GHK 17 Dumfries Saints 23
It was cold raw afternoon at Old Anniesland for this National League Cup Quarter Final. The game was played at a very fast pace and much of the outcome was to be determined by who could maintain their accuracy. After a few minutes GHK coughed up possession just inside the Saints half and Andrew Whiteford sprinted with the ball to the GHK 5 metre line before getting it to Sam Hiddleston to score the opening try. The conversion was missed 0 : 5.
GHK maintained the bulk of the possession and Saints defence was outstanding after a few hiccups in recent away games. Whatever had been said or done in training had obviously worked. GHK were using their full repertoire of moves offloading, miss passes, dummy runnners and charging forwards but Saints defence was solid.
Saints were getting some attacking opportunities and a penalty award on the 10 metre line was kicked wide of the posts at 20 minutes. This was followed by similar opportunity for GHK from which they added 3 points.
Captain Jack Steele broke through the GHK defence on the half way and sprinted to score the second try, the conversion was missed taking the score to 3 : 10. This was followed by a loose slap down from a GHK lineout on their 10 metre line being pounced on by Lee Scott, in his first game of the season following knee surgery, and quickly spun out to Sam Hiddleston who broke through the GHK defence to score a try which Alan Birdsall converted. The score remained at 3 : 17 till half time.
Both teams had given away a number of penalties in the first half and referee Tom French started using his yellow card. Gavin Wilson was the unfortunate first recipient of a 10 minute break, GHK missed the resulting penalty. They also failed to capitalise on their extra man through a combination of handling errors and solid Saints defending. They did not get a full 10 minutes advantage as their frustration overspilled following Saints giving away a penalty as GHK tried to run the ball out of their own 22. The referee gave the GHK centre a 10 minute break and reversed the penalty giving Alan Birdsall easy 3 point to take the score to 3 : 20.
GHK were pumped up and determined to finish on a high and kept possession for the bulk of the last 20 minutes. The penalty count continue to rise and from one kicked to the corner GHK scored from the lineout and converted, 10 : 20. Saints replied with a penalty of their own from Alan Birdsall to take it to 10 : 23. Then Saints were reduced to 14 men again with Mark McClatchey binned for a high tackle.
The last 10 minutes saw some excellent rugby played at a furious pace by two very fit teams. A full strength GHK were attacking and 14 Saints were defending as if their lives depended on it. The play was all inside the Saints 22 their discipline under this pressure was exemplary and it was only in injury time that GHK managed to score a try with the conversion the last kick of the game to finish 17 : 23.
Saints look forward to the Semi Final Draw on Wednesday night where the potential opposition are Kelso, St Boswells or Stewarts Melville.
Squad: Sam Hiddleston, Kenny Henderson, Jack Steele (Captain), Andrew Whiteford, Jack Johnstone, Jack Currie, Alan Birdsall, Tom Martin, Zeke Dyson, Dougie Boyd, James Clyde, Lee Scott, Ali Jackson, Paddy Coupar, Gavin Wilson, Craig Goldie, Mark McClatchey, Finlay Miller and Michael Scott.
Next Saturday sees the Saints return to League action at home against Howe of Fife. There were some catch up League games on Saturday when wins by Hamilton and Lasswade put Saints back to 4th place with all 3 teams ahead of them having a game in hand. If League hopes are to be kept alive this 3pm kick off at Park Farm will be a must win. Saints 2nd XV are also at home against East Kilbride.