Falkirk 27 Dumfries Saints 14
Dumfries travelled to second placed Falkirk keen to build on five successive wins and get in amongst the top three sides sitting above them in the league. The pitch was in good nick considering the weather and Saints kicked off into the slight wind.
Saints started well and had early pressure. A pattern soon emerged as whenever Saints broke in behind the Falkirk line penalties were conceded rather than quick ball. Tom Hiddleston had an early kick at goal but the wind defeated him. The line outs were finely balanced with Ali Mather doing a good job for Saints.
Falkirk launched their first real attack from a catch and drive at a lineout, this pressure led to a scrum under the posts, a forward pass seemed to have let Saints off the hook but their clearance kick from the resulting scrum was charged down. Saints withstood the pressure but conceded a penalty for the line being offside, Falkirk kicked an easy three points.
Saints responded well and went back on the attack, soon getting their reward when Tom Hiddleston launched a high kick, Rory Steele followed up and took the catch, Villimony Satala and Alex Bryden kept the move going before the inevitable penalty was conceded by Falkirk. Tom Hiddleston kicked for 3-3. As the first quarter passed it was a very tight game, both sides were probing and looking sharp.
The question was who would crack first and unfortunately after 25 minutes it was the Saints. Falkirk moved first phase ball rapidly wide and the when the tackle was missed the winger kicked ahead. Wing forward Malcolm Fairweather seemed to get to the ball at the same time at the Falkirk attacker but the ref gave the try despite Malcolm coming up with the ball.
To make matters worse soon after another missed tackle in centre field let Falkirk through and this experienced side demonstrated how to take chances as they recycled quickly for the score. Saints didn’t give up however and Ross MacMillan, on at prop for the injured Gareth McCall, made a great thirty yard burst to gain another penalty, this time Tom Hiddleston made the kick. From the kick off Tom chipped the on rushing defence, gathered the ball and with a bit of luck if the pass had stuck Saints would have been in for a try.
Half time and Saints were 15-6 down but had certainly showed they could take something from this match if they cut out the mistakes. Saints started well but within minutes had inexplicably let another soft break go straight through midfield to go 20-6 behind and leave themselves a mountain to climb.
Saints now mounted some serious pressure. Tom Hiddleston was controlling and kicking well to the corners, Malcolm Fairweather and Rory Steel both had breaks that nearly led to tries. Penalties were kicked to the corner for five yard line outs but despite umpteen penalties Saints couldn’t get over the line, eventually they settled for three points.
It was now all Saints as Falkirk soaked up the pressure. However with 15 minutes to go they again showed their class, a turn over ball was quickly hacked down field and a lucky bounce put their man in the clear for the clinching try and conversion. Saints didn’t give up and immediately returned to the attack. Again they received penalties galore but by now needed tries. With the clock running down line out ball went wide where Kenny Henderson cut through to score a try.
Saints returned to attack and Falkirk’s MacKenzie received a belated yellow card but the score board remained untroubled. This was a disappointing performance from the Saints despite an impressive performance from the pack the side made simple mistakes that an experienced Falkirk side punished them for. Arguably some of Falkirk’s experience may have bordered on cynical but have no doubt the better side on the day won. Let us hope the lessons are taken on board for the next two weeks!
Team; G McCall, R Henderson, S Cockburn, A Mather, D Henderson, J Little, M Fairweather, M Scott, W Duncan, T Hiddleston, K Henderson, A Bryden, V Satala, J Farquhar, R Steele. Subs all used; K Geddes, R MacMillan, S Renwick and M McClatchey.
Daniel Henderson almost gets away
Ross Henderson drives forward
Ross MacMillan spots the gap
Daniel Henderson charges with Malcolm Fairweather in support
Villimony Satala makes a half break