Dundee High Rugby 12-43 Highland – Match Report

Another much changed line up from last week ran out to face Highland at Mayfield for the first time in many years in today’s National One League match. It is strange to think that we are the closest opposition they play in the league. It shows their dedication in travelling huge distances every second Saturday, and will account for the smiles on the faces of what must be some very happy bus hire company owners up in Inverness.

Highland had us under the pump in the first encounter in Inverness. Could we do better today? Unfortunately, that question really resolved itself after just 10 minutes, when with the game still scoreless, No. 8 Kev Franco launched himself at a ducking Highland player. No malice, but the high tackle looked bad, and the referee decided on red; no real complaints there.  But the prospect of playing the next 70 minutes short handed was not appealing…

To give the boys their due, they really fronted up and took the game to Highland. Despite being shunted back at a rate of knots in most of the set scrums all afternoon, after the first couple we generally got our own ball, albeit often untidy. The line out was reasonable, and we competed well at the breakdown against a lot of big lads in the Highland pack. The backs looked sharp in possession, and defended well against a slightly disappointing Highland back division.

As the game resumed after the red card, Highland looked to have gone over under the posts, but the ball was held up. The resulting 5 metre scrum was moving slowly forward over our line when bafflingly their scrum half decided to pass the ball out, and the chance was lost. However, after 18 minutes their captain, big second row Stuart Butler, went over, with stand off Scott Fraser’s conversion making it 7 – 0.

Duncan McIntyre was showing up well on his return, a great covering tackle being followed by a fine break by him that led to Highland’s Nawacaleva being sin-binned for not retreating 10 metres at the break down penalty, levelling numbers up for 10 minutes. Flanker Sedge was hurt in the move, and replaced by Craig Henderson.

Just as it looked like Dundee might hold out till half-time, Highland got 2 tries in quick succession. The first was a good move off the back of the lineout, the second came from a surging midfield break by No. 8 Baird, who despite being hauled down by a fine covering tackle by No. 15 Kirk made it over the line.

Half time reflections 19 – 0 Highland at the interval, and with Baird-Chalmers off in the sinbin, Dundee would start the second half with 13 against 15 men. Dundee had showed good intensity despite being a man down, but could they do it for another 40 minutes?

On a day when all 4 second rows scored, Highland’ s No. 4, Sean Blair, was next to cross the line for Highland.  But Dundee countered straight away. Fraser McKay broke, Man of the Match scrum half Danny McGinn supported well, and as the ball came loose after a high tackle, Dundee 2nd row Angus Thomson gathered the loose ball and showed good pace to go over from 22 metres out. Highland 24, Dundee 5 after 50 minutes.

Dundee were moving the ball well now, but as often happens, Highland got an interception. They looked certain to score, but full back Stuart Kirk chased hard and somehow panicked the Highland player into trying to pass when he looked over the line, and the chance went abegging.

However, Dundee were now tiring and as Henry Lapsley came on for winger Gavin Ross, Craig Shearer for the injured Sam Cardosi and Addie Weir for Thomson, 3 more tries for Highland followed  in steady succession.  However, with the score 43 – 5, and time running out, Dundee scored again, with possibly the try of the afternoon. Good handling led to a break down in the Highland 22. Stand-off McKay received the ball from the ruck just before the Highland tackler, and a flip pass between his legs to Finlay Ormiston on the left touchline led to the 2nd row completing a try scoring full house for the 4 second rows, with Fraser’s conversion making the final score Dundee 12, Highland 43.

Full time reflections:  another hard day at the rugby office for Dundee, but we were not outclassed by a well drilled Highland side, and competed well for 70 minutes when a man short.

The Thorntons Dundee Man of the Match was scrum half Danny McGinn.

Dundee team 15 Stuart Kirk 14 Gav Ross 13 Duncan McIntyre 12 Rory McGinn 11 Cailean Baird-Chalmers 10  Fraser McKay 9  Danny McGinn 1 Josh Mark 2 Ceillem Stewart 3  James Shellard 4  Angus Thomson 5  Finlay Ormiston 6  Dillon Sedge 7  Sam Cardosi 8 Kevin Franco

Replacements 16 Addie Weir 17 Craig Henderson 18 Craig Shearer 19 Henry Lapslie 20 Chris Paton

Cartha Queens Park 26-27 Dundee High Rugby – Match Report

With the storms that continue to batter Britain having taken their toll on Cartha’s playing fields, this match was switched to a nearby 3G pitch at Lochinch, for our third game in a row on an artificial surface. And casting a shadow over the whole  game, for the 3rd match in a row, we suffered a serious injury, with the unfortunate Ruairidh Hood sustaining a bad leg break just on the stroke of half time. In addition, there were 2 more injuries yesterday where the players felt their studs had caught on the 3G surface. Are some of these artificial surfaces on which rugby is being played liable to cause more injuries than on grass…?

Cartha kicked off with the wind behind them and pushed hard for the opening score. Dundee kept their composure however, and played intelligent rugby, taking the ball back to Cartha in hand well against the wind. Hamilton, McKay, Macnamara and McGinn all made good yards amid a lot of decent interlinking play that was nice to watch.

And just after 10 minutes, although slightly against the run of play, we opened the scoring with a fine handling try. Hammy made the initial break and found Danny McGinn. From there the ball went out to winger Ruairidh Hood, who in turn gave it to Sam Cardosi to cross for a  quality score. Fraser couldn’t add the extra points, to leave it at 5 – 0 Dundee.

Our score was followed by some entertaining end to end play. Cartha’s big No. 4  looked dangerous, tapping and going from a quick penalty, only for Cartha to be penalised when he was hauled down. Dundee returned the quick penalty favour with interest, the alert Rory McGinn making 50 yards and with support from brother Danny and Ruairidh Hood once more, we earned a lineout close to Cartha’s line. Cartha never properly cleared their lines from there, and following an attacking Dundee kick, they suffered a Stuart Hogg/Jonny Sexton moment over their line, with Sam Cardosi pouncing on the bouncing loose ball for his 2nd try. 10 – 0 to Dundee with 20 minutes on the clock.

Dundee debutant Dillon Sedge was next to make his mark, the flanker gaining around 50 yards in a barging run that put us right back on the front foot again. Hammy followed up with another fine break, and we were once more camped on Cartha’s line. A penalty led to a series of pick and drives, ending with the alert Josh Mark scoring his first try for the club by touching down against the base of the post. The 2 extra points from Fraser put us 17 – 0 up after half an hour.

Cartha responded quickly, with a fine run from their winger Mitchell leading to a try in the corner. 17 – 5, with 5 minutes to go to half time. Dundee’s full back Ross did well defusing a couple of high bombs from Cartha in the swirling wind, with help from wingers Hood and Baird-Chalmers, and No 8 Macnamara tidied up well at the base of a couple of retreating scrums as half time approached. The untimely injury to winger Ruiaridh Hood led to the referee blowing for half time a couple of minutes early, and a lengthy half time ensued as the medics took good care of him.

Half time reflections It was hard to focus on the game, given the injury which ended the first half. Dundee had played well, and would have the wind behind them in the 2nd half.

When play eventually restarted, with Stuart Kirk on the wing in place of Hood, almost immediately a combination of the pitch and the prolonged break took their toll as the influential Macnamara pulled up with an injured hamstring, being replaced by Ceillem Stewart.  Despite all that had happened, Dundee had got their focus back and started well, and Fraser Black added our fourth try after 46 minutes, converted by McKay, to make it 24 – 5 to us.

It was just as well we had got that score, as suddenly Cartha came right back into the game, their influential centre Wayne Burrows pulling the strings and often making huge inroads into the Dundee defence. First, winger Mitchell went over, then almost straight away Burrows scored one of his own, with a 50 metre run from half way. Both tries were converted, and with over 20 minutes still to go, Cartha were right back in it at 24 – 19 down, but with a big head of steam up against a Dundee team being sorely depleted by injuries. Fraser Black was next to depart injured, being replaced by Craig Shearer, and prop Addie Weir came on for James Shellard.

To their credit, Dundee managed to weather the Cartha storm, and got a crucial penalty with 15 minutes to go, Fraser’s kick putting us a vital 2 scores ahead at 27 – 19. Cartha regathered their kick off, however, and a quick converted try made it 27 – 26 Dundee, with 10 long minutes left. Shellard came back on for Sedge, who had given his all in his first game, and Ryan Doherty for injured skipper Fraser McKay. Somehow the much changed Dundee team showed great commitment and no little defensive skill, with second rows Ormiston and Thomson both having been particularly prominent in the defensive chores throughout, to hold Cartha out until the final whistle went, for our first away win of the season.

Final score Cartha 26 Dundee 27

Full time reflections:  well done to all the guys for getting our first away win, in difficult circumstances. We played a lot of good rugby, did well to refocus after half time, and deserved to hold out at the end for a narrow win.

The Thorntons Dundee Man of the Match was Sam Cardosi.

Dundee team 15 Gav Ross 14 Cailean Baird-Chalmers 13 Rory McGinn 12 Andrew Hamilton 11 Ruairidh Hood 10  Fraser McKay 9  Danny McGinn 1 Josh Mark 2 Sam Cardosi 3  James Shellard 4  Angus Thomson 5  Finlay Ormiston 6  Dillon Sedge 7  Fraser Black 8 Lewis Macnamara

Replacements 16 Ceillem Stewart 17 Addie Weir 18 Craig Shearer 19 Stuart Kirk 20 Ryan Doherty

Dundee High Rugby 13-27 Stirling Wolves – Match Report

As predicted, Storm Dennis duly arrived at Mayfield around noon yesterday, soon making the playing surface look more like a paddy field than a rugby pitch. Luckily, we now have a state of the art 4G pitch at the new Regional Performance Centre at Caird Park to fall back on, and so for the first time we played a league match there. The playing facilities are fantastic, but the logistics and spectator experience less so, including the need for a 2 o’clock kick off. The lunch club attendees back down at Mayfield took this in their stride by simply foregoing watching the match, many delighted by not having to venture outside into the driving rain, but going forwards we will try to work round some of these spectating challenges!

It is a well known fact that men cannot multi-task, and as your reporter was also running the line yesterday, this report is of necessity a little sketchy! Stirling kicked off with the diagonal wind behind them, and camped in our 22 for the first 10 minutes. Our defence worked hard, but eventually the pressure told, and Stirling drove over for a try half way between the touchline and the posts. The kicking machine that is Stirling stand off Jonny Hope duly slotted the extra 2 points, to make it 7 – 0 to Stirling.

We responded well, and play see sawed for the next little while before some good handling gave flanker Finlay Ormiston, the Dundee Man of the Match, the ball some 30 yards out. A storming run through, round and over half a dozen Stirling defenders saw him aquaplaning over the Stirling line for a great try, the missed conversion leaving Stirling ahead by 7 – 5. Our scrum was generally holding its own, but our line out was under heavy pressure from Stirling in the difficult conditions, and a number of lost line out throws kept Stirling ahead of the game. A second converted try came for them around the 30 minute mark, and 2 further penalties from Hope meant we reached the interval with Stirling 20 points to 5 to the good.

Half time reflections Both sides had played some decent rugby in the conditions, the 4G pitch helping greatly compared to the mud bath it would have been on a grass pitch. Stirling’s bigger and more experienced forwards were edging the battle up front, but we would have the wind generally behind us in the second half.

We started the 2nd half well, and were taking play to Stirling more than we had done in the first 40 minutes. A good driving maul led to Ormiston getting his second try, again unconverted, but a further penalty from stand off Fraser McKay got us right back in touch at 20 – 13 down. Unfortunately, prop Jack Newth went down with a serious ankle injury, meaning the game had to go to uncontested scrums as we had already substituted our other prop, James Shellard, at half time.

A great handling move on the far side of the pitch, with No. 8 Lewis Macnamara, who was increasingly prominent, saw us come up just short of a 3rd try. But as so often happens, Stirling took advantage of that let-off, and went over for their third and final try, duly converted, to bring Stirling safely home as they managed the final minutes well.

Final score Dundee 13 Stirling 27

Full time reflections:  Good to get the game played. Stirling were the better side, but we competed well, worked hard and can hold our heads up. We’re not far away from being competitive in National One, and we’re learning all the time.

The Thorntons Dundee Man of the Match was Finlay Ormiston.

Dundee team 15 Gav Ross 14 Cailean Baird-Chalmers 13 Kieran Scoular 12 Andrew Hamilton 11 Stuart Kirk 10  Fraser McKay 9  Ruairidh Hood 1 Jack Newth  2 Sam Cardosi 3  James Shellard 4  Angus Thomson 5  Tam Lyndsey 6  Finlay Ormiston 7  Fraser Black 8 Lewis Macnamara

Replacements 16 Andrew Elton 17 Josh Mark 18 Iain Lockhart 19  Sean Gauld 20 Matt Clark

Dundee High Rugby 5-52 Biggar – Match Report

On a day when dreich did not adequately describe the conditions, two surprises were to the fore. Firstly, that the game went ahead at all – I have witnessed games being pulled with less surface water on show; and secondly that the teams lined up in very similar strips. When mud was added to the equation many spectators struggled to tell the teams apart.

What wasn`t a surprise was the result with Biggar showing that their standing in the league is no fluke.

An ex-High player lined up in the centre for the away team in the shape of Robbie Lavery and he and his fellow backs enjoyed a steady stream of ball delivered by their big well-drilled pack.

Biggar scored early doors with their man of the match number fourteen kicking ahead to gather and dive under the posts. This was followed by a blindside break, a line out take and driving maul leading to another converted try: two goals to nil.

Both teams were trying to pass the ball in attack, which, though commendable led to frequent errors, also the home side were conceding penalties aplenty and you feared a yellow card. Surprisingly it didn`t come and indeed not one was shown all game; amazing, as the count by the end was into the twenties, with a fair contribution coming from the visitors in the second half.

Biggar also had a stronger kicking game which provided much work for full back and skipper McKay who put in a workmanlike shift. Unfortunately much of his work and that of teammates took place in front of Biggar`s defence.

A penalty in the home red zone led to that driving maul again and the resultant score took us to nineteen nil after 20 mins.

As expected, the young home side did not bend the knee all afternoon and their tackling and commitment excelled. Then like a shaft of light on a very dark day Chad Ward intercepted and galloped in at the corner to record five points for the Crown.

But normal service quickly resumed with tight driving from the visitors and penalties from Dundee led to another Biggar score: 5-26 on the half hour mark.

The match then drifted to half time with huffs and puffs but no more scoring.

The second half started at a brisker pace than the embers of the first and Biggar looked to really push on. Sure enough a knock on from Dundee allowed Biggar`s scrum to barge forward allowing their 8 to pick go and link for open side Sanderson to add to the score: 5-33.

Biggar now camped in Dundee`s red zone and the constant defence was sucking the energy out of the home team. A reversed flip pass [in these conditions] saw away number eleven, cruise in: 5-40

Again the game became bogged down in midfield and kicking becoming more prevalent. Dundee did enjoy a spell towards the end of the match, when number 8 Gauld led a few charging runs deep into opposition territory, pride but no points resulted and Biggar, as in the first half, roused themselves and finished with two quick fire scores to end the contest 5-52 to the good.

The result, as stated earlier, was no surprise and neither was the never say die attitude of the homesters, you can`t but warm to these young lads who leave it all on the pitch. Keep supporting them please, they are worth the effort.

Dundee High Rugby 32 – 19 Ayr – Match Report

It was a day of doubles at Dundee! Dundee High Rugby doubled their season’s win tally so far with a solid victory over last season’s Scottish Premiership and Cup double winners, Ayr RFC. Meanwhile, up the road at Tannadice, Dundee United had put Ayr United to the sword, to send the honest men of Ayr back home truly empty handed!

On a day made for rugby, Dundee kicked off playing towards the Dalgleish Road end. The kick went out on the full, meaning a scrum back on halfway. From first phase scrum ball, Ayr’s No.7, Cameron Young, went over the Dundee line as two tackles were missed for an all too easy try. The conversion was squandered, but 5 – 0 to Ayr before Dundee had basically touched the ball was not a good start…

One thing about National One Rugby this season is it is entertaining to watch. Most teams are young, and enjoy trying to move the ball, in stark contrast to the attritional “bash-it-up” fare often on show in Super 6 and Premiership rugby. This game was no exception, with the returning Harry Mercer in the centre adding to the flair that runs right through our back division this season, and some of their moves today were a joy to watch. A Scoular penalty after 10 minutes had brought us back to 5 – 3, and on the stroke of 20 minutes, his pass to scrum half Danny McGinn let the No. 9 in under Ayr’s posts, with good hands by winger Cailean Chalmers having been key to keeping the move alive in the build-up. Scoular’s conversion put us 10 – 5 ahead.

Full back Callum Nicol was showing his class, with a quality take and break, which Ayr just managed to snuff out. Dundee kept the pressure on though, and another flowing handling move, including good linking by No. 1 Craig Henderson, gave Nicol space once more on Dundee’s left. A burst of pace and a couple of side-steps took him past most of the Ayr defence, letting him slip the ball inside to Cailean Chalmers, who went in under the posts. Scoular’s kick secured the extra 2 points. 17 – 5 to Dundee, with half an hour gone, which is how it stayed till half time.

Half time reflections An excellent first 40 minutes by Dundee. As well as a quality performance from the back division, this was also one of the best displays at the breakdown this season. It’s much easier to secure the ball going forwards rather than backwards! No. 8 Gauld, flanker Fraser Brown and hooker Kev Franco were all showing up well as Dundee were increasingly getting on the front foot in the forward battle.

If Dundee had conceded a soft try at the start of the first half, Ayr conceded an even softer one right at the start of the second. An innocuous looking long Dundee kick was well chased by Sean Gauld, and a horrible missed pass as Ayr tried to ship the ball left him with a simple pick up of the loose ball and a trot in unopposed under the posts, again converted by Scoular. 24 – 5 to Dundee.

Dundee had brought on new front rowers Glen Feighan and Tom Hall, but Feighan’s outing wasn’t to last long! Ayr had responded well to their early Christmas gift of a try, and their big winger Lanni, who was causing us problems all afternoon, cut back in against the grain to go over for a converted try after just another couple of minutes of play, reducing our lead to 12 points. Unfortunately, in the build up to the try, the referee had spotted Feighan making what could only be called a late hit on an Ayr player, earning him a yellow card! So as well as our lead being cut, we now had to face the next 10 minutes one man down.

Thankfully, we managed not to concede any more points during that spell. Indeed, we had one good chance, as winger Ruairidh Hood was put away with just one man to beat, but the Ayrshire full back kept his composure and managed to stop the move.

Hood was showing up more and more as the Dundee backs grew in confidence, and twice during the next few minutes he cut back in at pace from deep on great angles, the second time earning a penalty that Scoular put over to make it 27 – 12 Dundee after 70 minutes. Dundee now used their bench in full, with Chad Ward coming on for Chalmers, Craig Shearer, returning after injury, replacing the injured Angus Thomson, who again had got through a power of work, and Gavin Ross taking over from Scoular.

Man of the match Kev Franco led by example as Dundee stuck to their task, and another welcome Harry Mercer interception helped us turn defence into attack. From scrum ball, the McGinn double act at Nos. 9 and 10 once more got the line moving well as Dundee spun the ball left, Hood again provided the decisive break, and his pass to the looping Harry Mercer let him in at the corner for an excellent try. 32 – 12 for Dundee, with just 5 minutes of regulation time to go.

Ayr refused to lie down, however. Their No. 14 again made good ground, being hauled down by Nicol deep in our 22, and his pass was knocked on with the line seemingly at Ayr’s mercy. The try was only delayed however, as Ayr pressure let their No. 10 Morrison go over under the posts, to bring them back to just 32 – 19 down. Ayr fought hard following the restart for the try that would have brought them 2 bonus points, but Dundee held out over the last few minutes for a well-deserved 5 point win.

Final score Dundee 32 Ayr 19

Full time reflections Two home wins in a row for Dundee! And if we had managed to beat Boroughmuir away last week, which frustratingly we didn’t, we would have been off the foot of the table by now. Sport is full of ifs and buts…

Credit to the players and coaches, they have raised their game these last few weeks, and if we can keep this going after the Christmas break, who knows?

The Thorntons Dundee Man of the Match was Kev Franco

Dundee team 15 Callum Nicol 14 Rhuairidh Hood 13 Kieran Scoular 12 Harry Mercer 11 Cailean Chalmers 10 Rory McGinn 9 Danny McGinn 1 Craig Henderson 2 Kev Franco 3 James Shellard 4 Angus Thomson 5 Finlay Ormiston 6 Andrew Hamilton 7 Fraser Black 8 Sean Gauld

Replacements 16 Glen Feighan 17 Tom Hall 18 Craig Shearer 19 Chad Ward 20 Gavin Ross

Boroughmuir 17 – 7 Dundee High Rugby – Match Report

The winds of change may have swept through Britain on Thursday night following the election, but they didn’t blow half as strongly as the wind did at Boroughmuir on Saturday! Sweeping straight down the exposed 2nds pitch at Meggetland (the bedraggled looking main pitch being “saved” for Boroughmuir’s Super Six game there the following day), it was as they say “blowing a hoolie”, which dominated the game, a close encounter between 2 young teams.

Your “correspondent” having been pressed into touch judge service, this report will of necessity be refreshingly short! Dundee won the toss and elected to play against the wind in the first half. Our game plan wasn’t complicated. Take the ball up in the hands every time – any kick into the wind would probably end up going back over our own heads! And keep it simple – any long pass would turn into a lottery. After conceding an early 3 point penalty, we settled down well into this routine, until some uncharacteristically fragile tackling let Boroughmuir go over for a try after 15 minutes, the conversion putting them into a 10 – 0 lead. A good response soon saw us peg this back to 10 – 7 with a close range try from wing forward Fraser Black, Dundee’s man of the match, converted by No. 10 Paul Kerr on the 20 minute mark.

Good rugby kept our try line intact for the rest of the half. Frustratingly however, as half-time beckoned, we were unable to convert sustained pressure on the Boroughmuir line into another score of our own, which would have been a great boost for the 2nd half.

Half time reflections A wind dominated half. 2 kicks by Boroughmuir from just outside their own 22 went over the dead ball line at the other end! And somehow, the effect of the wind was to narrow the game, with from memory there being perhaps only 3 lineouts in the entire first half, as against a multiplicity of scrums for numerous knock ons. Turning to play with the wind, there was real hope of a Dundee win. Unfortunately, injuries had meant and the influential Gavin Hughan and Kieran D’Aeth had had to go off, being replaced by Lewis Macnamara and Cailean Chalmers respectively.

Dundee used the wind a bit better than Boroughmuir in the second half, with some good angled kicks to touch by stand off Kerr pinning them down in their own 22. But despite 3 spells of lengthy sustained pressure on the Muir line, somehow they withstood the sieges, with bouts of white line fever and a failure to occasionally try to ship the ball out when we had men over proved our downfall. And so the half remained scoreless until almost the very end – when Boroughmuir broke, and drove over from close range to make it 17 – 7 in their favour, with no time remaining for any Dundee comeback.

Final score Boroughmuir 17 Dundee 7

Full time reflections: Frustratingly, this was a game we could have won. We used the wind a bit better than Boroughmuir, and 4 times were camped on their line, without scoring. Credit to Boroughmuir’s defence, but we really should have put some points on the board. And as time slipped away in the 2nd half, we lost a bit of composure, and conceded too many pressure-relieving penalties. On the plus side, it was good to see the return of vice-captain Stewart Barlow as a 2nd half substitute after a lengthy injury lay-off.

The Thorntons Dundee Man of the Match was wing forward Fraser Black

Dundee team 15 Callum Nicol 14 Rhuairidh Hood 13 Duncan McIntyre 12 Rory McGinn 11 Kieran D’Aeth 10 Paul Kerr 9 Danny McGinn 1 Jack Newth 2 Sam Cardosi 3 James Shellard 4 Angus Thomson 5 Gavin Hughan 6 Sean Gauld 7 Fraser Black 8 Finlay Ormiston

Replacements 16 Addie Weir 17 Lewis Macnamara 18 Andrew Hamilton 19 Stuart Barlow 20 Cailean Chalmers

Dundee High Rugby 14 – 8 Watsonians – Match Report

At last! In what weatherwise must have been one of the most overcast days ever seen at Mayfield, with the electronic scoreboard glowing brightly in the gloom even as the game kicked off, Dundee finally lit the touchpaper on their season with a winning performance against one of Scottish rugby’s heavyweight clubs, Watsonians. So, at long last, we have broken our duck, and got the monkey off our back, with our first win of the season! With Dundee Morgan also triumphing 24 – 17 at Crieff, making it two weekend wins out of two for the boys, the players’ annual “Christmas skite” bus on the Saturday night, destination thankfully unknown, must have been bouncing – albeit perhaps not a place for the faint-hearted!

Watsonians kicked off towards the Dalgleish Road end, and as the game settled down, there were promising early signs in the set scrum as the Dundee 8 managed to drive or disrupt the Watsonians pack a couple of times. Both sides missed long range penalty attempts at goal as the game moved back and forwards between the 22s, but one sensed Watsonians were gradually gaining the upper hand. A Dundee midfield knock on, and a Watsonians kick through, led to increasing pressure in the Dundee 22. With a penalty advantage coming, Watsonians shipped the ball right towards a slight overlap out wide, and full back Kieran Scoular was left with no option by to try an ambitious intercept, his knock on resulting in a penalty and 10 minutes in the sin bin for him. Watsonians ran it, and their extra man advantage let them once more work an overlap on the right, for an unconverted try in the far corner. 5 – 0 to Watsonians, after 22 minutes.

It was more of the same after the restart, as Dundee looked to ride out the remainder of Scoular’s yellow card without further damage. Sam Cardosi (hooker this week, No. 8 last time out) and flanker Black showed up well with some good defending, as well as making a couple of useful breaks, and returning centre McIntyre was working hard in midfield defence, along with fellow centre Rory McGinn, to just about bottle up the eager Watsonians backs. Thankfully, we managed to see out the remainder of the 10 minutes unscathed.

Once restored to parity, Dundee started to attack more and more. One or two chances went abegging, as half time neared. At last, just before the break, Dundee broke right. Busy winger Callum Nicol (playing against his old team-mates from last season) cut back in hard from his wing, and as the remainder of the Watsonians defence were sucked back in towards him, he got away a lovely pass to the looping Cardosi out wide, who crossed for a well-deserved Dundee try, converted by stand off Kerr, putting us 7 – 5 ahead at the break.

Half time reflections: A promising last 15 minutes of the first half gave the Mayfield faithful some real hope for the second. For once, injuries had been minimal, and the only Dundee substitution of the whole match saw fit again Danny McGinn coming out at scrum half in place of Rhuiraidh Hood after the half time break.

Dundee started the second half encouragingly. Scrum half McGinn made a couple of early sniping runs, Kerr put in some good kicks, and it was Watsonians turn to defend. Unfortunately, we struggled a couple of times to get enough men out wide to turn pressure into points, and Watsonians gradually weathered the storm. And as so often happens, once back in Dundee’s half, they pressed hard and won a couple of quick penalties, the latter kicked between the posts for 3 points, pushing them ahead again 8 – 7, after 51 minutes.

Dundee’s heads did not go down. They were quick to recover a good kick off, and pressed in Watsonians 22. A 5 metre lineout drive was held up, but Watsonians could not break the shackles, and struggled to clear their line. Finally, after another series of one out drives, with big 2nd rower Gavin Hughan prominent, his fellow lock Angus Thomson drove over under the posts from short range. Kerr’s conversion in the fast fading light made it 14 – 8 to the home side, with 20 minutes to go.

This Dundee side now had a real purpose about them as they sensed a possible win. Watsonians’ kick off was returned with interest by a great Dundee clearing kick. Our intensity went up a notch in the loose, and as Watsonians responded hard, tempers frayed a little as time slipped away. A Dundee penalty was reversed, leading to a Watsonians attacking lineout inside our 22. Great Dundee defence held them out, with committed tackling leading to a Watsonians spill just as they were about to cross our line.

Two Scoular kicks in quick succession, the second into an empty Watsonians backfield, gave us the glimmer of an opening, but as was happening more and more, we were penalised in the ensuing ruck and back came Watsonians as the game continued its see-saw pattern. A couple of good Dundee turnovers pushed Watsonians back to their 10 metre line. A penalty went our way, and suddenly as we ran it on the Watsonians 22, a gap opened up in their defence, but frustratingly it was our turn to knock on when a try looked like it might be on.

Into injury time we went, and in what was now near total darkness, Watsonians were giving it their all to save the game. Another penalty in their favour led to a line out just 10 metres out, and the obligatory rolling maul followed. Watsonians piled 13 men into it, and Dundee responded with 11 or 12. Like a gigantic termite’s nest, the huge knot of struggling players inched their way towards the try line. And as so often happens, just as the line was reached, the maul suddenly collapsed. As the spectators held their breath, the referee awarded a scrum to Dundee – ball held up! More drama was yet to follow, as Dundee lost possession while trying to run down time, giving Watsonians another last chance. They were again unable to take it, and a final solid Dundee scrum (what a difference it makes!) saw the resulting possession kicked a mile into touch to secure the Dundee win.

Final score Dundee 14, Watsonians 8

Full time reflections: This was a good old fashioned game of rugby, between 2 well matched and youngish sides, eager to run the ball whenever possible, and with not too many big men on either side simply trying to bash the ball up the middle. There were mistakes aplenty, with a greasy ball and the wet weather leading to many a knock-on, but it was enjoyable rugby to watch in what was an always close encounter.

It was time we got a break, and our win was a deserved one, a tribute to the hard graft everybody has continued to put in even while things have not been going our way. We worked our socks off over the Christmas and New Year period last year to put in a great second half to the season. Can we do it again this year? Let’s hope so.

The Thorntons Dundee Man of the Match was Sam Cardosi

Dundee team 15 Kieran Scoular 14 Callum Nicol 13 Duncan McIntyre 12 Rory McGinn 11 Kieran D’Aeth 10 Paul Kerr 9 Rhuairidh Hood 1 Jack Newth 2 Sam Cardosi 3 James Shellard 4 Angus Thomson 5 6 Sean Gauld 7 Fraser Black 8 Finlay Ormiston

Replacements 16 Addie Weir 17 Davie Mason 18 Danny McGinn 19 Cailean Chalmers 20 Chad Ward

Kelso 26-10 Dundee High Rugby – Match Report

Our 11th league game of the season today at Kelso saw us reach the half way point in the league. And is has not been a good season for us so far. We’ve generally been competitive, and haven’t had any real cuffings, but our young, inexperienced and ever-changing side have just not been able to keep it going for the full 80 minutes. Could we do so against 3rd bottom Kelso today, under the lights at Poynder Park…?

Playing with the wind, Dundee’s opening kick off soared high up into the dreich grey sky, but unfortunately came down unerringly in the safe hands of Kelso’s No. 4, Paudie Lawlor, as did any number of Dundee restarts. And, as it happens, Lawlor is simply an absolute mountain of a man. He also has a simple kick off return strategy – head down, Route 1, and plough straight up the middle, where this time it took 3 Dundee men to haul him down! It looked like a long afternoon lay ahead…

Dundee’s Keiran Scoular put in a couple of good clearing kicks as Kelso tested the Dundee defence early on. We were keeping our composure and shape well enough, but eventually a series of good recycles by Kelso led to extra men for them out wide, and winger Mark Wilson went over for a try in the left hand corner, converted by their No.10, the assured Craig Dodds, to make it 7 – 0 for the home side with 9 minutes on the clock.

This time another good kick off thankfully evaded the Kelso No. 4, and Dundee managed to hold them in their own half. A knock on resulted in a strong Dundee scrum – the forwards put in a good shift in the set all afternoon, with especial credit to the front row – and the ball was shipped left. A poor pass to winger Cailean Chalmers looked to have brought the move to an end, but he did well to regather, and after a ruck a few yards out, Rhuairidh Hood, filling in at No. 9 today, darted round the side for an unconverted try. 7 – 5 after 13 minutes.

It was Kelso’s turn to produce a fine kick off and reclaim possession, but a clattering tackle from flanker Fraser Black snuffed out the danger. However, as before, getting away from our line was not proving easy, and eventually stand off Dodds had too much savvy for a stretched Dundee defence and went in under the posts, to make it 14 – 5 to Kelso just before the 20 minute mark.

Dundee’s kick off once more went like a magnet to Kelso’s No 4, who for a big lad also had good hands, but this time Dundee were able to keep Kelso pinned in their own half, and mount some decent attacks of their own. A 5 metre line out led to some good one-out drives, and eventually Andrew Hamilton, playing at No. 6, went over for another unconverted try. 14 – 10 to the home side.

There was to be no more scoring in the remaining 20 minutes of the first half, but not for the want of opportunities. After some brave covering by scrum half Hood from a Kelso kick through, and the unusual sight of the Dundee touch judge over-ruling the referee as to whose throw-in it was (ours!), Dundee worked their way back up the field. The decision was taken to scrum a penalty on the Kelso 22, bang in front of their posts, rather than take the 3 points, but it backfired as the ball was held in the scrum too long. Minutes later, Kelso repaid the scrum/penalty favour, likewise opting to scrum a penalty on our 22. A good tackle by winger Chalmers helped ensure they too got nothing from it, bringing the first half to a close.

Half time reflections: 2 tries each, and a goodish first 40 minutes against a team that had beaten Ayr last week. The strengthening wind in Kelso’s favour made them favourites, but perhaps with a little bit of luck…

The rain was sheeting down as Kelso restarted the second half, on a pitch getting increasingly heavy by the minute. And also you have to make your own luck! After a fairly even first 10 minutes, what was about to be an innocuous scrum around half way became a penalty to Kelso for, seemingly, some Dundee back chat. The kick to touch put us under pressure from the lineout, and our defence then strayed offside, giving the Kelso No. 10 a ‘kick to nothing’ opportunity. Unfortunately, it was one he took full advantage of! His precision cross-field kick bamboozled the back pedalling Dundee defence, and left Kelso winger Wilson clear on his own to fall on the ball over the line. 19 – 10 to Kelso.

The Dundee faithful were then treated to a rare sight this season, a 10 metre plus drive from a set scrum resulting in a Dundee penalty, but the chance fizzled out at the resulting lineout. Dundee’s difficulties were now starkly illustrated by 3 great wind assisted clearing kicks from Kelso over the heads of the Dundee defence, one in particular gaining 75 yards from Kelso’s own try line. Each time Dundee had try to work their way back through the Poynder Park glaur, increasingly becoming a bigger and bigger ask.

Yet another of these clearing kicks ended up with a Kelso lineout not far from our line, from which a surprise 10 man rolling maul caught us napping and let Kelso rumble over for a try by tight head Cunningham, well converted by Dodds. 26 – 10 Kelso, with around 20 minutes of the second half gone.

Surprisingly, however, like the first half there was to be no more scoring. Each time Dundee attacked, at the first opportunity they were pushed right back into their own half by some strong Kelso kicking, and they never really threatened to mount any sort of sustained pressure. But a final mention should go to the pack, who never stopped competing all afternoon. As full time loomed, a Kelso 5 metre scrum looked ominous, but the Dundee eight won the put in, the danger was cleared, and our line remained intact as the referee blew for no-side. Final score Kelso 26, Dundee 10.

Full time reflections: Kelso used the strengthening wind well in the second half. Their nous and calculated kicking game kept them just far enough ahead of us to mean they were never under any real scoreboard pressure. Let’s hope for a better second half to the season for us than the first!

The Thorntons Dundee Man of the Match was James Shellard.

Dundee team 15 Callum Nicol 14 Gavin Ross 14 13 Kieran Scoular 12 Chad Ward 11 Cailean Chalmers 10 Rory McGinn 9 Rhuairidh Hood 1 Jack Newth 2 Connor Crawford 3 James Shellard 4 Angus Thomson 5 Finlay Ormiston 6 Andrew Hamilton 7 Fraser Black 8 Sam Cardosi

Replacements 16 Calvin Nelson 17 Julian D’Aeth 18 Davie Mason 19 Finlay Jacobs 20 Ryan Doherty

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

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