Another weekend, and another trip to God’s own country, also known as the Borders, this time to Jedburgh, where President Paul Cranston and his band of helpers (including the legendary Roy Laidlaw) did their best to make us feel even more welcome (off the park!) than Selkirk had last week.
It was another perfect day for rugby at Riverside Park, unlike rain-lashed and windy Biggar, just 40 miles away, where our Titans had earlier ground out a notable 8 – 3 win (clearly a game for the rugby purists!) against all the odds. Jed kicked off on a perfect surface with no wind whatsoever to trouble the players, but got a wake up call in the first minute as a big Dundee scrum shunted them back and won Dundee a penalty, the first of many in our favour that half. For once, Dundee had started well, and they kept that going throughout the first half, apart from one 2 minute spell, which cost us dear. The restored Angus Thomson put in a couple of good tackles, skipper Fraser McKay delivered a couple of good attacking kicks, and after 10 minutes a penalty was banged over by Fraser to put us 3 – 0 ahead. Unfortunately, despite all the good work being put in in all other departments, particularly our ball retention and clearing out at the break down, much improved from last week, our line out was yet again a weakness, with Jed attacking our throw well, and we could never establish any platform off that all afternoon.
And after 25 minutes, we paid the price. An attacking line out was lost, Jed’s dangerous backs made a searing break, and looked odds on to score until a great covering tackle halted them just short. Dundee were forced to concede a penalty (the first of the half!) and Jed set up a lineout 5 metres out, which they won comfortably. A series of pick and drives followed, leading to prop Ferreira going over, converted by Jed No. 9 (and man of the match) Gary Munro. 7 – 3 to Jed. Dundee kicked off, but a huge clearing kick by Jed took play back to our 22, and another lost lineout led to a decisive Jed midfield break for Gregor Young to canter over under our posts. Dundee, who had matched Jed in every department except the line out, were suddenly 14 – 3 down. Skipper McKay had been injured in the build up to Jed’s score, and was replaced by Paul Ritch, who slotted in on the wing, and Kieran Scoular moving to full back.
What looked like another Jed score was denied for a “double movement”, and Dundee took advantage of that escape to regroup and work their way back into the game. Harry Meadows was again making good yards with a number of carries, and Dundee looked the likelier team to score, with Kieran Scoular duly slotting over another penalty to make it 14 – 6 to Jed at half time.
Flanker Kevin Franco had been replaced by Andy Hamilton as the 1st half drew to a close, and at half time 2nd row Andy Clarkson made way for Greg Anderson. Dundee started the second half brightly, and another scrum penalty on Jed’s 22, after a great break by stand off Harry Mercer, who many felt was having his best game so far, was slotted over by Scoular to bring Dundee back to within 5 points of Jed. Keiran D’Aeth took a knock and was replaced by Josh Rutnagur taking over the No. 9 duties, with Stewart Lathangie moving out to the wing.
But as so often happens in a season where things go against you, the roof suddenly fell in on a game Dundee side. Jed’s No. 10, who kicked well all afternoon, pushed through a defence breaking grubber, gathered by their full back Young, who was just denied by a great covering tackle by Paul Ritch. Jed recycled possession, and another kick through took a wicked bounce, Lathangie on the wing infringed to prevent a certain try, and was rewarded for his efforts by a yellow card, and a penalty try to Jed. 21 – 9 after 55 minutes.
Prop Jack Newth, who had put in another good shift, was now replaced by debutant Darren Donaldson, but suddenly, the stuffing seemed to have been knocked out of this Dundee side, and Jed took clinical advantage of this as they seemed to move up a gear in the last 25 minutes. Winger Cranston scored 2 tries as the Dundee defence, one man short, ran out of defenders in the 58th and 65th minutes, and a final try by second row Skeldon with 4 minutes left, all 3 converted by Munro, made the final score 42 – 9 to Jed.
Reflections: Jed were a clinically efficient team, with their dangerous backs making some searing breaks, but the scoreline did not do credit to a solid Dundee performance for the first hour or so, before Jed’s strong finish made sure they ended the day back up on top of National League One.
Dundee Team: 15 Fraser Mackay, 14 Kieran D’Aeth, 13 Marshall McLeod, 12 Ross Aitken, 11 Kieran Scoular, 10 Harry Mercer, 9 Stewart Lathangie; 1 Jack Newth, 2 Dylan Whitcombe, 3 Harry Meadows, 4 Andy Clarkson, 5 Angus Thomson, 6 Kev Franco, 7 Angus Farquhar, 8 Lewis Macnamara
Replacements 16 Darren Donaldson, 17 Greg Anderson, 18 Andrew Hamilton, 19 Josh Rutnagur, 20 Paul Ritch