1st XV v GHK 29.09.18

Dumfries Saints 41   Glasgow High Kelvinside 17

It was back to winning ways for Saints after disappointment on the road. Ground conditions were excellent but there was a strong breeze coming from the direction of Criffell. GHK had the wind in their back in the 1st half but the first score went to Saints with a well kicked penalty into the wind by John Carlisle.

From the long restart Ewan Miller ran the ball from his own try line out of defence and fed second row David Andrew the big fellow made it all the way to the GHK 5 metre line before he was caught. The ball was spun wide but a forward pass prevented the try. Kicking with the wind made it easy for GHK to pin Saints back into their own half and after 10 minutes of sustained pressure in the Saints 22 they were awarded a penalty to level the score.

Saints enjoyed some possession in the GHK half and when GHK tried to run the ball out of defence rather than using the wind a knock on advantage was picked up by Ewan Miller and fed to Gavin Wilson to score the opening try. John Carlisle converted taking the score to 10 : 3. Saints maintained the pressure in the GHK half a gained a penalty for John Carlisle to add another 3 points.

Saints started the second quarter dominating possession and territory, after some impressive ball retention and building phases Saints number 8 Callum Smith drove over at the posts and John Carlisle converted, 20 : 3.

Saints put themselves under some pressure when a penalty on their 10 metre failed to find touch and the GHK reply gave them another period of sustained pressure in the Saints 22 but the defence held out till half time.

From a lineout on the Saints 10 the ball was carried into the GHK half by Callum Smith then onto Michael Yates who stretched the defence wide before popping an inside pass to Robert Douglas to score behind the posts. John Carlisle converted taking the score to 27 :3.

GHK’s were presented with several very kickable penalties but they turned down every opportunity to kick the ball in the second half, their main tactic was to scrum everything, when winning penalties at scrums they opted for more scrums. It was difficult to see what they were gaining from this tactic.  But after a series of missed tackles they did manage a try and conversion to take the score to 27 : 10.

Saints were incurring a number of penalties for a variety of infringements which seemed to require complex explanations from the referee as he delivered a series of lectures on the finer points of the breakdown. The one which led to Lee Scott being sin binned came from what looked like a text book tackle, player release with clear showing of hands, targeting the ball, staying on his feet and supporting his weight while doing so.

Saints responded with Callum Smith ripping the ball from a GHK player on the Saints 10 taking it to half way before feeding Michael Scott who drew two tacklers before offloading to Robert Douglas to run in his second try. John Carlisle converted, 34 : 10.

GHK were so averse to kicking into the wind that they when awarded a penalty halfway inside their own 22 they opted for a scrum which got them nowhere. Saints were comfortably defending the half way line with GHK unable to get out of their own half into the breeze. A spilled ball on half way was hacked forward by wing Robert Douglas then chased down for his 3rd try converted by John Carlisle, 41: 10.

After several more scrums in the dying minutes GHK were awarded a penalty just outside the Saints 22 and surprised everyone by taking a tap penalty and scoring a consolation try and conversion to finish the game 41 : 17.

This was a more even sided game than the score line would indicate with Saints defence withstanding a lot of pressure from a solid GHK team and Saints attack taking advantage of their chances with speed and precision. It also tested the Saints front rows as they will rarely have played in a game with so many scrums.

Next Saturday Saints are away to Peebles who are sitting 1 point above Saints in 4th place in the league a good travelling support could make the difference.

Squad: Tom Martin, Sean Graham, Craig Goldie, David Andrew, Lee Scott, Ryan Cruikshank, Gavin Wilson, Calum Smith, Alan Birdsall, John Carlisle, Robert Douglas, Ewan Miller, Jack Steele (Captain), Andrew Whiteford, Jack Currie, Gareth McCall, James Clyde, Michael Scott and Michael Yates.