1st XV v Biggar 30.9.17

Biggar 26    Dumfries Saints 29

Despite Hartree Mill  being a regular venue for pre-season friendlies, this eagerly awaited fixture was the first league game between the two clubs for a lot of years. The opening score went to Saints after pinning Biggar inside their 22 from a penalty kick a spilled ball was picked up by Ali Jackson, taken forward by Rory Steele and Scott Goodwin then finished off under the posts by Sam Hiddleston. The conversion by John Carlisle took the score to 0 : 7.

Within minutes Saints were awarded a penalty on the 22 at the touchline for player not releasing Zeke Dyson after a break out of defence from a Paddy Coupar turnover but the kick went wide. Rory Steele and Sam Hiddleston broke down the right and came close but the final pass went astray. Then another penalty on the 22 rebounded of the post for Biggar to clear.  But Saints were getting their share of the breaks when Biggar centres spilled a ball on half way and Kenny Henderson hacked ahead and chased it down to pick up and score. John Carlisle made the conversion and it was 0 : 14.

From a lineout just outside the Biggar 5 metre line  the defence opened up to give Sam Hiddleston his second try under the posts and another conversion from John Carlisle, 0 : 21. From a penalty in front of the posts John Carlisle made it 0 : 24.

In a similar position at the other end Biggar turned down a kick at the posts in favour of a scrum and after several recycles got it to their winger to score in the corner. The conversion was missed and the teams went into half time 5 : 24.

From a turnover in the Biggar half Saints kept possession and pressure until Rory Steele found a gap to score out wide, the conversion was missed. 5 : 29.

With 30 minutes still on the clock what the Saints did not realise was that what had been a fairly lacklustre Biggar side had several more gears they could move up through. Their big centre crashed over for a well taken try then crawled over while tackled by several players for a dubious one, both were converted taking the score to 19 : 29. The Biggar blood was up and Saints were in a game.

Tackle after tackle Saints kept them out when an unfortunate clash of heads between prop Gareth McCall and former Saints Colt now Biggar blind side flanker Callum Braid resulted in both players having to leave the field.

The speed and intensity of the last 5 minutes were a testament to the fitness of both squads and a darting run by the Biggar open side flanker gave them another try and conversion, 26 : 29.. Saints were defending with everything they had, Biggar were being roared on by their home crowd and with two minutes on the clock Biggar were awarded a penalty on the 22 in front of the posts.

An on-field debate took place reminiscent of the previous week at Park Farm, should they take the points, draw the game and hope to defend the final minutes, kick to corner and go for a catch and drive? The home side opted for a scrum and another attack, Saints were not going to let in another and defended out final minutes.

For the final 30 minutes Biggar had shown why they are  a National 2 side but for 80 minutes Saints showed why they are top of the league with 5 wins from 5 games.

Every game in this league is a big one but next week at home Saints welcome Hamilton who have won 4 and lost one but real ambitions for promotion. It promises to be a cracker of game.

Squad: Gareth McCall, Zeke Dyson, Scott Goodwin, Tom Martin, Michael Thomson, Ali Jackson, James Thompson, Finlay Miller, Gavin Wilson, Paddy Coupar, Dougie Boyd, Jack Steele (Capt.), Alan Birdsall, Jordan Kerr, Keagan Jones, John Carlisle, Rory Steele, Kenny Henderson and Sam Hiddleston.

Saints 2nd XV also had an away win beating Dalziel 8 : 50, they also face Hamilton at Park Farm on Saturday, 3pm kick off.

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