Dundee HSFP v Edinburgh Accies , Mayfield , 30th September 2017
Dundee went into this game in 6th place of BT National League One , on the back of an encouraging victory at Kelso last week , against an Edinburgh Accies side with 4 wins out of 4 and sitting top of the League alongside Gala and Selkirk.
The chat at the Mayfield bar before kick off was that this was a hard game to call , with no clues given from the previous 2 matches between the clubs at Mayfield. Last season , Accies won comfortably 40-6 , whereas in 2015/16 , a Neil Herron-inspired Dundee had cruised to a 48-14 victory.
Dundee’s previous 3 matches had been against border teams (Gala , Selkirk and Kelso) , but Accies’s perceived position as the City Slickers was given credence when the Edinburgh team arrived at Mayfield in a luxurious team coach which would not have looked out of place carrying the Barcelona football team. It was noted – possibly unkindly – by a worthy at the Mayfield bar that the Dundee team bus – particularly in previous seasons – in comparison looked like a berry bus.
For those readers under 18 ,ask your parents what a berry bus is.
The teams came out in glorious sunshine , as announcer McKay thanked the match sponsors Thorntons and the Lunch Club Sponsor , that world famous Rugby Club of finely tuned athletes , Dundee Collegians.
Those on the far side touchline were then treated to the sight of the assistant referee (still linesman to me , but that is betraying my age and my curmudgeonly nature) , running to the touchline , turning round and promptly falling over the McGills board. This raised suspicions amongst the spectators that the said assistant referee had enjoyed fine and sustained hospitality at the Collegians table at the Lunch Club , but this was denied by the assistant referee.
The Dundee team were missing long term injured players Duncan Leese and Fraser McKay , while Danny Levison was unavailable and the McGinn brothers lined up with Rory at 10 and Danny on the wing.
The rugby anoraks in the crowd noted that there were 2 sons of Scotland Grand Slam legends on the pitch . Neil Turnbull , son of Derek Turnbull the Hawick forward who played for Scotland in the 1984 Grand Slam , was in the Dundee pack , while the Accies flanker was Jamie Sole , whose father David famously walked Scotland out to victory in the 1990 Grand Slam Murrayfield victory v England.
It was first blood to Dundee after 3 minutes ,when they were awarded a penalty in front of the Accies post. Full back Keiran Scoular , a former Edinburgh Accies player , nailed the kick to put Dundee 3-0 ahead.
The lead did not last long however as a Dundee clearing kick was gathered in space by Accies winger Matt Coupar , who used pace and a sidestep to beat 2 Dundee players and set up an attack that sent second row Robert Lovett in between the posts. Richard Mill converted . 7-3 to Accies , 10 minutes gone.
Play was then concentrated in midfield when long time Dundee supporter Jim Scott tried to move to get a better view of the action and fell over the same McGills board in exactly the same manner that the assistant referee had done 10 minutes previously.
The McGills board was then given a severe kicking by friends of Jim Scott and moved safely out of the reach of the supporters.
The next score then went Dundee’s way when Keiran Scoular hit a superb penalty from the half way line. 7-6 to Accies , 15 minutes.
Accies then began to dominate possession and , as has always been the case with the Edinburgh Accies sides over the years , they had fast skilful backs . These backs were seeing plenty of the ball but the Dundee defence held firm. At this stage , Dundee were struggling to get any rhythm going, with the line-outs not functioning as efficiently as the coaches would have wanted and the backs finding it difficult to generate space.
Accies then got a powerful drive going with the momentum winning several yards , but Dundee managed to stop as it entered their 22. The referee decided that the method used was illegal and , to add insult to injury , flashed a yellow card at Paddy Hamilton.
It has to be said that Paddy is not a stranger to yellow cards – in fact ,this one was his third in 3 matches , but the view on the Mayfield touchline was that this one was harsh.
Not that Accies worried about that one jot , as after winning the line out from the penalty to touch , they recycled the ball and created the space for centre Neil Armstrong to score between the posts. Your reporter is tempted to report that Neil Armstrong was over the moon to score , but that would be a tired ,cliched attempt at humour and not befitting the Crown.
Richard Mill added the conversion.
14-6 to Accies.
Dundee then enjoyed a spell of possession when they started to get some fluency into their play and were rewarded with another long range penalty from Keiran Scoular to reduce the leeway to 14-9. 30 mins gone.
Accies however regained the momentum from the kick off and continued possession saw them camped in the Dundee 22 . The Dundee defence was committed but a rolling maul saw prop James Pearse drive over for a try.
Richard Mill again converted to put Accies 21-9 ahead at 32 minutes.
When Accies again took possession from the kick off and forced their way into the Dundee 22 , there looked like another score was on the cards , but committed Dundee defence , with Paddy back on , held out. The Dundee support were at this stage willing their team to hang on until half time , but after a penalty to Dundee relieved the pressure. This led to a further penalty which Keiran launched into the Accies 22.
2 minutes left until half time – could Dundee get the score to bring them back into the game ?
The answer seemed to be yes as Ally Mackie made a trademark run and was heading for the line , only to be stopped by a high tackle.
Penalty given to Dundee, with the expectation that a yellow card to the Accies culprit would follow.
However much to the astonishment of the Mayfield faithful , no yellow card was produced. This resulted in passionate debates in the stand and on the touchlines , along the lines of “how come Paddy got a yellow for bringing down a maul as it approached the Dundee 22 , yet their guy did an illegal high tackle on Ally when he was heading for the line and is still on the pitch ?”
Passions were rising as Dundee opted for the scrum near the Accies line . Angus hooked the ball and the pack were looking to drive Accies over their own line when the referee’s popularity at Mayfield increased hugely when he awarded Dundee a penalty try.
21-16 Accies Half Time.
The new rule whereby a penalty try generates 7 points without the requirement for a conversion was unknown to several worthies on the Mayfield touchline , so thanks to the charming lady who pointed out the rules to Hutch and myself as we , in our blissful ignorance , awaited the kick to be taken.
So , 21-16 at half time , a score which you suspected Dundee would be happier with than Accies.
The chat amongst the Dundee support at half time was that if Dundee could get the next score , then the pressure would be on Accies.
Dundee made a change at half time with returning Prodigal Son and Mayfield favourite Andy Dymock coming on at 9 , Josh moving to 10 and Rory going off.
The Dundee support optimism was shattered 5 minutes into the half when Richard Mill kicked a penalty for Accies. It was noted that the Accies 10 was a tidy kicker , with each kicking opportunity nailed.
24-16 to Accies.
As the second half progressed ,Dundee began to ring the changes, with Lewis McNamara replacing Paddy – a case of one prominent Northern Ireland schools player being replaced by another.
Accies however continued to have more of the ball , with their backs looking threatening particularly when they got space to run.
This is exactly what happened when fullback Luther Hirini took the ball at pace and created space for the dangerous Matt Coupar to score.
This delighted the Accies chappies on the far touchline and the cries of “Accies!!!” were heard again when Richard Mill – who was becoming a right royal pain in the erse with his immaculate kicking – converted.
31-16 to Accies and it would seem , daylight between the sides.
Dundee then had a period of sustained pressure for the first time in the match with several close calls near the Accies line . Indeed , there were a number of claims for scores as Dundee players tried to force over the line. This pressure eventually told when Danny McGinn went in at the corner.
Keiran missed the conversion but at 31-21 , Dundee had hope again , with 15 minutes left.
Dundee then had their best spell of the match , sensing that a comeback was one and the braying of the Accies chappies was temporarily silenced.
Unfortunately , the achilles heel of the Dundee side so far this season – a tendency to give away too many penalties – came to light again , although it was considered on the touchline that a number of the penalties were of the dubious variety.
As the match moved towards the last few minutes , Neil Turnbull took the ball on the run into space , only for the referee to give a forward pass , a decision certainly not greeted with universal approval on the Mayfield touchlines.
This was Dundee’s last chance and Accies showed them how to take chances with a fine move resulting in Jordan Thompson scoring a try in the corner.
Richard Mill – naturally – converted .
Final Score – Dundee 21 Edinburgh Accies 38.
It was generally accepted in the Mayfield bar after the match that Edinburgh Accies deserved their win and ,in any case , the try count of 5 to 2 is hard to argue against.
The Accies backs looked dangerous and this added to a well drilled pack suggests that they will be around the top of the league throughout the season.
Dundee’s young team played well in flashes when they showed what they are capable of and certainly did not get the rub of the green at key stages in the match.
Next week sees Dundee on the road to Glasgow to take on GHA