Perthshire Thriller

Perthshire 28 Dumfries Saints 35

Perthshire had lost their last home game by a just a few points in the final minutes, Saints hadn’t earned a point away from home, something had to give! The sun was shining and the wind swirling across the park as Saints kicked off.

The match started at a high pace. Saints started well and from a mid field scrum Stuart Clanachan picked up and working with scrum half Aaron Watson created a clear chance but unfortunately the last pass was dropped. Bootsie MacMillan was leading the forward drives but Saints couldn’t break through. They paid the price when Matson the Perthshire full back kicked a long penalty for an early lead. Perthshire now had their tales up and their lively centres were causing Saints problems. From an attacking scrum they worked a move on the blindside for a try, converted by Matson for 10-0.

The Dumfries side fought to get into the game and soon Tom Hiddleston was kicking a long distance penalty to get on the board. The strong wind was encouraging both sides to hoist high balls with Perthshire having the best of the first quarter with some desperate defence from Saints. It was not enough as Perthshire finally got their reward winning a scrum in the Saints 22 and going over for another try. To make matters worse prop Steve Mackinnon had come off with a re-occurring ankle injury and soon after hooker Bootsie MacMillan had to come off with a calf injury.

Saints then enjoyed their best spell as the forwards led by Jamie Little and Michael Scott built the phases, they got over the Perthshire line but the ref decided it was held up. This was Saints best spell so far and winger Johnnie Sloan almost got away on the wing. To make matters worse Saints engineered a Murray Richardson break but the final pass to Jamie Farquhar was judged forward with the try line beckoning. Finally they got their reward when scrum half Aaron Watson took a quick penalty five yards out and jinked over for a deserved try and his first for Saints!

With five minutes to half time a blatant high tackle by Matson floored Saints prop Gareth McCall. The Perthshire man was lucky to stay on the park but amazingly got away without so much as a yellow card. McCall was unable to take any further part in the game so with just 35 minutes on the clock we had uncontested scrums. To make things worse for Saints the Perthshire centres finally got clean away for a 50 yard try. Half time and Saints were 22-10 down.

The second half started at similar high pace to the first. The sides swopped penalties as the game entered a crucial period and went from end to end. Saints showed real character, shutting down the danger men in the home back line and scrum half Watson was enjoying his best game for the Saints. Tom Hiddleston was kicking well and brother Sam took any opportunity to attack. A penalty chance was kicked to the corner and Saints didn’t panic when the break through didn’t come directly from the line out. They retained possession and went through several drives before Jamie Little got over for the try.
With the third quarter coming to an end Perthshire kicked another penalty to stretch out to a 28-20 lead. Saints were now getting top though and the pack was dominating the breakdown and the line out. Saints were retaining possession and recycling well, with Alex Bryden in the centre aggressively attacking the gain line. Perthshire were on the back foot conceding multiple penalties, just when the Saints supporters were looking for the penalty try Rory Steele on the wing put in a big hand off and squeezed over in the corner.

Saints were now just three points behind and with the clock ticking away Tom Hiddleston kicked an equalising penalty from five yards inside his own half! Not satisfied with a draw Saints went back on the attack. Perthshire had another attempt at a long range penalty but it fell short, Sam Hiddleston made the long clearance before taking a late tackle. The resultant penalty was kicked into the home side 22, from the line out Saints drove for the line, when that failed they recycled and Stuart Clanachan drove over under the posts. Perthshire tried to salvage something in the last minute but the whistle blew on a hard earned Saints win.

This was a valuable Saints win, not without cost as the entire starting front row were injured. However the side showed tremendous spirit to fight back and snack a deserved win.

Team; G McCall, R MacMillan, S MacKinnon, J Little, D Henderson, M Scott, S Renwick, S Clanachan, A Watson, T Hiddleston, J Sloan, A Bryden, M Richardson, J Farquhar, S Hiddleston. Subs all used, R Dunlop, R Henderson, D Satala, R Steele.

Alex Bryden fights for possession

Daniel Henderson looks for support from Stuart Clanachan

Roy Dunlop drives on in attack

Doc Satala takes on the defence

Michael Scott breaks away

Roy Dunlop on the charge with Michael Scott in support

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