Dundee High Rugby v Jedforest , Forfar Road , Dundee , Saturday 29 April 2017
As has been the case in recent weeks , Dundee fielded a very young side for this final league match of the season against Jedforest at Morgan’s Forfar Road ground – 12 players out of the starting line up were aged 22 or under.
The more mature members of the Dundee support recalled the “Busby Babes” , the famous young Manchester United team of the 1950/60s – and as the Dundee team lined up , they were christened “Sangster’s Bairns”.
The message to Sangster’s bairns was clear – a win with a bonus point would enable Dundee to finish the season in 4th place in the league . This would be a very commendable effort , given the brutal injury list which Colin and his coaching team have had to contend with throughout the season.
The match was reported to have a 2.30pm kick off , but for some reason (of which this reporter was blissfully unaware ), the match actually kicked off at 2.15pm. Indeed your reporter was still making his way pitchside when Dundee went ahead – George broke towards the line and offloaded to the supporting Sean Gauld who went over in the corner to score his first try for the club. A memorable moment for a lad who is still at school.
Fraser McKay nailed a super conversion to make the score 7-0.
Sean then went off injured to be replaced by Reggie , who along with Broonie and Ross , increased the average age of the team considerably.
Reggie moved into the row alongside Jack , with George moving to flank where he would be free to indulge his unique brand of unstructured , free spirit back row play.
After 18 minutes , Dundee went further ahead when Ronan Joy took the ball at a great angle and scored between the posts . Fraser successfully converted to make the score 14-0.
At this stage , Dundee were playing very open running rugby , taking full advantage of the excellent Forfar Road surface. A superb break by Andy Dymock , supported by George , led to the Dundee backs having a 3 man overlap which they did not take advantage of , but the next score was delayed only by a matter of minutes . A strong set piece in the Jed 22 , a powerful break to Ally Mackie and the ball was moved wide to Ronan who skinned his man to score in the corner.
Fraser kept up his 100% record with another great conversion from the corner.
21-0 and , after 30 minutes , the chat amongst the Dundee support was that the team looked well on track for the win and the bonus point.
Indeed the crucial 4th try came after 34 minutes when a probing kick by Josh took play deep into Jed territory . Following strong running by Ally and George the ball was recycled and Bagga went over in the corner.
Fraser continued his master class of kicking to convert and the scores was 28-0.
This lead was increased just before half time , when Broonie’s pass let in young hooker Angus Campbell (another player still at school) to score between the posts. Fraser naturally converted . 35-0 to Dundee who were rampant.
Dundee looked as if they would score each time they had possession , but the referee’s half time whistle took Jed out of their misery.
The half time thoughts amongst the Dundee support was that this had been a first class performance – exciting , attractive running rugby from a very young and talented side , as reflected by the fact that 2 out of the 5 tries so far had been scored by players who have been playing schools rugby this season.
At half time , Ryan Fairweather replaced Euan Campbell on the wing for Dundee.
The half time talk to the Dundee team was to keep the intensity going at the start of the second half , particularly recalling last weeks match when GHA scored 2 tries in the first 5 minutes of the second half.
This execution of this plan (ie keep things tight early doors in the second half) was not an overwhelming success as Jed scored a try with their first attack.
In an honest admission of shoddy journalism , I have no idea which Jedforest player scored as I was on my phone checking the football scores , but I do know that they missed the conversion. 35-5 to Dundee.
In a carbon copy of the GHA match, Jed then scored again and this time it was converted . 35-12 to Dundee.
Could a comeback be on ?
Dundee then woke up and following a rampaging run by Ally Mackie , the ball was moved out to the backs in space . Fraser threw a long well timed pass to Ronan who completed his hat trick of tries with a powerful burst into the corner. This was 4 tries in 2 games for Ronan who admitted after the match that he had taken coach Sangster’s advice to “use your pace and power to beat your man and not jump around like a kangaroo when you get the ball”.
Fraser missed the kick from the corner – understandable as Dundee were playing into a strong wind . Dundee up by 40 -12 after 50 minutes.
This settled Dundee down and they picked up again the high intensity ,strong running rugby that they had displayed throughout the first half.
This led to play being concentrated in the Jed 22 and interpassing between the Dundee forwards trio of Broonie , George and Jack left Jack with a run-in between the posts.
Fraser added the conversion – 47-12 to Dundee after 50 minutes.
To Jed’s eternal credit , they stayed focused and indeed were on top throughout the next 10 minutes when they controlled possession.
A memorable feature of this period was a run by Jed winger Robbie Shirra-Gibb which took him the length of the pitch and he seemed certain to score until , in a classic piece of Number 8 cover play , Ally Mackie covered across to put in a try-saving tackle just short of the line.
Later on Saturday night , Ally would be awarded the “Newcomer of the Year” award at the Club Dinner and this example of whole-hearted play explained why this award was unanimous.
The Jed winger however then did get on the score sheet following a period of Jed pressure. The try was converted by scrum half Gary Munro.
47-19 to Dundee.
Dundee then went further ahead following a break by captain Dymock , who then linked with Danny , Josh , and Ryan to put Fraser over for an excellent try.
The conversion was missed – 52-19 to Dundee after 65 minutes.
Yet again , Jed’s spirit was commendable as they dominated play and possession for the final 15 minutes and were rewarded in 70 minutes when prop Paulo Ferreira bundled over for a converted try. 52-26 to Dundee.
This was the burly prop’s last action as he lumbered off , but any thoughts that Dundee prop Jonny Gibson might have had that his afternoon was about to get easier were immediately dispelled when Jed brought on the biggest man in the borders as his replacement. This man had no number on his back , so he was not immediately identifiable . He therefore was referred to as the “Big Man.”
Indeed , following further Jed pressure , Big Man – it had to be him , hadn’t it – bounced over for a try for Jed beside the posts. This was converted by Gary Munro. 52-33 to Dundee.
The last few minutes were played out with a series of penalties for both sides and the referee’s whistle for no side sounded the end of the match and , indeed , the end of the season.
Final Score – Dundee Rugby 52 Jedforest 33
First things first – job done.
Win with bonus point secured 4th place , enabling us to leapfrog Falkirk and finish behind Marr , Edinburgh Accies and Jedforest .
Well done to the players and the coaching team – great effort.
For the second week in a row , a young Dundee team played some scintillating running rugby and to have put 60 points past GHA and 50 points past Jedforest in consecutive weeks is impressive indeed.
As will always be the case with a young side , there are areas to work on and the high penalty count against Dundee in recent weeks will have been a concern to the coaching staff.
However , overall , as season 2016/17 ends , there is a lot to be optimistic about for Dundee High rugby supporters.
We have a young team – consisting of several players who have come through the Eagles ranks , along with a steady pipeline of talented players coming from Dundee High School – adopting the coach’s philosophy of high tempo running rugby and who , crucially enjoying playing with each other.
Roll on season 2017/18 when surely it is not too much to ask that we will have better luck on the injury front.