Saints Cup Run Continues
Forresters 7 Dumfries Saints 45
Conditions could not have been poorer for Saints latest cup game in Edinburgh. The wind and rain howled down the narrow pitch. Saints had the elements in the first half and started with a much changed side. Sickness and injuries prevented several experienced players from participating and even on the day the subs bench contained two players the coaches considered unfit to start!
Amongst the forwards Steve MacKinnon started in the front row, youngster Adam Taylor in the second row and the versatile Doc Satala in the back row. The backs were even more disrupted with the wanderer Tom Hiddleston returning in the centre with brother Sam, and Alan Birdsall appearing on the wing.
Tom Hiddleston soon got on the score board with an early penalty. The conditions and narrow pitch definitely didn´t suit Saints game plan or high tempo style. Too often they tried to do too much too soon and often tried to keep the ball alive in contact when it wasn´t on, which led to a number of unforced errors. It took them 20 minutes to realise the space was limited and a more direct approach was what was needed. Jamie Little, Roy Dunlop and Keith Geddes made regular yards as they took the direct approach to Forrester. The scrum dominated against a big Forrester pack as did the lineout. With the forwards playing well and driving effectively, an early burst led to the first try as scrum half Russell Weir got the ball away quickly from the breakdown to allow standoff Alex Bryden to put captain, and number 8 for the day, Jamie Little through the gap to score from 5 metres. Saints kept up the pressure as Forresters were forced to clear the ball over their own dead ball line. From the scrum five Jamie Little picked and went, drawing in the defence before off loading to Doc Satala who went through to score. Another penalty and two conversions saw Saints 20-0 up at half time.
The Saints turned around to face the elements in the second half. Coach Shaun McGauchie had stressed the need to straighten up in attack on this narrow pitch and the improvement was soon apparent. The strong wind helped focus minds on tightening up their work and the Saints pack soon had the bit between the teeth again. The forwards dominated play as in the first half, running straight and hard between the standoff and centre. With the forwards on top, making plenty of yards and the scrum rock solid it was only going to be a matter of time before more points arrived.
Jamie Little started the second half scoring when the home side were once again forced to touch down in goal and concede a five yard scrum. Jamie picked up and drove over to score. The next try was the pick of the bunch with Forrester attacking deep in Saints territory their flanker was tackled and turned over by Little, he set off up field and fed Doc Satala once stopped. The Fijian beat a few defenders before releasing Rory Steele into space, he drew almost all the remaining defence before passing to Jamie Farquhar who beat the last man before scoring.
Tom Hiddleston got the next one when Forrester fluffed clearance kick, the ball fell into his hands and he ran in from 10m out using all the energy he had left! The last try of the game came when Alex Bryden made a break, passed inside to Ross Henderson who lost control of it, fortunately it fell to Jamie Little who picked it up, handed off a couple of defenders and scored the try for his hat-trick. Along the way Tom Hiddleston had kicked another penalty and conversion.
Given the numerous changes in personnel and positions this was a good result for Dumfries. The forwards led the way in difficult conditions and the backs improved as they settled into the changed line up. The rugby on display was not always pretty, the conditions didn’t allow for that, but it was effective. Scrum half Russell Weir demonstrated his class throughout and Doc Satala had an excellent game in the back row linking well with the backs in difficult conditions. It was a welcome sight to see two Hiddleston brothers back in the side although they were both looking for oxygen by the time the final whistle went!
Team; S MacKinnon, K Geddes, R Dunlop, A Taylor, A Mather, J Currie, D Satala, J Little, R Weir, A Bryden, J Farquhar, S Hiddleston, T Hiddleston, A Birdsall, R Steele. Subs used E Sloan, R Henderson, unused W Duncan and K Henderson.