GHA v Dundee HSFP, Braidholm , 7th October 2017
Both Dundee and GHA were looking for this game to give them a “pick me up”, following Dundee’s disappointing home loss against Edinburgh Accies last Saturday and GHA’s traumatic defeat to Aberdeen Grammar at Rubislaw the same day when their 24-3 lead was overturned to a 29-24 reverse.
It was an unfamiliar Dundee 1st XV that was published on the website on Thursday night, with several regulars missing. Injuries had ruled out Leesey, Ronan, Fraser, Ally Mackie and Paddy , while unavailability due to work commitments meant the services of Josh , Neil and Danny were denied . In addition, Ice was still defending the realm in Cyprus and Andy Dymock was in Copenhagen improving diplomatic , trade and social relations between Scotland and Denmark.
This meant a first team debut for Angus Farquhar, an ex Currie player now at Dundee Uni on the flank, a start for another Dundee Uni player Lewis McNamara on the other flank, a return for Andy Redmayne at lock and a youthful half back combination of Rory McGinn and Henry Sampson. Not quite so youthful, but just as welcome, was the return on Ross Lemon in the centre.
The bus set off for Glasgow in sunshine, with the Titans team on board boasting a full complement of 20, including several students from each of Dundee, Abertay and St Andrews making their first appearances for the Crown.
As the bus approached Glasgow – passing Bishopbriggs to be exact – the rain came on. No surprise there, then….
Broonie the captain led the players out and the word from the coaches were that the players were up for this one, they had a game plan and were confident that a victory be secured.
They certainly looked up for it, as the Dundee pack took control from the off and dominated the opening minutes with play concentrated in the GHA half.
Dundee went ahead in 8 minutes – a rampaging break by George, good back up by Henry and Rory, ball recycled and then passed through the backs for Evan Fairweather to cross the line. Keiran Scoular added the conversion to make it 7-0 to Dundee.
Following the kick off, GHA enjoyed a period of possession for the first time although not threatening the Dundee line. However a high tackle by Broonie saw him receive a yellow card and Dundee down to 10 men.
You would not have thought so though, as the Dundee pack continued to dominate and Keiran scored a penalty after 20 minutes. 10 -0 to Dundee.
Almost immediately after Dundee went further ahead.
Another break took George from the half way to the 22, ball was recycled and following Neil battering at the line, Henry and Rory created space for centre Andy Hamilton to go over near the posts.
Keiran converted to make it 17-0 to Dundee after 22 minutes.
Broonie then returned and the Dundee pack domination continued. In particular, the line outs were working like a dream with Angus’s accurate throws being swallowed up by Andy Redmayne and George.
It was therefore no surprise when Dundee scored again after 31 minutes.
A driving maul took play into the Glasgow 22 and good hands saw the ball quickly shipped out to Danny who crossed in the corner. Kieran narrowly missed the conversion. 22-0 to Dundee.
At this stage, a wee Glasgow wifie standing within earshot of your reporter was heard to say “maybe it’s time for uncontested scrums”.
This struck a raw nerve within the Dundee contingent, bringing back painful memories of the corresponding fixture last year when Dundee, with its pack in complete control were 19-0 up and cruising. A GHA prop then went off injured, followed in what seemed like indecent haste by another prop going off injured and so uncontested scrums. GHA took heart from this and overturned the 19 point deficit to run out winners.
Could this have been a dastardly plot of which GHA supporters were all part of ?
Could it happen again ??
Any concern re this subsided when Dundee scored again, with a try in a similar mould to the 3rd try. A powerful scrum, quick and accurate passing giving Danny the space to go over again. This time Keiran converted . 27-0 to Dundee.
It was then agreed amongst the Dundee support that the wee Glasgow wifie (who would probably prefer to be referred to a refined East Renfrewshire lady , but wee Glasgow wifie runs off the tongue better) would require more than her wish of uncontested scrums to turn this match around.
Indeed , nothing short of Hurricane Nate making a detour from Louisiana to Giffnock would offer GHA respite from the dominant Dundee pack.
Half time came with Dundee on the attack again.
Half Time – GHA 0 Dundee 27.
Sensational , stupendous , scintillating – any of these words could be used to sum up the first half from a Dundee perspective as the team had just delivered easily their best 40 minutes of the season so far.
Positive chat was exchanged amongst the Dundee support on the touchline until Alastair Robertson – father of dedicated duo Gavin and Ian and passionate Borderer – pointed out that it was not over yet as last year Dundee had been 19-0 up and had still lost.
This brought to mind the old phrase that it has never been hard to tell the difference between a Borderer and a ray of sunshine………………….
Old man Robertson’s mood was not improved 5 minutes into the second half when following a period of pressure, GHA scored a try with lock Adam Kerr going over in the corner.
Conversion missed. 27-7 to Dundee.
This gave GHA encouragement and for the first time in the match they had a period of concerted pressure. The Dundee defence held firm with centre Hamilton’s tackling particularly impressive.
Dundee were now not as dominant as the first half and GHA scored again when winger Spowart went over. Stand off Goudie converted. 27-12 to Dundee.
The chat amongst the Dundee support was the next score was important. If GHA scored again, it was game on, but another Dundee score should put daylight between the teams.
Dundee then regained control and play was concentrated in the GHA half. A couple of opportunities were missed and until a dominant scrum near the GHA line created the platform for James Forrester to batter over near the posts.
Kieran again converted. 34-12 to Dundee.
This score seemed to settle the team down and they regained their domination as the match entered the last quarter.
Coach Sangster used his replacement bench to add freshness and captain Broonie departed the scene to be replaced by Neil Dymock. Keg entered the pitch to a shout from Coach Sangster to “take over as Captain” and Neil led his young charges comfortably through the last quarter , with no further scoring.
Final Score – GHA 12 Dundee HSFP 34.
This was one impressive performace.
Forward domination was the key – exceptional work by the front row , Andy was imperious in the line out , Neil battered all day , with Lewis putting in an impressive shift on the flank. In addition , George was Man of the Match – says it all.
In the backs, Henry gave superb service all day , Rory’s composed performance belied his years and centre Hammy had a great match. Credit too to the back 3, who scored 24 out of the 34 points.
After the post match meal and couple of beers – thanks to Brian and GHA guys for their hospitality – the happy Dundee party departed for the return journey.
First stop was Morrisons in Giffnock where a carry out was purchased.
This may seem like a simple transaction , but in fact , the process is a major logistical exercise , involving hiring 3 skips to get the alcohol purchased from the supermarket to the bus and then a human chain of players formed passing the various products up the chain with the same accuracy and concentration that had been used to pass the ball during the match.
To the uninitiated , this was not a normal carry out along the lines of “4 crates of Tennants Lager” , but this was a carry out , exceptional in both volume and variety.
Volume in that there was enough alcohol to keep the Chinese Army in booze for a month.
Variety in that the following delights were noted as being passed through the human chain – WKD , Bacardi breezer , port , Caribbean twist , Low value lager , Vodka , Stella Artois , Milk , chocolate doughnuts , a tin of Ambrosia creamed rice , a pink ladies vest and 3 pairs of white male underpants.
Strict protocol , under the principle of “what goes on on tour stays on tour” means that no further details of the bus activities can be divulged , but fair to say that it was a happy bus that bounced its way home.
Discussion with coach Sangster on the way home – at the relatively sensible front of the bus – revealed that he was very happy with that performance. As he said , we have good players, we had a game plan , we executed it .Job Done.
Roll on the match v Stewarts Melville next Saturday.