Carnage at Cartha!
Cartha Queens Park 57 Dumfries Saints 40
The sun came out in Glasgow as this game kicked off but there were black clouds in the Saints camp by the finish. Both defences were posted missing and at times it looked like tackling was optional. Unfortunately for Saints their hosts didn’t relax to the same extent as they did until the game was won. The frustration was that this was another game that 80 minutes concentration could have won for the Saints.
Cartha scored an early penalty and poor early decisions were putting Saints under early pressure. They paid the price when Cartha gratefully accepted a dropped ball in the midfield, hacking on and winning a scrum from which they got a straightforward touchdown, five minutes gone and 8-0 down. Saints went on the attack, winning line out ball and almost breaking through before spilling the ball. Again Cartha came straight back and when the Saints defensive line went awry they waltzed in for another easy score. Tom Hiddleston kicked a quick penalty to get Saints on the board but within minutes Saints had conceded a penalty try from a scrum five yards out. The kick capped a dreadful quarter for Saints who found themselves 20-3 down.
The coaches made substitutions and Saints started to claw their way back into the game. A Sam Hiddleston break almost got through but was illegally stopped and brother Tom kicked the penalty. From the restart Michael Scott and Jamie Little broke back deep into the Cartha half for another penalty to be awarded at the breakdown, Tom Hiddleston again converted. Saints kept up the momentum and when they were awarded a penalty on the 22 Steve Mackinnon took the quick tap, Daniel Henderson led the second drive before Bootsie MacMillan borrowed over for the try. Tom Hiddleston converted and miraculously Saints were back in it at 20-16.
Unfortunately concentration dropped and in a slack five minutes before half time Saints conceded two penalties, turning around 26-16 down. At this point Saints needed to maintain the improvement, give nothing away and apply some pressure, within minutes of the restart that idea was blown.
Saints started the half on the attack but when they worked the two on one with the try line begging the pass was intercepted and Cartha scored from their own 22. It was now a mountain to climb and to make matters worse on the next Cartha attack tackles were missed and too much ball watching allowed another score, it was now 40-16. Saints proceeded to lose a midfield scrum against the head and slack midfield defence allowed another score. As if this implosion wasn’t bad enough an attempt to chip the last defender into space was gratefully intercepted by the Cartha winger who ran in from 50 yards for the clincher. So much for giving away nothing! After another nightmare quarter Saints were 54-16 down.
Possibly the only positive from the game was the way that Saints rallied in the last quarter, there should be no illusions however that Cartha didn’t slacken off with the game won but Saints at least showed what they were capable of.
Saints raised the pace and cut out the handling errors and risky attempts to offload. Allied to this the scrum started to dominate and provide the platform needed.
Jamie Farquhar took his opportunity well to score the first try of the fight back, followed immediately by a Cartha penalty kick. Saints undeterred kept up the pressure and Captain Jamie Little got a well deserved try battering his way through from the 22. Saints were now chasing the crucial fourth try to secure a bonus point. Kenny Henderson almost made it with a 60 metre break. It at least set up a series of scrums close to the host’s line, after one thwarted push over attempt on the reset Stuart Clanachan picked up and drove over for the crucial try. The Saints were now in full flow and within minutes winger Johnnie Sloan got another in the corner. Final score 57-40.
A frustrating afternoon for coaches and supporters. Saints need to tighten up and mature as a team if they are to avoid getting sucked into a relegation dogfight. They have the ability to do far better but need the concentration and commitment.
Team; K Geddes, R Henderson, S MacKinnon, D Henderson, A Mather, J Little (Capt), C Thomson, M Scott, A Watson, T Hiddleston, J Sloan, S Hiddleston, K Henderson, J Farquhar, R Steele. Subs all used; G McCall, R MacMillan, S Clanachan, A Bryden.
Aaron Watson attacks and looks for support
Jamie Farquhar rounds the last defender on his way to scoring
Jamie Little sets off for the line
Johnnie Sloan rounds the defence to score in the corner
Sam Hiddleston breaks through with support
Stuart Clanachan drives over to score
For directions to Cartha QP ground click here