Scottish 2nd XV League Division 1 (West) – Lenzie 2nd XV 5 – Dumfries 2nd XV 43

On a beautiful March day and on a good dry pitch Saints 2nd string maintained their push for the league title and promotion by clinically disposing of a stuffy Lenzie team fighting for survival. Despite several call ups to the 1st XV and unavailability of key players the Saints put together a workmanlike and talented team comprising mainly youngsters complemented by a couple of old heads. The combination gelled instantly and the team spirit and support for each other was obvious from the outset.

Up front a very influential front row of Simon Robertson, Scott Carnochan and Ross Strawbridge gave the scrum a solid platform. Robertson gave a captains display by leading from the front and was instrumental in much of the team’s good driving play in the loose. Young Bobby Farish dominated the lineout and continues to improve. Farish is a young player of great potential and he has undoubtedly benefitted from some intense coaching and playing alongside player coach Ian Kerr who uncharacteristically took nearly 70 minutes before incurring the wrath of the opposition. In the back row Justin Little had his best game for some time making many of the “hard yards” in the driving rucks. He was ably supported by the experienced Dougie Crichton who also harvested good line out ball in addition to his work in the loose. No 8 John McAndrew gave the scrum half much needed protection as he returns closer to a decent fitness level and with it is showing something like his true form.

Behind the scrum the selectors gave Martin Smith a start at scrumhalf to partner Stuart Burgess who had another assured game kicking valuable points into the bargain. Richie Davidson continued his recent rich vein of form when he partnered Graeme Minty for the first time in the midfield. The back three was made up of Scott Torrance, Stevie Lethardy and Keith Riddick. Gil Leyva and Dickie McCornick made up a sparse replacements bench.

It took only five minutes for Saints to open the scoring when Burgess punished a Lenzie indiscretion by calmly slotting a penalty. The game then descended into a stalemate with the home side defending from depth and frustrating the Saints particularly at the breakdown. Through this tactic the visitors were finding it difficult to breach the Lenzie defences. On the half hour mark a wonderful passage of play saw Saints win a series of quick rucks and as the ball was spun wide prop Ross Strawbridge, was on hand to take Minty’s final pass and crash over from his favourite distance of two yards, as he completed a move practiced at training the previous Thursday, to score his first try of the season. Burgess converted to open up a ten point gap which the Saints maintained until half time.

The resumption brought some changes with Dickie McCornick replacing Lethardy in a planned substitution on the wing. A restructure of the back line saw Smith move to the centre and Minty his more accustomed role at scrum half. Ten minutes into the half and Saints increased their lead when Minty broke through to score. Five minutes later Davidson completed another training ground move to score under the posts. Burgess converted both and the Saints were now flying and chasing the much sought after bonus point. When Minty, the Vancouver velocipede, outstripped the home defence to score under the posts the bonus point was in the bag. Again Burgess converted.

Captain Simon Robertson added a further try but unfortunately Burgess narrowly missed the conversion. Some sloppy defence let Lenzie score a consolation try as the game was coming to an end. Gil Leyva came on for the injured Ross Strawbridge who left the field having played his best game of the season. Final word however came in the dying seconds from Scott Torrance who pounced on a loose ball and his kick and chase was timed to perfection as he crossed for the final try which Burgess converted to make the final score Lenzie 5 – Saints 2nd’s 43

This was a good all round display from a young and mainly inexperienced side against a streetwise Lenzie side. Saints have a break from league action next weekend but do have a friendly against Creighton in Carlisle when fringe squad members and returning players will get a chance of some much needed game time