Dundee HSFP v Kelso, Mayfield, 13th January 2018
2018 had begun successfully for Dundee High rugby, with a close but deserved win being secured at Selkirk. This victory with an under-strength team, combining with Kelso defeating Aberdeen Grammar, had allowed Dundee to move up to 5th place in BT National One. Their opponents, Kelso, were in 8th place, but in confident mood following the aforementioned close victory over Aberdeen Grammar the previous week.
It was a raw Saturday afternoon but then again, the 13th of January in Scotland is hardly likely to generate tropical sunshine.
The clubhouse was soon buzzing following the arrival of the 84 Lunch Club guests. A particular feature was the table of ex players celebrating the 5 year anniversary of Dundee playing in the B&I Cup against Cornish Pirates, Swansea and Carmarthen. They got the spirit of the occasion going by commandeering some crates of Cornish Rattler cider and this kicked off the Lunch in predictable fashion. Guys – great to see you all again.
Rugby royalty was represented at the Lunch in the form of Past SRU President and Crown Legend Ian Rankin (coach of aforementioned B&I team) who teamed up with his erstwhile little darlings to roll back the years.
It was good to see a healthy Kelso support in the clubhouse and President Tosh , as always , welcomed the guests in his inimitable and hugely entertaining way.
It was fair to say that there was no sign of any Dry January at Mayfield on Saturday lunchtime.
As always, well done to the Lunch Club team of Gerry, Matt, Sandy, Derek and Robin who, as always, put on a show par excellence.
The Dundee team – and the Titans team to face Boroughmuir on the bottom pitch – were announced on the website on Friday morning and these had the Mayfield faithful purring in anticipation. Several players had returned from long term injury allowing 2 seriously strong squads to be named.
As always though, there was changes on the day. Ally Mackie was a late call off, with George moving to the back row alongside Danny and Gav Hughan.
Andy Redmayne came in at second row, with Lewis McNamara called up onto the bench.
In the backs, Leesey was a full back, Harvey was back at 10 with Neil and Andy Hamilton in the centre.
Broonie had just recovered from the chest injury suffered v Aberdeen Grammar in November so he was packing down for the Titans in certainly the strongest team that Jimmy Michie has had the luxury of picking this season. Indeed each member of the Titans team (with the exception of young Paul Ritch whose time will come), had represented the 1st XV within the last 12 months.
Just to add to the feelgood factor, the fans’ favourite Ice – on temporary leave from his army tour defending the Realm in Cyprus – was making his first appearance for the Dundee 1st XV at Mayfield since September.
However, as Dundee came on the pitch in tangerine, your reporter’s feel-good factor was replaced by a feeling of premonition as I am still undergoing trauma counselling after witnessing the football tangerines – Dundee United’s disgraceful and embarrassing 6-1 humping by Falkirk last week.
Surely a tangerine curse could not afflict the Dundee High rugby team ??
The match got underway, with Dundee attacking the Dalgleish Road end and Dundee went ahead after 5 minutes. Harvey capitalised on a mishandling in the Kelso backs to feed George who scampered in between the posts. Harvey added the conversion. 7-0 to Dundee.
At the same time that George was scoring for the 1sts, Ronan was outpacing his Boroughmuir opposite number to score for the Titans to give the Mayfield faithful 2 tries for the price of one.
It was noted that the Kelso pack were bulky and in the first couple of set scrums more than held their own against the Dundee pack.
A pattern for the match was emerging with the big Kelso pack looking a match for the Dundee scrum, but the Dundee backs looking the more dangerous when in possession. Harvey had a couple of promising breaks which came to nothing.
After 15 minutes, Kelso got on the scoreboard, thanks to the efforts of their pack. A penalty kick to the corner, a secured line out and a forward drive resulted in a touchdown in the corner. The conversion was missed.
At this stage, Dundee were struggling to find any rhythm , with handling errors bringing a halt to any momentum. Territory was fairly even , with defences on top.
Kelso then went ahead after 30 minutes when a grubber kick was played into the Dundee goal area. There seemed no particular danger but a slip by a Dundee defender left an easy score for Kelso winger Iain Sim.
The try was converted by full back Craig Dods.
The mutterings amongst the Dundee support were that things were not going to plan and indeed they were not. The penalty count was mounting against Dundee – no doubt to the huge frustration of the Dundee coaching staff – and a further infringement gave Craig Dods another penalty chance which he took.
Towards the end of the first half, Dundee managed to exert some pressure and Harvey nailed a penalty just before half time.
Half Time – Dundee 10 Kelso 15.
The half time chat amongst the Dundee punters was that Dundee’s performance must surely improve in the second half, but pleasure was taken in the fact that the Titans were beating Boroughmuir at half time.
Let’s cut to the chase – the second half was not good.
Dundee had most of the possession and most of the territory, but the first half problems of handling errors and giving away too many penalties continued.
Kelso’s defence, to be fair, was first class.
Their home grown pack, containing players of pure Borders stock such as Catalin Andrei Graur , Paudie Lawlor and Heino Gaiser , matched the Dundee pack and even when down to 14 men following a yellow card to the large gentleman called Paudie , they held their own.
As time went on, the stop-start nature of the play continued, the weather became colder and the collective mood of the Mayfield faithful worsened as it became apparent that this was not going to be Dundee’s day.
Indeed the highlight of the second half was on the Titans pitch when Titans winger Jack Paladini broke clear of the Boroughmuir defence and headed for the line. The Bmuir fullback was covering across and looked a shoe-in favourite to tackle Jack, but young Paladini – son of Broughty Ferry worthy Sandro – had a trick up his sleeve……..
Jack produced a hand off – not a normal hand off – but a hand off which connected with his opponent , to quote a good Dundee phrase – “right in the puss” . The Bmuir full back was understandably taken aback by this unexpected assault, missed his tackle and Jack crossed the line for what turned out to be the winning try. Good on you, Jack.
Dundee had a chance to snatch victory at the end but another handling error enabled Kelso to clear their lines and hold on until no side.
The referee’s whistle brought an end to an entirely forgettable second half in which – remarkably – there was no scoring, with the celebrations of the Kelso players and supporters showing what victory meant to them.
Final Score – Dundee HSFP 10 Kelso 15
Given the prematch confidence – win v Selkirk , players back from injury and a strong team out , this was a disappointing result and performance.
Kelso deserved their win as they made less mistakes and, to their credit , they displayed first class spirit and excellent defence.
Was this the Tangerine curse ??
Nah – simply a case of the Dundee team not playing to their potential and, to be fair, the players and the coaching staff readily admitted that it had been a below-par performance throughout the team.
Next week sees Dundee head for Edinburgh Accies . On the face of it a hard shift against the league leaders, but Dundee arguably should have won on their last trip to Raeburn Place and if the team can get their mojo back, then who knows?
After the match, the B&I reunion festivities continued in the clubhouse. With the Rattler cider well and truly flattened, Captain Keg commandeered a karaoke machine and the party commenced.
Mention must be made of the Kelso crew who stayed on, fully entered into the clubhouse mayhem and then stayed in Dundee overnight .
Thanks for your company guys and , by the way , a wise choice – this week Dundee was voted by Wall Street Journal alongside Shanghai and Madagascar as one of the Top Ten 2018 Hot Destinations , so maybe we can look forward to more away team supporters enjoying full on Mayfield hospitality , then a night in the City of Cool.