Another much changed line up from last week ran out to face Highland at Mayfield for the first time in many years in today’s National One League match. It is strange to think that we are the closest opposition they play in the league. It shows their dedication in travelling huge distances every second Saturday, and will account for the smiles on the faces of what must be some very happy bus hire company owners up in Inverness.
Highland had us under the pump in the first encounter in Inverness. Could we do better today? Unfortunately, that question really resolved itself after just 10 minutes, when with the game still scoreless, No. 8 Kev Franco launched himself at a ducking Highland player. No malice, but the high tackle looked bad, and the referee decided on red; no real complaints there. But the prospect of playing the next 70 minutes short handed was not appealing…
To give the boys their due, they really fronted up and took the game to Highland. Despite being shunted back at a rate of knots in most of the set scrums all afternoon, after the first couple we generally got our own ball, albeit often untidy. The line out was reasonable, and we competed well at the breakdown against a lot of big lads in the Highland pack. The backs looked sharp in possession, and defended well against a slightly disappointing Highland back division.
As the game resumed after the red card, Highland looked to have gone over under the posts, but the ball was held up. The resulting 5 metre scrum was moving slowly forward over our line when bafflingly their scrum half decided to pass the ball out, and the chance was lost. However, after 18 minutes their captain, big second row Stuart Butler, went over, with stand off Scott Fraser’s conversion making it 7 – 0.
Duncan McIntyre was showing up well on his return, a great covering tackle being followed by a fine break by him that led to Highland’s Nawacaleva being sin-binned for not retreating 10 metres at the break down penalty, levelling numbers up for 10 minutes. Flanker Sedge was hurt in the move, and replaced by Craig Henderson.
Just as it looked like Dundee might hold out till half-time, Highland got 2 tries in quick succession. The first was a good move off the back of the lineout, the second came from a surging midfield break by No. 8 Baird, who despite being hauled down by a fine covering tackle by No. 15 Kirk made it over the line.
Half time reflections 19 – 0 Highland at the interval, and with Baird-Chalmers off in the sinbin, Dundee would start the second half with 13 against 15 men. Dundee had showed good intensity despite being a man down, but could they do it for another 40 minutes?
On a day when all 4 second rows scored, Highland’ s No. 4, Sean Blair, was next to cross the line for Highland. But Dundee countered straight away. Fraser McKay broke, Man of the Match scrum half Danny McGinn supported well, and as the ball came loose after a high tackle, Dundee 2nd row Angus Thomson gathered the loose ball and showed good pace to go over from 22 metres out. Highland 24, Dundee 5 after 50 minutes.
Dundee were moving the ball well now, but as often happens, Highland got an interception. They looked certain to score, but full back Stuart Kirk chased hard and somehow panicked the Highland player into trying to pass when he looked over the line, and the chance went abegging.
However, Dundee were now tiring and as Henry Lapsley came on for winger Gavin Ross, Craig Shearer for the injured Sam Cardosi and Addie Weir for Thomson, 3 more tries for Highland followed in steady succession. However, with the score 43 – 5, and time running out, Dundee scored again, with possibly the try of the afternoon. Good handling led to a break down in the Highland 22. Stand-off McKay received the ball from the ruck just before the Highland tackler, and a flip pass between his legs to Finlay Ormiston on the left touchline led to the 2nd row completing a try scoring full house for the 4 second rows, with Fraser’s conversion making the final score Dundee 12, Highland 43.
Full time reflections: another hard day at the rugby office for Dundee, but we were not outclassed by a well drilled Highland side, and competed well for 70 minutes when a man short.
The Thorntons Dundee Man of the Match was scrum half Danny McGinn.
Dundee team 15 Stuart Kirk 14 Gav Ross 13 Duncan McIntyre 12 Rory McGinn 11 Cailean Baird-Chalmers 10 Fraser McKay 9 Danny McGinn 1 Josh Mark 2 Ceillem Stewart 3 James Shellard 4 Angus Thomson 5 Finlay Ormiston 6 Dillon Sedge 7 Sam Cardosi 8 Kevin Franco
Replacements 16 Addie Weir 17 Craig Henderson 18 Craig Shearer 19 Henry Lapslie 20 Chris Paton