Glorious autumn sunshine, albeit with a chill in the air, greeted the lunch-clubbers as they arrived for their lunch and entertainment before the match against Selkirk. Guests included a table hosted by match sponsor MTC whose supremo Dave Rankine doubles up as medical support co-ordinator each Saturday at Mayfield – thanks for all that you do for the Club Dave – a table of well-known local worthies from Dundee Collegians Rugby Club and rugby royalty was represented in the form of a table of ex Dundee High Rugby club presidents.
Indeed, your reporter had the privilege of being at the ex-Presidents table, sitting next to legends such as Bruno, Roger Leslie, Harvie Findlay, Bob Gray, Ken Andrew and Bill Dryden. Tales of matches won and lost were recounted and of particular interest was Bill Dryden’s comment that he first played for the club in 1947. A mere 71 years ago.
However, it is worth noting that the next table to this table of experience (to put it politely) was a table of current members of both the Dundee University and Abertay University rugby teams. Each table – in fact all the Lunch Club guests – were entertained by President Tosh, as always in top form with his own brand of insulting humour – an illustration that Dundee High Rugby’s legendary Lunch Club does indeed cater for all ages.
A look at the Dundee team revealed only one change from the side that had secured a well deserved and hugely welcome win at Cartha Queens Park the previous week – playmaker and 10 Ross Aitken returned , with young Rory McGinn rewarded for a great display at 10 in Ross’s absence by moving to the wing with Paul Ritch dropping to the bench. Older brother Danny stayed at 9 in the continued absence of the injured Stuart Lathangie , while Lewis McNamara’s injury also keeping him out , with Stuart Barlow continuing at 8. Captain Fraser McKay was still injured, but hopeful of returning next week.
They faced a Selkirk team, sitting 4th in the table, having made an impressive start to the season with 4 wins and only one defeat in their opening 5 matches. As this contrasted sorely with Dundee’s 1 win and 4 defeats, the feeling amongst the Mayfield faithful was that this would be one stiff test for Colin Sangster’s young side.
It was 2 games for the price of one for the crowd as the bottom pitch at Mayfield saw Selkirk’s 2nd XV kick off against the orange-clad Dundee Titans , their ranks including club legends (although of a younger vintage that the Ex-Presidents table who by this time were on their 2nd bottle of port) , such as Neil Dymock , Andy Dymock , Dougie Gray and Davie Mason.
Dundee kicked off, playing towards the Glasshouse and almost immediately play was concentrated in the Selkirk half. The Selkirk defence held firm initially,but the pressure eventually told when Dundee took the lead after just 5 minutes.
A kick from Kieran Scoular found touch near the Selkirk line. Although Selkirk won the line out and cleared, Dundee ran the ball back and an inter-passing move, ended with centre Duncan McIntyre gone over near the posts. Keiran converted.
This was just the start that Dundee wanted and they continued to take the game to Selkirk. All the play was in the Selkirk half and Dundee spent a full 5 minutes camped on the Selkirk line, with only desperate defence and finally a good clearing kick from fly half Banks saving Selkirk.
However, slowly but surely, Selkirk forced their way back into the match and rather ominously for Dundee , Selkirk scored following their first real bit of pressure when flanker McColm found space to score near the Dundee posts. The try was converted.
Dundee 7 Selkirk 7
15 minutes gone and 1 converted try each.
The next 10 minutes were very even and the neutral supporter would have had difficulty ascertaining which team was 4th top and which was 3rd bottom of the division.
It was Dundee however who got the next score – Selkirk were on the attack when Kieran Scoular gathered the ball near the Dundee line and went on this mazy run which saw him beat man after man and took him to just outside the Selkirk 22. Danny McGinn was on his shoulder and a gathered pass would surely have seen Danny in for a try, but the ball went loose. Dundee however kept possession and following quick passing, Duncan McIntyre found space to go over for his second try of the match. The conversion was missed.
Dundee 12 Selkirk 7
There then followed a period where Dundee looked comfortable in possession, without looking like adding to their lead but things changed when Selkirk won a penalty around half way and a raking kick gave them a line out near to the Dundee line.
The line out was won and there was a feeling of inevitability when the big Selkirk pack rumbled towards the Dundee line and sure enough they rumbled over. The try was converted.
Dundee 12 Selkirk 14
The final minutes of the half were played out with the play deep in Dundee territory, but committed defence kept the borderers out.
Half Time – Dundee High Rugby 12 Selkirk 14
The chat amongst the Mayfield faithful at half time was that while Dundee were performing better than in their last 2 home matches, Selkirk were giving the impression that they could move up had a couple of gears.
Coach Sangster made a couple of changes at half time – Josh replaced Danny at 9 and Cammie Mathieson replaced fellow teenager Ceillem Stewart at hooker.
Following the restart, Dundee were on the offensive and play was concentrated in the Selkirk half.
Prop Scott Doig went on a rampaging break but desperate defence by Selkirk kept him out.
Dundee’s pressure was then rewarded when Kieran kicked a penalty in front of the posts.
Dundee 15 Selkirk 14.
Dundee kept up the pressure and play continued to be concentrated around the Selkirk 22 and Dundee went further ahead when following several forward drives with Cammie Mathieson and Neil Turnbull to the fore, Josh and Ross went blind and created space for Gus Farquhar who scored in the corner. The conversion was missed.
Dundee 20 Selkirk 14
There then followed a period of Selkirk pressure but determined Dundee defence throughout the team but with the back row of Baz, Gus and Niall Hall to the fore, denied the Selkirk team any space.
Sangster freshened the pack up with Andy Clarkson (he of the hugely talented father) replacing Angus Thomson and then Angus returning to replace Neil.
The chat amongst the Dundee support was that Dundee were looking strong in defence and the confidence level then improved when Ross and Duncan combined just over the half way line to set up a one on one for right winger Kieran D’eath against his opposite number.
As Kieran collected the pass, the entire Mayfield stand and support on the banks implored him (good word – check the definition) to “back yourself – take him on”. Kieran did indeed back himself , skinned his opposite man on the outside in the classic right winger way and , to a great roar , accelerated off to score between the posts. The other Kieran converted.
Dundee 27 Selkirk 14
This put Dundee in the driving seat and the determination of each of the players to keep hold of this lead was clear for all to see. Ross and Hammy continued to defend heroically and the forwards, encouraged by Josh at 9 , held firm against any Selkirk drives.
Ross and Hammy then showed the attacking side of their game by combining well to create space for Baz to take the ball on the run and crash through the Selkirk defence into the 22. When Baz was eventually held up, he found Niall Hall on his shoulder and Niall took the ball on to score between the posts. Kieran converted.
Dundee 34 Selkirk 14
Hammy then went off to a well-deserved ovation.
Although victory seemed secure, the spirit of the young Dundee side in the final 5 minutes was very telling – Selkirk had all the possession and the majority of the play was in the Dundee 22 , but the Dundee defence never buckled and the determination not to concede any more points was great to see.
No side came when the solid Dundee pack secured their own put in and Josh kicked out to cue celebrations on the Mayfield banks and touchline.
FINAL SCORE – DUNDEE 34 SELKIRK 14
Firstly, this was a very enjoyable game of rugby with two committed teams. Credit also to young referee Graeme Ormiston the game flowing throughout – it is a credit to Graeme and indeed to both teams that only 13 penalties were awarded throughout the match.
From a Dundee perspective – naturally the most important perspective – this was a great result and a great performance.
For the second week in a row, Dundee’s young team have kept clean sheets in the second half. The spirit was there for all to see, defensive structures held firm and 5 tries against Selkirk is a significant achievement. Particular credit must go to the back row – man of the match Stuart Barlow, Gus Farquhar and Niall Hall – who tackled like furies all day.
The Titans had a comfortable victory over Selkirk’s 2nd XV , which added to the feel good factor which meant that it was a very happy clubhouse on Saturday evening.
You sometime get days when you think your stars are aligning – Saturday was such a day – an enjoyable lunch club , Mayfield in the sunshine looking like what it is – the best amateur rugby ground in Scotland to watch a match – victories for the Dundee 1st XV and the Titans – and a happy clubhouse. It was against that backdrop that your reporter left the clubby on Saturday and headed in the Dundee night thinking that to round off the Perfect Day, surely Jennifer Aniston would be in Mennies looking for a man……………