Dundee went into this BT National One match, the last of 2015 , sitting in 3rd place in the league after their convincing win against Howe of Fife the previous week.
They faced a Peebles side who were in last place in the league , but a review of their results showed that they had lost several games narrowly, including the Borders derby v Jedforest the week before. Indeed in the corresponding match in Peebles in September , there had only been 2 scores in the Dundee winning margin , so the message from the coaches to the Dundee players was “no complacency”.
The rain earlier in the week had cleared and it was a positively balmy scene at Mayfield on Saturday morning .
It was the Christmas Lunch at the Lunch Club and several Christmas jumpers were in evidence as the 75 revellers pitched up at midday and immediately got stuck into the Christmas spirits on offer in the clubhouse.
The Dundee team was still not a full strength, with centre partnership Tim McKavanagh and Neil Herron still out injured . They were joined on the injured list by Gav and Hamish – who took advantage of their enforced absence by joining the revellers at Christmas Lunch . In addition , Blair and Danny were unavailable and Ronan out under concussion protocol. Mike Brown – having recovered from his harvest efforts – came in at full back , Ross Lemon took Ronan’s place on the wing and 18 year old Euan Fox, the current captain of the Dundee High school team , started at 10 , with Duncan moving to 12 – or second five eighth as they call it in New Zealand.
It was noted that the crowd on the terracing was less than usual ,with some Mayfield regulars obviously being dragged off by their other halves to finish the Christmas shopping in the Overgate centre – a quite horrific prospect.
However , there was no holding back the 75 Xmas lunch revellers who was consuming red wine in the glasshouse as if Prohibition was about to be re-introduced. The sight of the teams lining up persuaded the Tourettes Corner table to take up their usual positions , but not before a stirring rendition of “Jingle Bells” was heard across Mayfield.
It was noted that the referee was Craig Clark , a South African currently based in Hamilton. A shiver went down the collective spine of the Dundee support – “oh no , not another South African referee called Craig” , as memories of Craig Joubert’s infamous penalty in the Scotland v Australia RWC quarter final came flooding back.
As it happened , their fears were unjustified as referee Craig had no Joubert-type moments and gave a good performance in the middle.
Dundee started the match on top , but a combination of handling errors and committed defence meant that there was no early breakthrough . Indeed the match remained scoreless until 5 minutes before half time when Gav Hughan expertly executed a number eight pick up to score . Duncan converted
7-0 to Dundee.
In the last play of the half , Dundee went further ahead when the Iceman kicked on and Duncan displayed first class anticipation and speed to touch down . Duncan’s conversion was unsuccessful.
Half Time – Dundee 12 Peebles 0.
The half time message to the Dundee team was to up the intensity and this they did from the off , forcing Peebles onto the back foot.
Passes that had been dropped in to first half started to go to hand and after a Captain Broonie break , Andy was on hand to take his pass and score.
Duncan converted . 19-0 Dundee.
The Dundee machine was now beginning to click into gear and the next score was not long delayed. Leesey , who was having a superb match , shipping a long pass to send Mike Brown over in the corner. His namesake (Harlequins and England full back with no hair) would have been proud of his finishing.
Duncan’s conversion from the corner just missed.
24-0 Dundee and bonus point secured.
As if to say “job done , bonus point won” , the Dundee team seemed to relax and Peebles forced play into the Dundee 22 , where their prop went over near the posts. The try was converted.
The Dundee team were then subjected to a verbal rocket from their captain under the posts and with the words of Captain Broonie ringing in their ears , they took possession from the kick off and took play into the Peebles half.
The ball was played wide, back in, out wide again and back in again in their trademark high tempo style , with a gap then being created for Gav to sprint clean through between the posts from 35 metres out.
Duncan converted to make the score 31-7 to Dundee.
The Dundee team were now well on top in the forward battle , where Gav Hughan was putting in a superb individual performance.
The forwards then took the ball on themselves to create the next score , when Captain Broonie crashed over. Further success was to come his way later in the evening when he would be the winner of the Players Beer Pong competition.
36-7 to Dundee.
Further high tempo rugby led to the 7th try when slick backs play saw Leesey run in for a try to bring Yuletide cheer to the Mayfield punters.
Great credit must go to the young Peebles team who never gave up and were rewarded with the last score , a try in the corner.
Final Score – Dundee 41 Peebles 12
All in all , a good performance by Dundee who took their time to get going , but played some super rugby in the second half. Some very good individual performances , but none better than Duncan Leese and Head Coach Colin Sangster’s choice as Man of the Match , Gavin Hughan. 7 tries and exciting rugby certainly pleased the supporters and satisfied the coaching team.
The clubhouse was packed after the match with these happy supporters mingling with very happy Xmas Lunch Club guests (many of whom had not ventured out onto watch the match , but had continued the festivities after lunch) in a spirit of Peace and Goodwill to all Men.
Indeed they were then joined by the Dundee team , gathering in the clubhouse for the Beer Pong championship. The clubhouse tills were ringing like the shops in the Overgate to bring a smile to AU President Mark Truswell’s face.
The news filtered through that both Watsonians and Marr had won , so it was no change at the top of BT National One , with Dundee ending 2015 handily placed in 3rd place for a promotion surge in the New Year.