-7 Dundee High Rugby – Match Report

Not a bad day to play at Hartree Mill as the rain stayed off and the wind not really effecting the game that much.

A Yorkshire referee in the middle one of 3 in Scotland this weekend on an exchange deal between the 2 Unions. Good idea and great for the development of referees. However the ref pulled up injured at about 17 mins into the 2nd half and the coaches agreed they would allow the ref to limp on for another 3 mins so the result would stand.

Then for some strange reason there was confusion trying to get a colts ref to turn around his car and come back to Biggar.

About 20 mins later no ref and players losing focus and interest another huddle involving ref assessor and SRU ref chief Tappie Henning with coaches who 20 mins previously had agreed the way to proceed, and the game was abandoned and the result will stand.

So, a good question. What are the rules around the unusual event of a ref not able to continue? If this had happened in the preceding years then an assistant ref would take over. In this year however the SRU have taken the decision to withdraw the ar’s thus devaluing the NAT 1 tournament.

Result was never in doubt, so it was a pity the Thorntons Man of the Match Donald Sangster was injured for his efforts. Good to see now SRU employee and ex Dundee stalwart Robbie Rooster Lavery again playing for Biggar. Good lad Robbie. Some good performances though a quiet bus home.

Ayr 45 – 18 Dundee High Rugby – Match Report (kind of…)

Match report not available (in normal format) as normal contributors were doing non rugby things inexplicably during the season. 😎 But I have a few observations…

This group of young men are as committed to the Club as has ever been the case. They tried their best and tried very hard and for that we are very grateful. Thank you all!

They are also coached very well headed up by the only level 4 coach north of Edinburgh and a team of coaches as good as we have ever had at the Club. At the final whistle they were gutted as were the coaching team and Dundee supporters. They gave their all as some of the injuries will attest. This season is different with the introduction of the amateur Super 6 teams and no one really knows or knew how this will pan out. The volunteers who run our Club need more support not sniping from the sidelines. I nearly said touch lines but that would be wrong! We don’t need people paying lip service to a one club structure but acting differently. How long can the same people be expected to continue? One committee volunteer member said candidly, “not long!”

So what happens next? This Club is run extremely well and we have many recent initiatives that are successful. We have a vision for the Club that will be implemented. BUT we need more people to come on board and contribute. What we don’t need are armchair critics who do nothing. Our volunteers do an amazing job donating thousands of hours to running the whole Club.

Please get in touch and volunteer whether you have 2 hours a week or more to donate there is a position for you. The match report concludes with this thought. We approach our 140th anniversary as a Rugby Club. To ensure we have a longer future we need more volunteers including people to take on senior positions within the committee. Its easy……get in touch. Ayr beat us on the park on Sat but they are also beating us off the park as well. Discussion anyone?

Dundee High Rugby 20 – 38 Boroughmuir – Match Report

Mayfield was in splendid nick on Saturday afternoon, the sun was out, the playing surface immaculate and a manageable breeze blowing down the ground towards the city.

The pre match lunch boasted an ex- president and ex-captain’s table with such worthies as Bob Gray, Gordon Low and Ally Nicol. Ally’s dad and ex-president Dave couldn’t join the gang as he was on duty at the gate, what service.

Also putting in an appearance: well freeloading at the school table, was a high school full back from a previous age, Robbie Arthur. Robbie looked to be in better shape than when he played but his chat was just as bad.

The good weather had brought out a number of spectators, many in summer outfits but the winner in the style stakes was Derek Gore for his splendid butterfly shirt.

And so to the game, Dundee were playing with the wind first half but got off to a dreadful start with the away team attacking from the off to score under the posts. The try goaled 0-7

The Dundee team looked busy in the backs but inexperienced and lightweight upfront which certainly dictated how the home side performed. Throughout the game High struggled to gain parity with the Muir pack but ran any possession they had.

This led to a game that was disjointed and peppered with errors, BUT very entertaining.

So back to the game, despite being under the pump in the tight, Dundee broke from scrum half with Danny McGinn surging forward before kicking ahead. The kick is only as good as the chase and this was a belter with Tim Brown harassing the away side into conceding a pen, duly converted by Paul Kerr 3-7.

Boroughmuir came roaring back with their man of the match and hooker Dylan Powell to the fore. Pressure from a line-out saw the away side slide left and score 3-14.

Now Muir upped the ante with greater intensity and structure, Dundee countered with fearless defence, with a special mention for full back Callum Nicol.

With the increasing pressure came a penalty for Muir, converted by their 10 Robin Werrsma 3-17.

Dundee continued to press with whatever ball they got and multiphase play in Muir’s red zone led to a defensive infringement and another 3 points for the home side 6-17.
Dundee finished the half running from deep with great ambition but poor accuracy. 6-17

The second half started as the first had finished with Dundee determined to play sevens and Muir powerful, structured and patient.

And so came another Muir score as a move from deep by Dundee foundered and Dundee went further behind despite a suspicion of off-side, 6-24.

I have seen Dundee teams drop their collective heads at this point, but not this young side. Displaying great heart they pushed deep into Muir territory to win a pen in front of goal. So what did the playbook tell them to do? Kick to the corner of course. They won it and after 3 phases scored beside the posts, touched down by Finlay Jacobs, extra 2 from Kerr 13-24

Substitute prop Graeme Craig went off injured leading to uncontested scrums, which favoured the home side. From their next possession Dundee surged from half way with lock Angus Thomson going under the sticks, duly converted 20-24.

Muir came straight back and scored off a scrum, was there a hint of forward passing? But with no assistants to help him the ref called it as he saw it, converted 20-31.

Boroughmuir finished the scoring late in the game to make the final tally 20-38

All in all a great afternoon’s entertainment but enthusiasm and guts are not enough. Points come from possession, structure and accuracy. Let’s hope this young Dundee team can harness these strengths and start to bag some points, their heart deserves them.

Watsonians 39-16 Dundee High Rugby – Match Report

Our first away game today, against another Super 6 franchise, this time Watsonians, saw us rolling up to Myreside, Edinburgh. One of the biggest pitches in Scottish rugby, some renovations were underway at both ends of the ground – whether in readiness for Super 6, or a hangover from Edinburgh Warriors’ recent occupation, being unclear.

What was clear, however, was that it was yet again a makeshift Dundee team, patched together as injuries and unavailability once more took a heavy toll on a club which is looking threadbare in numbers up front, especially in the front row. Both starting props from last week’s starting XV were out injured, as was the hooker, meaning debuts for props Scott Teister and Stuart Cameron (the latter off the bench), and a return for veteran Davie Mason as replacement hooker. The backs had a more familiar look, with exciting prospect Callum Hoffie making his first start on the wing in place of Callum Nicol, and Hammy taking over at centre from Sean Gauld.

Team 15 – Kieran Scoular, 14 – Callum Hoffie, 13 – Duncan McIntyre, 12 – Andrew Hamilton, 11 – Ruaridh Hood 10 – Paul Kerr, 9 – Danny McGinn

1 – James Shellard, 2 – Andy Elton, 3 – Scott Teister, 4 – Cameron Fraser, 5 – Finlay Ormiston, 6 – Stuart Barlow (capt.), 7 – Fraser Black, 8 – Lewis McNamara

Replacements 16 – Davie Mason, 17 – Stuart Cameron, 18 – Angus Thomson, 19 – Rory McGinn, 20 – Finlay Jacobs

Dundee won the toss, and elected to play with the wind blowing strongly down Myreside. A long range penalty from stand off Paul Kerr, wind-assisted, after 4 minutes edged us in front, but not for long. Following the restart, our set scrum creaked under pressure, and the large specimen that is Watsonians 2nd row Kieran Watt broke through the Dundee midfield and looked set to score before being felled inches out by a strong covering tackle from Dundee’s No. 15, Kieran Scoular. Alas, this just delayed the inevitable, as after a couple of recycles, scrum half Willie Thomson popped over for an unconverted try to make it 5 – 3 to the home side.

Frustratingly, Dundee’s No. 4, Cameron Fraser, making his debut, had been injured in the lead up to the score and limped off to be replaced by Angus Thomson, a near ever present last season but making his first 1st XV appearance of this season.

It got worse. After 15 minutes, an accidental high tackle on hooker Andy Elton resulted in a twisted neck, and a few minutes later he had to leave the fray to be replaced by Davie Mason. In the interim, a second Kerr penalty had let Dundee get their noses in front once more, 6 – 5.

Dundee were now having their best spell of the game. A Kerr chip ahead, taken on at pace, engineered a half overlap out wide, but a knock on put an end to the move. A lineout steal moments later led to a Lewis Macnamara break, and a flip to Kerr, whose pass to supporting scrum half Danny McGinn was kicked through and flopped on over the line by the No. 9  for Dundee’s opening try. Kerr duly converted and it was 13 – 5 to Dundee after 25 minutes.

Unfortunately, moments later Dundee’s injury jinx hit yet again. After winger Ruaridh Hood had bravely snuffed out a wickedly bouncing Watsonians kick ahead deep in his own 22,  captain Stuart Barlow took a knock and had to leave the field, with replacement prop Stuart Cameron coming on to make his debut. As Dundee struggled to regroup and reorganise, Watsonians camped on their line, and Dundee’s valiant defence finally leaked an unconverted touch down, making it 10 – 13 after 33 minutes.

Watsonians were soon back on Dundee’s 22 metre line, but for once Dundee used the wind well as Kieran Scoular’s clearing kick took play from our 22 to theirs. A Dundee scrum penalty on the stroke of half time followed, after a good ruck clear out by No. 1 James Shellard, letting Dundee’s Man of the Match Kerr slot his 3rd penalty, to make it Watsonians 10, Dundee 16 at the break.

Half time reflections: Injury hit Dundee are down to the bare bones up front, and with the bigger Watsonians pack having the wind in their sails for the next 40 minutes, the feeling was Dundee would do well to hold out.

And so it proved. It  seemed Watsonians were over the try line right from the off, but somehow they were held up by some mongrel Dundee defence. The resulting scrum 5 metres out was the trigger for  a series of ‘penalty’ scrums for Watsonians there, as Dundee’s makeshift pack struggled to hold them, during which time referee McIntosh eventually yellow carded Dundee No.1 Shellard as Watsonians kept on trying, but failing, to secure the pushover (or penalty!) try. Finally, Dundee were somehow awarded a penalty of their own as yet another scrum wheeled, and gratefully cleared their lines. Frustratingly, a squint throw at the resulting lineout let Watsonians fire up their scrum once again, but this time they more sensibly moved the ball along the line and centre Ferguson broke through the short handed Dundee defence for an unconverted try. Dundee were still 1 point up at 16 – 15 ahead, but looking distinctly groggy, with half an hour still to go.

Watsonians duly scored once more against Dundee’s 14 men (I made it 13 minutes our prop was off for, one of the problems of not having neutral touch judges) and the conversion made it 22 – 16 in their favour. Next it was Fraser Black’s turn to limp off injured, with Hammy moving to the back row and Rory McGinn coming on in the centre.  And to complete the wholesale changes, replacement Angus Thomson also had to depart, forcing Stuart Barlow back on, with Danny McGinn also being replaced by Finlay Jacobs.

Barlow’s return did not last long. The attempt to free his foot from a clinging Watsonians’ arm being deemed overly violent by the referee, his ensuing yellow card meant he had another 10 minutes to spend on the sidelines.

The wheels were now coming off an inevitably disorganised Dundee side as the mounting injuries, combined with 2 yellow cards, and the difficult windy conditions, took their expected toll. Watsonians went over for 3 more tries in the last 10 minutes as the depleted Dundee team finally cracked. Fittingly, there was then only time for 1 last Dundee player, Ruaridh Hood, to leave the field injured, before the final whistle then blew. Final score Watsonians 39 Dundee 16.

Reflections So, by this correspondent’s count, 6 Dundee players left the pitch injured, plus there were 2 yellow cards. For a makeshift team low on confidence, it became too much for them to cope with in the last quarter. But, trying to look on the bright side, it’s worth noting that we were still within 6 points of Watsonians with only 10 minutes to go, despite all these problems. Nevertheless, some plain speaking at the end by the coaches needed saying, and let’s see how well the guys can respond and pick themselves up for a tough game next week against another Super 6 club side, Boroughmuir.

Dundee High Rugby 24-47 Heriots Blues – Match Report

The narrow defeat against Ayr in the Cup the previous week gave Dundee confidence going into the first Tennent’s National One League match of the season against Heriots Blues.

Who?

Heriots Blues.

Who are Heriots Blues?

Surely you mean Heriots – who Dundee have played many times over the years. Play at Goldenacre in Edinburgh. Rugby club been around for years.

No, Heriots Blues ………

What are you on about?

OK, I will try to explain…………………

As stated in President Tosh’s programme notes, this season heralds the start of the semi-professional Super 6 competition. The new league structure sees Super 6 clubs (yes, only 6 of them playing each other……) with a Premiership below that and then National 1 the league in which Dundee play.

OK – who are the Super 6 clubs?

In alphabetical order – Ayr, Boroughmuir, Heriots, Melrose, Stirling and Watsonians.

That seems strange – there are 3 teams from Edinburgh, none from Glasgow and the furthest North is Stirling – surely that can’t be right?

Well it is.

So if Heriots are in the Super 6 and Dundee are in National 1, why are we playing them?

We are not – we are playing Heriots Blues.

WTF?

It has been decreed from on high that the reserve/amateur clubs of the Super 6 clubs will play in National One. Heriots Blues are the amateur/reserve side of Heriots Super 6 team who are called Heriots Rugby.

Get it?

Well, nae really but I will keep trying.

I know what you are thinking – surely this is unfair as Heriots could fill the Heriots Blues team with Heriots Rugby players – and that would mean that the amateur Dundee team were playing against professional players and that would hardly be equitable.

Perish the thought – Heriots Rugby and Heriots Blues are 2 separate entities and never the twain shall meet .

Anyway, we will see when we look at the Heriots team.

I have looked at the programme and the Heriots team is not listed …………………….

Ah – this was due to an administrative oversight – the Heriots team was received after the deadline for printing the Dundee programme.

Your reporter then looked on the Heriots Rugby Club website – which appears to cater for both Heriots Rugby and Heriots Blues – only to find out that the Heriots Blues team was actually called Heriots Blues Mens team…………….

At this point it was becoming too confusing for your reporter who had already been to the Lunch Club and I decided just to concentrate on the match.

As the teams came out in glorious Autumn sunshine it was noted that there were in fact 2 teams, one SRU referee (Craig Clark, well known referee at Mayfield and a good guy) and no SRU assistant referees.

What’s going on?

A quick reference back to President Tosh’s notes in the programme provided the answer- under the new structure , SRU assistant referees would only be provided for Super 6 , Premiership and the Womens Premiership.

This means that no assistant referees in National 1, so each club provides touch judges.

Not assistant referees – touch judges only.

This meant that the Mayfield faithful had to endure the sight of Ken Andrew’s legs as the venerable Ken was the Dundee touch judge.

The match kicked off and Heriots – (no, Heriots Blues………………….) – OK let’s call them the Blues – were on the attack from the start as they attacked the Dalgleish Road end.

Dundee seemed to have survived the initial onslaught when they were awarded a penalty.

However, they failed to find touch and the Blues ran the ball back with no 14 going in under the post. Graham Wilson a wellknown Heriots player for many years added the conversion

7-0 Blues.

Dundee were penalised for being offside from the kickoff and the Blues took advantage by going up the pitch and camping themselves in the Dundee 22. With phase after phase, they attacked the Dundee defence and the pressure was rewarded when their No 3 (a massive bloke) battered his way across. The conversion was added

14-0 Blues.

When the Blues added a further score – not sure who it was as in an admission of shoddy journalism, I glanced across at the Titans match, to make the score 19-0 (conversion missed) , the concern could be seen on the faces of the Dundee support.

Not only were the Blues a big side (both props in particular were huge) , but they had 95% possession and were relentlessly threatening the Dundee defence.

Even when Dundee got possession and centre Paul Kerr was nearly through for a score, a knock on gave possession back to the Blues who scored another converted try.

The score after 22 minutes was 26-0 to the Blues and the Dundee support were not enjoying their day in the sun, although the Titans were doing their best to improve the mood around Mayfield by running in the tries against Lasswade.

At this stage, the young Dundee team were struggling to cope with the Blues but the effort and defence could not be faulted. One tackle in particular by winger Calum Nicol (the latest member of the Nicol dynasty to grace the Mayfield pitch – son of ex captain Ally, grandson of legend Dave and nephew of media darling Andy) stopped a certain try.

However the relentless pressure continued and the Blues scored again before half time- again converted by Wilson .

Half Time – Dundee 0 Blues 33

Coach Sangster rang the changes at half time bringing on 5 players and making a couple of positional changes, including putting Paul Kerr at 10, with replacement Duncan McIntyre on as centre outside him.

Unfortunately, this did not have an immediate benefit as the Blues scored the first try of the second half when their Number 13 accelerated around Kieran 30 metres out and make the line. The score was converted to make the score 40-0.

The Blues scored another try soon after with their 15 going over -again converted – so it was 47-0 and Dundee staring down the barrel of 50+.

At this stage, the reshuffled Dundee team began to gel , with good breaks by Lewis and Paul and for the first time in the match began to retain possession.

The Blues however still had the upper hand in the set piece and following another scrum, Taylor was forced off injured. This led to uncontested scrums.

With the match already won, the Blues took the opportunity to ring the changes and give each player on their bench a run out.

Dundee were now enjoying much more possession and for the first time in the match exerting pressure on the Blues and this was rewarded, when following a Kerr break, Duncan McIntyre scored to get Dundee on the scoresheet. Paul converted.

47-7 Blues.

Dundee then scored a second try when after a break by Lewis, space was created for winger Ruaridh Hood again converted by Paul to make the score 47-14.

The Blues had taken their foot off the gas at this stage and Dundee further capitalised through another score by Duncan McIntyre, again converted by Paul Kerr to take the score to 47-19.

The Blues then brought some of their big guns back on to regain control, but Dundee had the last score when Ruaridh Hood collected a good kick by Kieran to score an unconverted try with the last play.

Final Score – Dundee 24 Heriots Blues 47

Reflections

Great credit to the young Dundee team for fighting back from a hopeless position at half time to not only win the second half , but also gain some pride , as well as showing the Mayfield crowd what they are capable of.

Obviously , the uncontested scrums in the second half favoured Dundee whose pack was getting a mauling from the Blues 8 , but the 4 tries allowed Dundee to get a bonus point.

In the first half in particular , the Blues were a class act and this may give an indication of the quality of opposition Dundee may face in the National 1 league this year due to the inclusion of the reserve/amateur sides of the Super 6 teams.

It should be noted that the Titans gave a great performance to beat Lasswade 95-0.

Dundee High Rugby 17-18 Ayr – Match Report

A new season, and new Cup competition with a preliminary round, a new Ayr team, being the “Club” XV of a Super 6 club and a new-look Dundee side, all added to a degree of uncertainty in advance of this Mayfield encounter, which began with a strong, rain-bearing wind blowing down the pitch from the pavilion end.

Led by Vice-captain Stuart Barlow, due to the absence of injured Captain Fraser McKay, Dundee kicked off against the elements, were soon penalised and, when Ayr kicked to the corner and began an assault in the home 22, there were fears among the home support. Three penalty offences by Ayr, however, allowed Dundee to clear to the Ayr half and, when a kick by Ayr from their 10 metre line was taken by the wind over the Dundee dead ball line, Dundee were offered further respite.

Although there were early indications that the home scrum was under pressure, they were holding their own in open play and a good break by Lewis McNamara enabled Dundee to retain the initiative until Ayr were penalised about 30 metres out and debutante Paul Kerr slotted the goal to give Dundee the lead: 3-0 after 15 minutes.

Ayr broke through from the re-start, reaching 10 metres from the Dundee line and, when Dundee were penalised, Ayr opted for the scrum and a potential push-over try. Dundee were penalised again and a second scrum selected by Ayr. This time, however, the ball was moved out, but the attack foundered, Dundee stole the ball and cleared. From the resulting line-out, Ayr moved the ball at pace and stand-off Pinkerton darted over for an unconverted try. 20 minutes played and 3-5.

Dundee mounted a series of attacks after the kick-off, but lacked a vital cutting edge against a strong Ayr defence. When Ayr were penalised on their 22, however, Paul Kerr was able to kick a second goal to return the lead to the home side: 6-5 with 30 minutes on the clock.

Ayr were immediately on the attack after the re-start and full-back McCorkindale broke through an attempted tackle to score out wide on the left. The conversion attempt was again unsuccessful, but Ayr were back in front after 32 minutes, 6-10.

When Ayr were penalised after the kick-off, Dundee were presented with another penalty goal opportunity, but 40 metres into the strong wind looked like a tough challenge for Paul Kerr. To the delight of the home support, however, the kick sailed between the uprights and Dundee remained in touch, 9-10 after 35 minutes.

Ayr were again on the attack, but knocked-on in the Dundee 22. Under pressure in the scrum, Dundee were penalised and again Ayr elected for a scrum, but lost possession and Dundee fly-hacked the ball to safety into the Ayr half. Play flowed back and forth with no further scoring opportunities until the whistle blew for half-time.

Half-time: Dundee 9 Ayr 10

In spite of having to play against the strong wind, Dundee were holding their own and the evidence thus far indicated that fears about Super 6 club sides proving dominant may be unfounded. The rain had ceased, the sun had appeared and there was hope that, with the wind at their backs, Dundee could well get the better of the second half. Apart from the scrum area, there appeared little between the sides.

Dundee began on the offensive and a penalty offence by Ayr allowed Dundee to kick to the Ayr 22, but a knock-on by Dundee enabled Ayr to clear. A good break by another Dundee debutante, Finlay Ormiston, ended with lost possession, but Ayr were penalised at the scrum and Paul Kerr was able to land his fourth penalty goal and restore Dundee’s lead, at 12-10 after 6 minutes of the half.

Further Dundee attacks followed, to be ended by a penalty offence. An up and under clearance from Dundee’s defence was missed by Ayr and the ball bounced into the hands of Callum Nicol, also making his first appearance for the Club and he raced 50 metres before being caught just short of the Ayr line.

Ayr survived and were able to return to the attack, where they exploited some leaks in the home defence to mount an offensive which ended with another unconverted try. Now it was Ayr ahead again, 15 -12 after 55 minutes.

Ayr were penalised after the re-start and Paul Kerr lined up a shot at goal out wide on the right and some 8 metres inside the Ayr half. Given his results into the wind, there was hope that the distance would not prove too great with wind assistance, but the kick fell just short.

For the next 10 minutes or so, play flowed to and fro until a great handling move by Dundee, with the ball moving in and out, ended with a fine try by Connor Lane, yet another player wearing a Dundee shirt for the first time. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful, but the lead was again Dundee’s: 17-15 with 64 minutes played.

There was hope now in home hearts, although in spite of wind-assisted clearances by Dundee, Ayr were mounting attacks, eventually reaching 10 metres from the Dundee line. Although the ball was lost, Dundee were penalised, leaving Pinkerton the simple task of goaling the penalty and the lead was back in Ayr’s favour, 17-18, with 5 minutes of regulation time remaining.

Ayr broke through after the resumption and Dundee were under a lot of pressure, eventually relieved by an Ayr knock-on and then a penalty offence, which allowed Dundee to find touch for a last-chance line out opportunity on the Dundee 10 metre line. A sustained effort by Dundee gave hope, only to end with a forward pass which brought the whistle for no-side.

Full-time: Dundee HSFP 17 Ayr 18

From a Dundee perspective, there were many positives from a squad continuing seven debutantes. Although some scrum improvement will be sought, a cohesive team effort and the narrowest of losses against a Super 6 club side gives grounds for optimism that, with more experience of playing together, a strengthening of the scrum and a tightening of defence, Dundee need have little to fear once the league programme begins next week.

Dundee scorers:
Try: Connor Lane
Penalties: (4) Paul Kerr

Dundee Player of the Match:
Gavin Hughan