Dundee HSFP v Cartha Queens Park, Mayfield, 2nd December 2017
After the thrilling exploits of the Scotland national team in the Autumn internationals against New Zealand and Australia at BT Murrayfield, it was back to auld claes and porridge and the latest BT National One fixture at Mayfield between Dundee and Cartha Queens Park. Dundee went into this match frustrated to be only in 7th place in BT National One. Their opponents, Cartha Queens Park, were in 9th place, having acquitted themselves well to life in BT National One after promotion .
It was a raw December Saturday morning and at the outset congratulations must go to Dave Connor and his groundstaff at Mayfield for getting the pitch playable, particularly for this the first of the 2pm kick offs .
The clubhouse was soon buzzing following the arrival of the 87 Lunch Club guests – thanks to all who came along including match sponsor MTC aka Dave Rankine and colleagues, the Boys of 1966 , Tim Hally and friends , Sam Smith (in absentia) and friends , Pete , Clive , the other regulars and the 17 strong group of Young Farmers who were seemingly on a mission to drink the clubhouse dry. Thanks guys for your contribution to the Club coffers – Oh to be young again……………..
Rugby royalty was also represented at the Lunch Club in the form of ex Ireland international Gordon Hamilton, father of our own Paddy – Gordon is a great supporter of Dundee High Rugby and an all-round good guy.
As always, well done to the Lunch Club team of Gerry, Sandy, Derek, Ken and Matt who, as always, put on a show par excellence.
The Dundee team was announced on the website on Thursday night, but as is seemingly always the case, there were further late changes.
Broonie had not recovered from the chest injury suffered v Aberdeen Grammar and Ally Mackie was unwell, so both pulled out on the morning of the match. The loss of these 2 sizeable gentlemen meant that the bulk of the Dundee pack was significantly reduced and their withdrawal, allied to the unavailable Danny Levison and the injured Andy Redmayne and Paddy Hamilton caused murmurs of concern at the Mayfield bar as the worthies consumed their pre-match pints.
However, the strength in depth of coach Sangster’s squad was illustrated with Keg replacing Broonie, Lewis McNamara taking over at 8 and a welcome 1st XV return for Kevin Franco after a heavy head knock sustained against Edinburgh Accies.
In the backs, there was a debut for new 10 Harvey Young, Josh was at 9 , with Ronan over his various injuries and on the wing.
The replacements included the name of club captain Duncan Leese for the first time this season – again very welcome.
Dundee were in blue and Cartha were in hoops – black, yellow, purple and green. I assume that there is a history and significance to this unusual colour combination.
The match got underway, with Dundee attacking the Dalgleish Road end and Dundee went ahead after 2 minutes. Following a thumping run by Neil Turnbull, the ball was recycled quickly and new 10 Harvey showed commendable awareness to throw a long pass out to Lewis who scored in the corner. Harvey then further endeared himself to the Mayfield faithful by effortlessly slotting the conversion from out wide. 7-0 to Dundee.
Cartha fielded a pack which could fairly be described a beefy and in the first couple of set pieces gained territory on the Dundee pack without as previously mentioned their 2 Mr Bigs – Broonie and Ally Mackie.
However it was Dundee then went further ahead when Harvey slotted a penalty. 10-0 to Dundee.
A pattern for the match was emerging with the bulky Cartha pack more than holding its own against the Dundee pack, but the Dundee backs looking the more dangerous when in possession.
This was illustrated after 20 minutes when quick passing amongst the backs led to a small amount of space being created for Neil Herron on the halfway line. As we all know that is all Neil needs and off he shot leaving his opposite number for dead, then sidestepping the full back to score near the corner. Harvey narrowly missed the kick. 15-0 Dundee.
Ten minutes later Dundee scored again with quick hands in the backs creating the space for Keiran to score near the posts. Harvey converted.
The last 10 minutes of the first half were played entirely in the Dundee half. The Cartha pack was dominating possession at this stage and the Dundee defence was being tested. A number of penalties were given against Dundee at which time the shout was heard from coach Sangster – “sort out the discipline”. His charges responded as Cartha battered the Dundee line looking for a try before half time. However, great defence by Dundee with the front row of Keg, Angus and Fozzie to the fore enabled Dundee to hold firm. The half time whistle was greeted by a roar of satisfaction from the Dundee pack.
Half Time – Dundee 22 Cartha Queens Park 0.
At the start of the 2nd half, Dundee brought on Leesey replacing Neil who had suffered a dead leg towards the end of the first half.
The satisfaction that the Dundee pack had taken from keeping a clean sheet at half time was obliterated only 5 minutes into the second half when after a driving maul following a line out near the Dundee line , the Cartha prop Juan Phyfer ( his surname suggests that he is from Kelty , but his first name suggests otherwise………….) dived over to score. Cartha 10 Gregor Davidson converted. 22-7 Dundee
In 50 minutes ,Dundee got the next points when Harvey nailed a penalty .
The next 10 minutes of the match saw Cartha dominate with their pack gaining the upper hand, thereby enabling them to retain the majority of the possession.
This period also saw the referee (Ruaridh Smith who gave a commendable performance throughout) award Cartha a plethora of penalties . Readers should please acknowledge the intellectual style of reporting adopted – “plethora of penalties” is a phrase readers are unlikely to encounter in “The Daily Record” or “The Sun”.
Indeed it was after the award of the 4th penalty in as many minutes that your reporter had the thought that the SRU had seemingly instructed referees to apply the same edict that the SFA (Scottish Football Association) would seem to have given the senior football referees ie “referees must award penalties to teams from Glasgow playing in hoops at every opportunity”…………………
Dundee were defending manfully at this stage , but the Cartha pressure told when second row Matt Gray scored a try. This was converted by Davidson.
This made the score 25-14 and given that the half time score had been 22-0 , this was now getting a tad close for comfort for the Mayfield support.
However, the Dundee team responded superbly to the grumbles from the Mayfield stand and terracings and for a period retained possession and we had glimpses of the exciting high tempo rugby of which the team is eminently capable.
Indeed, there was relief all round Mayfield when following prop James Forrester seized on a loose ball , kicked it on into the goal area and then displayed admirable pace for a prop to chase on and touch down to (a) put daylight between the teams and (b) secure the bonus point.
Harvey missed the conversion. 30-14 Dundee.
Dundee then extended the lead when Captain Leese signified his return from a series of injury to exchange passes with Ronan (just like they used to do for Dundee Eagles many moons ago) and romp over near the corner.
Mayfield rose to applaud a hugely popular try from a hugely popular player and captain.
Harveys’s conversion attempt narrowly failed.
As the game entered the final stages , Cartha scored the final points with a try by flanker Spriddle , converted by Davidson .
Final Score – Dundee HSFP 35 Cartha Queens Park 21
A win and a bonus point secured without very influential players meant that this was a satisfying afternoon for Dundee.
In the second half in particular strong defence was called for with the forwards digging deep against a strong Cartha pack.
There were strong performances from a young back row of Lewis McNamara , Kevin Franco and man of the match Angus Farquhar.
There was an accomplished display from new 10 Harvey Young and the encouraging sight of Leesey now back from injury
As a result , it was a happy crowd that filled the Mayfield clubhouse after the match.
Next week sees Dundee head for Falkirk , before Gala come to Mayfield on Saturday 16th December.
Victories in both matches would indeed make it a very Happy New Year.