Ardrossan Academicals

Before the game started all were in agreement that this was a special day at Ardrossan. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and there was only a slight breeze from the sea – conditions that in recent years were unique!

Dumfries put the home side under pressure in their 22m area from the kick-off with a number of picking and driving phases.  The big Accies pack defended well but were scarcely able to get out of their own half.  The Dumfries pack went close in the 8th minute with a good solid scrum and a blind side break but were ushered into touch on the 5m line.

Mark McClatchey went close on this forceful run with Will Greene, Ali Jackson and James Jackson in support

Ardrossan pinched the lineout ball and were able to clear their lines.  The home team was now taking more possession and took every opportunity to move the ball wide to their backs. The opening score came as the referee played advantage to Dumfries for a squint Accies line out.  As Saints spilled a pass, Ardrossan pounced on the loose ball to move it quickly along their line for the opening try in the corner. A difficult conversion into the breeze was good.  7 – 0.

Almost immediately from the restart, the home team chipped the ball into the Dumfries 22m area.  A wicked bounce saw the ball fall invitingly into an attacking player’s hands for a score in the opposite corner. Again the conversion was good and Dumfries found themselves 14 – 0 down.

Ardrossan were now taking the upper hand in the scrum with Dumfries not getting to the breakdown quickly enough. From a lineout just outside the Dumfries 22m Ardrossan worked another move off secure lineout ball to score again in the corner.  19 – 0 with 22 minutes played.

Saints then gathered themselves and took the game to the home side.  The next 10 minutes was all in the Accies half but Saints were unable to break a well-organized home defence.

It took three Accies to stop Daniel Henderson from crossing the line on this break

When Dumfries were penalized for playing the ball off the deck right in front of the referee, Ardrossan kicked to touch just outside the Dumfries 22m.   The lineout  ball was knocked-on following good challenge and from the resulting attacking scrum the ball went along the Accies line for another score in the corner.  The conversion was good, leaving Dumfries with a mountain to climb at 26 – 0.

Quite commendably, they rallied well and a minute before the break Andrew Whiteford scored in the corner after some excellent work by the forwards. The conversion was missed, leaving Saints trailing  26 – 5.  However, with Dumfries unable to secure the ball from the re-start, Accies took full advantage to score an injury time 5th try – again in the corner.  The conversion was again good, making the half time score 33 – 5.

Saints used all 4 substitutes for the second half and, together with the exit just before half time of the home side number 3, the balance of play shifted significantly to Dumfries.   Accies were finding it difficult to get out of their own half and for the best part of the opening 10 minutes were pinned in their own 22m.

Stewart Kennedy on a run with Ally Mather in support – but he was caught by the Accies defence just short of the line

Sustained Saints pressure forced the home side to knock on from a lineout on the 5m line.  The resulting scrum gave Dumfries the opportunity to keep the Accies on the back foot. After a number of phases Daniel Henderson got over the line to restore some pride. The conversion was good.   33 – 12.

The Saints forwards were now getting the upper hand but the Accies defence was up to the task.  With the Dumfries lineout now misfiring, they squandered a number of good opportunities to press home their possessional advantage.  After a good phase of play Dumfries had an excellent break down the line only to see the final ball to going behind Ross Mawdesley.  Otherwise, he would have grabbed the score that Dumfries’s play deserved.

Dumfries kept up the tempo of the game and the referee awarded a series of penalties against the home team.  Surprisingly, when a yellow card did eventually appear it was for foul play – not for the persistent penalties. The 16 minutes left on the clock was time enough for Dumfries to get at least a try bonus point. Their 3rd try came there was only 4 mins left in the game.  A 5m scrum gave an ideal platform and Daniel Henderson again went over for the Dumfries score.  The conversion was missed giving a final result of 33 – 17.

The performance in the second half gave some grounds for optimism where Dumfries scored 12 unanswered points but the slow start last week and again this week will need to be addressed all round.

The 1st  XV have another challenging game this week – at home against Falkirk RFC who are riding high at 3rd place in the league – having beaten the 2 teams above them (Cartha Queens Park and Whitecraigs RFC) in successive weeks.  Periods of Saints play in the last two weeks show that the task is not beyond them – but they will need to be at their best.   Home support can make a tremendous difference so make sure you come along to cheer them on. The game kicks-off at 3.00pm.

We have 2 games at Park Farm on Saturday 12th October.  The 2nd XV are at home – against Dundee Titans – with a 3.00pm kick-off and the 3rd XV face Annan 2nd XV away with a 3.00pm start.