Dundee Titans v Hawick Force, Mayfield , 10th March 2018
Would the weather in Dundee get better after the week of the “Beast from the East”?
Well, maybe but it was still a brutal Saturday lunchtime when the Titans kicked off against Hawick Force at 12.15pm. Horizontal wind and rain and a sodden Mayfield pitch.
So, fair play to the team that from Hawick that had pitched up in numbers in Dundee after a 3 hour bus journey with a full bench and an full back up team on a day when surely the tempting option would have been to stay in your scratcher , have a long lie , get up at lunchtime for a couple of beers , then sit in the clubhouse bar to watch Ireland v Scotland and then France v England in the 6 Nations…….
Bill McLaren, Hawick’s most famous resident, would have been proud of them.
One of Bill’s famous phrases was “a day out of Hawick is a day wasted”.
An alternative view from your reporter – who prefers the bright lights of the city to the peacefulness of the Borders – would be “ a day in Hawick is a day wasted”….but I will let the readers may up their own minds.
The Dundee Titans fielded what looked like a strong team – Hughan and Franco brothers to the fore. For the Hughans ,it was a family affair – Jamie was at 9 , Gav was at 8 and mum and dad and the dog were in the stand .The Kray brothers – sorry the Francos – were in the , back row , with Titans stalwarts Andy Clarkson and Struan Gartley in the second row. In the backs, to the huge disappointment of the crowd, Hamish Livingstone was not in the centre , with Ronan Joy taking his place and Rory McGinn at 10. The front row of Lewis McLean, Ceillem and Scott Doig looked tasty. Youth was represented in the form of young Aengus McCrimmon (no I have not mis-spelt the name – his mother is Irish), a member of the Dundee High School 1st XV, taking his place on the wing.
I have not got a scooby what the Hawick Force team was as there was no programme, but they played in green.
The match kicked off in the pissing rain.
Your reporter apologises for the seemingly industrial language, but this is considered necessary to give the reader the impression that, yes , it was not pleasant weather as we shivered in the Mayfield stand.
The initial phases of the match were a forwards battle , with the ball not seeing life beyond either teams tens.
In the first ten minutes, there were around 8 scrums – none of which were conclusive – and this set the tone for the afternoon.
The referee was strict as to his view as to scrum etiquette – both 9s were penalised for seemingly squint put ins – and running rugby was understandably at a minimum.
Hawick took the lead after 15 minutes when their 10 – who looked a tidy player- nailed a close-range penalty after another scrum infringement. 3-0 Hawick.
In the next 10 minutes, the ball got its first airing, primarily through Hawick hands.
It was noticed amongst the inhabitants of the Mayfield stand that the Hawick left winger bore a remarkable resemblance to Hen Broon.
For younger readers who do not know who Hen Broon is,ask your Dad and Mum with the clue being Sunday Post/Broons , but the one time Hen got in full flow , Ronan covered across and absolutely flattened him.
Dundee Titans were taking a time to get into their stride, but eventually Sean Gauld in the centre had a couple of breaks that gained territory, but on a couple of occasions the final pass let the Titans down.
Hawick then forced play into the Dundee half and a good break by their number 8 created space for their right winger to head for the corner.
As noted above, the Hawick left winger was a dead ringer for Hen Broon, but the right winger was a different shape, more akin to Daphne Broon.
Anyway , Daphne scampered off for the corner , eluded the Dundee defence and scored in the corner. The conversion was missed. 8-0 Hawick.
The forwards battle then recommenced , with the Titans now coming more into the game , with Gavin Hughan to the fore.
The last 10 minutes of the half were spent predominantly in the Hawick 22 but the Titans found themselves up against a determined defence and when chances were created , the final pass did not go to hand and opportunities lost – a situation which would be unfortunately mirrored against a team in green at the Aviva stadium in a couple of hours time…..
Half time came with the Titans unable to penetrate the Hawick defence.
Half Time – Dundee Titans 0 Hawick Force 8.
Coaching supremo Clinton rang the changes at half time. Jamie came off and Ceillem showed his versatility by moving from hooker to 9. Niall came on at hooker.
Dr Thomas Harding – he with several degrees as well as being a doctor and basically all round clever bloke – also came on to exponentially increase the overall IQ level on the pitch , with Ronan going off and Clarkson moving to set up a twinkle-toes centre combination with Sean.
The second half immediately followed the same pattern as the first half ie scrum after scrum. Wayne Barnes may have let the game flow more, but unfortunately he was preparing to referee Ireland v Scotland.
Titans had the bulk of the territory in the early part of the second half but the curse of final passes not going to hand was still in evident, against it has to be said spirited defence.
Hawick then forced play towards the Titans 22 and after a period of pressure were awarded a penalty in front of the posts which their 10 nailed. 11-0 Hawick.
As the rain continued – in fact it was generally miserable conditions all round – the Titans approach was to keep the ball in the forwards with Struan Gartley to the fore, with several powerful runs.
However, following another move broke down, the Hawick 10 launched the ball towards the Dundee 22 and Hawick had a period of pressure . A penalty award followed which was taken successfully. 14-0 Hawick.
The feeling amongst the frozen masses in the stand was that this was not going to be the Titans day. At this stage it is only appropriate that credit is given to the stalwarts that pitched up in the rain to watch the match – President Tosh was , as always , to the fore alongside Messrs Reoch , Wright and Nicol . Gartley senior was as always good company keeping a running total of the numbers of scrums.
Special mention must be made of Captain Duncan Leese, who took his place in the stands to watch his troops. Duncan, in his final year at Uni studying for an MSc in how to save the world , let it be known that he had a bunch of Uni work to do which had to take priority that day , so he had the choice of either watching the Titans or watching Ireland v Scotland so he had chosen , yes , the Titans…….
Dunc – that is devotion , beyond the call of duty . Millions would not have made your choice.
The Titans kept on going , mindful of the fact that a bonus point would prove invaluable as the end of the season beckoned and coach Clinton brought himself on to rally the troops , but once again spirited defence and a couple of unsympathetic refereeing decisions kept them out.
The final whistle went – credit must be given to the referee – not many would have done his job in these miserable conditions – and the players headed eagerly for the showers.
Full Time – Dundee Titans 0 Hawick Force 14
It must have been miserable to play in that match, so credit to the players.
Did Hawick deserve to win – yeah probably for 2 reasons – they took their chances and their defence was solid throughout the match.
Another narrow defeat for the Titans did not do much for Clinton’s blood pressure and also not much for their league position which is still perilous. 3 games left and points have to be won. They certainly did not get the rub of the green in this match and on another day, this could easily have been a narrow victory.
Talking about rub of the green, it was certainly the weekend for the teams in green to win – Hawick, Ireland , Celtic , Hibs.
No doubt Lochee Harp would have made it 5 out of 5, but their match v Blairgowrie was cancelled.
No matches for the Dundee 1st XV or the Titans next weekend, with all eyes on the final Saturday in the 6 Nations.
Come along to the Mayfield clubhouse for Super Saturday and for those Club stalwarts going to Italy , enjoy and , as you will no doubt know , the important phrase in Italian is “un’altra birra per favore”.