Dumfries Saints 24 Highland RFC 5
In cold wet conditions these two promotion contenders were keen to get a more conclusive result than the narrow 13 to 12 home win in Inverness back in October. That was also a cold wet day and the Highland forwards had tested the Dumfries discipline into receiving two yellow cards. This was a day for discipline and determination from the young Saints who have come a long way since October.
It was obvious from the start that both teams wanted the points to keep their promotion chances alive. Highland contested the set pieces disrupting Saints possession. But in the loose it was Saints who had control their solid defence demonstrating why they have the least points scored against them in the whole of the National Leagues.
The opening score came after 15 minutes with Highland back trying to run out of their 22 taking a hefty tackle from Jack Steele and spilling the ball, with great football skills Jack kicked ahead chased and scored. The conversion was missed.
After 30 minutes Saints got another through the forwards pressurising Highland in their own half and forcing a weak clearance fielded near the touchline by Jordan Kerr and spun wide to Kenny Henderson who ran round the first line of defence down the far wing with Sam Hiddleston and Andrew Whiteford following up, passing to Sam in space who drew the final defender for Andrew Whiteford to sprint to the line.
From a lineout inside the Highland 22 Saints went through 20 phases demonstrating great ball retention and patience wearing down the disciplined Highland defence until Sam Hiddleston spun out of a tackle to barge over, Jordan Kerr converted and they went into half time with Saints leading 17 nil.
As expected Highland started the 2nd half strong putting Saints line under pressure but the confidence and competence of the Saints defence held out with stand off Jordan Kerr, scrum half Jack Johnstone and replacement scrum half Alan Birdsall clearing their lines and finding touch when required. The big Highlanders started to run out of steam Saints and struck again with a terrific try started on near the touchline on halfway by Sam Hiddleston who carried into the Highland 22 before kicking ahead and infield for john Carlisle to run onto and score near the posts for Jordan Kerr to convert.
When Highland centre Findlater did eventually score a consolation unconverted try it was not grudged by the spectators who had enjoyed a fantastic display of rugby by both squads.
This 5 point win keeps the top four clubs within 5 points of each other with 4th place Saints having a game in hand to keep them in contentions for one of the two promotion places.
Squad: Scott Goodwin, Zeke Dyson ( C ), Devon MacDonald, Michael Thompson, Michael Badenhorst, Ryan Cruickshank, Jamie Graham, Ali Jackson, Jack Johnstone, Jordan Kerr, Andrew Whiteford, John Carlisle, Jack Steele, Kenny Henderson, Sam Hiddleston, Blair Milligan, Paddy Coupar, Alan Birdsall, Andrew Wilson.
All in all it was a great day for Dumfries Rugby Club with the 2nd XV beating Hamilton 3rd XV 88 nil in the West Reserve League Division 1 and the Colts beating Marr 12 : 22 in the West U18 Cup to progress to a semi-final away to Hamilton U18’s on 4th March.
This weekend sees the visit of our Welsh friends from Seven Sisters Rugby Club in Neath, West Glamorgan. The traditional game will be played on Friday afternoon, 3.30 kick off, followed by a social evening in the clubhouse. On Saturday the clubhouse will open at noon for the Scotland v Wales game kicking off at 2.25pm on the 3 clubhouse TV’s.
On Saturday 4th March Saints are away to Orkney for a league game.