With Scotland’s game against Fiji causing a twelve noon kick–off, the fixture could not be accommodated at Mayfield so Forfar Road played host on a beautiful Autumn day.
Playing for precious match points and the Dallas Allardice Trophy, Dundee chose to play up the slope and into a stiff breeze.
Dundee’s prep for this one had been challenging to say the least, with four injury call offs on Thursday and a further two players off to Murrayfield. So Morgan’s hooker Taylor Smith made his first appearance for the Crown and didn’t look out of place.
Aberdeen lined up with three ex High players in the squad, Greg Ryan and Jollands in their back row and Emu aka Robin Cessford on the bench.
As expected then Aberdeen had the bulk of possession and went 7-0 up early doors. Dundee’s effort and endeavor was commendable and things got a wee bit easier when Aberdeen’s hooker got 10 in the sin bin.
However, both teams’ accuracy was not the best, with the home side taking the knock on contest with at least 4 in the opening half.
It was now Dundee’s fate to go down to 14 men with skipper McKay off for ten after a deliberate knock on. Then came Aberdeen’s second through a penalty try conceded at a ten metre scrum. The half came to a close with winger Ruaridh Hood off with an ankle knock, and the talk in the home support crowd was that they had done well to keep it to 2 scores against the elements.
Dundee seemed to get the message that kicking for position was the best option and it was the visitors who were trying to play from their try line. Then some messy stuff from both teams ended with a converted try for Dundee through Ross Aitken.
14-7 and looking better with the pace of Dundee’s play going up a notch and at last some phases of play in the opposition’s red zone. Dundee goaled two penalties in quick succession and it looked game on at 14-13. Aberdeen seemed to be struggling to get out of their twenty two and the feeling was if Dundee kept up the simple style of kicking deep then playing rugby all would be well.
Dundee though reverted to running the ball from anywhere and everywhere with poor ball retention. When Aberdeen were handed the ball in midfield they ran directly and with purpose and this with the home team’s tackling taking a back seat meant 3 scores, all run in from 30+ metres. So from 14-13 down High found themselves bewildered and 33-13 down as fulltime approached.
Aberdeen got 5 points and a trophy and scooted back up to the Granite City tout de suite.
For Dundee to have taken anything from this game they needed to stick to the pragmatic position/possession style, keep ball and up the intensity in the tackle.
Let’s hope Coach Sangster has a less fraught week coming up and he gets some players back healthy and on it.