Saints Go Fourth – Irvine 0 Dumfries Saints 15

Dumfries Saints climbed back up to fourth place in Premier 3 with this uninspired performance at bottom of the table Irvine. Watching this game was less enjoyable than watching Scotland struggle in Rome but at least the result was pleasing, any away win has to be savoured!

Irvine kicked off with a heavy weight pack that exerted pressure on the Saints scrum from the off. In one of the few bright points the Saints front row handled the pressure well refusing to be dominated by sheer size.

It was a scrappy start to the game with Saints snatching at half chances instead of imposing themselves on the game. Irvine may be on their way to National League rugby but they still showed plenty of spirit and had some capable individuals particularly in the back row allied to a speedy back three. When Saints finally managed to spin two phases together centre Murray Richardson ran a smart line to cut through the home defence, Saints recycled deep in the Irvine 22 and captain Jamie Little crashed over for the try.

If the coaches expected Saints to settle after this score they were disappointed. The side continued to kick too much possession down the throats of the Irvine back three, despite dominating the set piece they fail to impose any structure on the game and lacked composure. The ref correctly repeatedly penalised Saints for needlessly going off their feet at rucks, this didn’t help them build phases and pressure.

In the second quarter Saints tried to build pressure resulting in a high tackle on a threatening Richardson, Tom Hiddleston kicked the resultant penalty for an 8-0 lead. There was still a frantic element to Saints play and despite Irvine having a wing forward yellow carded for persistent offences they were unable to add to the score before half time.

The second half was memorable mainly for the first XV debut of Stuart Kennedy, he came into the second row and handled himself effectively in the line out and also showed up well in the loose, definitely a youngster to develop. Territorially Saints dominated the half and had several dangerous breaks but failed to find support and put a series of passes together.

Sam Hiddleston almost made the break through but the last defender caught him with Rory Steele screaming for the pass. Jamie Little almost made it in the corner and with ten minutes remaining it looked like a second score might never come. Saints did manage to recycle ball from one threatening break however and sub Kenny Henderson showed real determination to stay on his feet until Murray Richardson help drive him to the line for a stretch and plant try. Alan Birdsall kicked the conversion for a 15-0 final score.

Saints had not played for three weeks and certainly looked rusty. Perhaps it was the thought of facing bottom of the table that resulted in the lacklustre performance. Whatever it was they need to take the points, be grateful for an away win and get focussed for next weeks challenge at Howe of Fife. The Cupar side will be a much bigger challenge and will punish a performance like this.

Team; G McCall, K Geddes, S Cockburn, A Mather, A Taylor, D Henderson, S Renwick, J Little, A Birdsall, A Bryden, J Sloan, M Richardson, R Steele, S Hiddleston, T Hiddelston. Subs all used, E Sloan, R MacMillan, S Kennedy, K Henderson.

Daniel Henderson dominates the line out

Rory Steel makes a break

Saints drive on as Alan Birdsall directs

Rory Steele tries to find a way through

Scrum time as Saints face Irvine heavy weights!