High welcomed second placed Jed-Forest to a very dreich Mayfield with 3 late call offs in the home pack. So, it was with some trepidation that this scribe took his place in the plush press box.
The pitch was in surprisingly good nick but the wet caused the playing area to narrow as long passes were not advisable. However, throughout the game both sides mixed their play and didn’t just rely on pick and goes.
Jed looked a big strong outfit with the Young twins adding the class that good sides need. They also had the legend that is Kevin Barrie [ex Club International coach] as forwards’ coach and his dulcet tones proved to be the soundtrack to the game.
So with Coco Whittaker and Dougie Gray strutting their stuff on the twos pitch the big game got underway.
The match started at a good lick but, as predicted, handling was difficult, and little cohesion was in evidence. Jed were showing better skill-sets even at this early stage and a prod-through almost resulted in the first try. The resulting scrum saw the visitors retain possession and score on the 4th phase: at 8 minutes 5-0.
The home scrum, with hooker Cammie Mathieson propping at loose was now coming under the pump and Jed capitalised on their lion’s share of possession to sweep down the pitch to seal another try; this time a one metre sprint over the line by their tight-head: at 16 minutes 12-0.
With set piece proving disappointing for the home side, Jed looked to up the ante. Another try for the Borderers, this time by full back Young [like his twin a Scotland 7’s cap]: at 24 minutes 17-0.
High continued to impress with their collective effort but didn’t look like unlocking the visitors’ D.
Then 2 great plays from Dundee 6, Ross Milne, saw High at last on the front foot and on Jed’s try line, despite not scoring, the next 5 minutes saw High’s best spell with the ball sticking, and total commitment from all 15 players.
Kevin Franco had to leave the field to be replaced by Murray Devine into hook, just after this a suspiciously forward looking ball led to another away score, converted this time: 24-0.
With half-time approaching Cammie at loose-head took a bad one in the scrum and his match was coming to an end. Jed finished the half with their tails up and another score: HT 29-0.
The second half saw Ewan Grewar, yes Pob, roll back the years and bring his mature bulk to the fray, but the rejigged scrum couldn’t prevent a push over, converted to make it 36 to nil.
I thought that a shellacking was a definite, but that was Jed’s last score…
Dundee’s injury problems led to uncontested scrums and centre Andy Hamilton moving into the back row with skipper Fraser Mckay coming on and into midfield.
Dundee’s fly half, Ross Aitken, then made a great break, but handling errors saw the move fizzle out. Then that man Young again broke from deep in his own half to threaten the Dundee line.
With an arrowhead support, a try seemed on, but he eschewed his back up and went alone, only for Keiran Scoular to put in a bobby-dazzler of a cover tackle to save the day.
The next 10 minutes saw play contained in mid pitch with both sides not really looking like scoring, until skipper McKay snuck an interception to run under the posts and convert to make it 36-7 after 36 second half minutes.
Play went on for the remainder of the half with nothing to write home about. Dundee had drawn the second half and that is credit to this young, injury-ravaged side’s “never say die” attitude.
Special mention again to Baz Barlow; what a shift the number 8 put in. Dundee can take some positives from their defensive efforts but our set piece continues to cause concern. Jed were good, but not great and the team’s second half lethargy will be addressed by Mr Barrie I don’t doubt.