Dumfries Saints 49 Dalziel 3
This was an encounter Dumfries had been looking forward to since last November when Dalziel narrowly defeated them at Park Farm 10 : 12. Having taken the away tie 23 : 39 in September and now sitting 3rd from top below Lasswade and Highland with Dalziel sitting 9th in the league an excellent performance was expected to secure a home win against a team that has always caused Saints problems.
The first 10 minutes was played at a very fast pace with Dumfries in control of much of the possession and playing mainly in the Dalziel half. It was apparent Dalziel had some big powerful runners but were going to struggle with the pace dictated by the Saints. First score to Dumfries was from a penalty ably kicked by scum half Alan Birdsall. Lineouts are turning into a strength for the Dumfries side with thrower Zeke Dyson have 3 excellent targets in Michael Thomson, Michael Badenhurst and Jamie Graham and their rearranged front row was coping well in the scrum with absence of Scott Goodwin at tighthead.
It was from a scrum near halfway wide on the right that good clean ball was popped to Sam Hiddleston entering the line at pace from full back and breaking the defence, an inside pass to winger Andew Whiteford who shadowed his run and inside again to second row Michael Thompson who drew the last few tacklers before offloading to centre John Carlisle to score out wide. The conversion was missed and the score was 8 : 0.
At the other end of the field Dalziel kicked a penalty to draw it back to 8 : 3 and minutes later another to Dumfries took it to 11 : 3. The referee did some stern talking to both captains about the number of penalties and made it clear that he would send players to the bin for persistent offences. Saints having had 3 players binned in the duration of last week’s win at RHC realised they could not afford to do the same against a very dangerous Dalziel team.
Another timely intervention into the line from full back Sam Hiddleston following a deep pass from stand off Jordan Kerr saw his trademark breaking of tackles, 3 in total, to storm over for a try converted by Alan Birdsall. Sure enough Dalziel did not have the fitness levels to cope with the pace and Dumfries dominated every phase in the final minutes of the 1st half with a great push from 5 metre scrum and pick up and dive over by number 8 and captain for the day Paddy Coupar converted by Alan Birdsall. Half time score Saints 25 Dalziel 3.
The half time rest and coaches talk energised the Dalziel team and the 1st 15 minutes of the second saw was relentless power and pressure from them and outstanding defence from the fitter and faster Saints. As the Dalziel team tired they were turned over in the Saints 22 Sam Hiddleston had a great run out of defence then kicked long and chased, caught his retreating opposite number in possession and turned him over. Unfortunately the supporting Saints knocked on the pop pass but from a scrum 6 metres out pushed against the head for number 8 Paddy Coupar to touch down over the line. The conversion was missed but the 4 try bonus point was won.
A tired Dalziel side gave up another turnover in the Saints 22 this one was kicked and chased by Michael Badenhurst who caught the Dalziel full back in possession and forced a penaty about 10 yards out. Saints opted for the scrum and a clean pick up by Paddy Coupar went on the narrow side through the hands of standoff Jordan Kerr and replacement full back Kenny Henderson very quickly to put winger Andrew Whiteford over in the corner. The conversion was missed and the score was 35 : 3.
Starting from a scrum on the Saints 10 metre line replacement full back Kenny Henderson ran the ball out and after some terrific inter-passing and support running with the Saints backs it was Kenny who finished the move under the posts which was converted by Alan Birdsall.
The final try followed what was becoming a familiar pattern, a perfectly delayed pass from Jordan Kerr held up the Dalziel defence for Kenny Henderson to break through at speed from full back with the move finished off under the posts by second row Michael Badenhurst for Alan Birdsall to convert.
Final score Saints 49 Dalziel 3 and just to show no one should take any game for granted in this league news was welcomed that Haddington had beat Highland in Inverness and Accies had beaten Lasswade in Glasgow putting Saints back on top of the league 2 points above St Boswells.
During the Christmas break the Saints will keep match ready with a friendly against Annan and the next league game is at home to Greenock Wanderers on 7th January.
Squad: Craig Goldie, Zeke Dyson, Devon MacDonald, Michael Thompson, Michael Badenhurst, Jamie Graham, Ryan Cruikshank, Paddy Coupar, Alan Birdsall, Jordan Kerr, Jack Johnstone, John Carlisle, Jack Steele, Andrew Whiteford, Sam Hiddleston, Euan Mack, Blair Milligan, Ali Jackson and Kenny Henderson.