NATIONAL YOUTH UNDER 18 CUP
Dumfries Saints 25 v Kelso Harlequins 10
Dumfries Saints entertained Kelso Harlequins at Park Farm in a quarter final tie of the Scottish National Under 18 Cup having had a very lengthy lay-off in recent months due to the poor weather whereby they had only managed to complete 2 games since the beginning of December 2010. This, therefore, was going to prove to be a major challenge to the squad who had trained valiantly throughout the lay-off period but nothing quite hones your game than the cut and thrust of matches.
Dumfries Saints played into the wind coming off Criffel in the first half and it proved to be rather a nervy opening quarter given that both teams were trying to find their feet and test out each other. Dumfries Saints were enjoying quite a lot of the possession but seemed unable to capitalise on it and remained in their own half for much of this period. Some lose kicking allowed Kelso to keep the pressure on Dumfries and some decision making showed distinct signs of the inactivity of the previous 2 months.
However, gradually Dumfries Saints settled into the game and began to take more and more control with much better ball presentation and rucking, this sustained the pressure and led to 2 fine tries, the first by Ben Johnstone and the second by the Saints Captain Euan Millar which was a try involving if not all of the team then the vast majority of the team as the ball was recycled for three-quarters of the length of the pitch in absolutely text book fashion. This was a try which any supporter would travel a long way to witness. It was ably finished off by team Captain Millar who led his troops throughout the afternoon with a courageous and disciplined performance.
After having scored these 2 tries, Dumfries Saints however rested on their laurels somewhat and allowed Kelso to build a bit of pressure which was finally rewarded with a penalty shortly before half-time. Half-time score Dumfries Saints 10 Kelso 3.
Having scored just before the half-time break, Kelso resumed the second half in determined fashion spurred on and ably controlled by their number 10. It was obvious their tactic was to stretch Dumfries Saints as wide as possible and this indeed caused some disarray in the Saints defensive line up with the team not matching up numbers wise and having to scramble defence during the early part of the second half. Indeed Kelso reaped the reward of this change in tactic and crossed the Saints line for a converted try fairly early on in the second half, the score was therefore now 10 points a piece and it certainly looked at this stage that Kelso were beginning to come into the ascendancy.
However, much to the credit of Dumfries Saints and indeed to the credit of the whole squad which has worked tirelessly and consistently throughout the enforced winter break, the team began to reassert itself and exercise control over possession and keep Kelso at bay.
The Coaches can be pleased with the way the team retained possession and recycled the ball with strong running from Neil Armstrong and Ben Johnstone in the centre and some clinical finishing out wide which resulted in Taylor Hyslop scoring 2 well executed tries in the second half. Jordan Kerr converted one and added a penalty making the final score 25 – 10 for Saints which puts them through to the Youth Cup semi final where they will play a high flying team from Stirling County.
The whole squad deserves great credit for this performance not just those who took part in the match but all of the replacements and additional members of the squad who were in attendance. Whilst it is not possible for everyone to take to the field, the result only came about because of the contribution made by each member of the squad for which you can all take great credit.
All in all a very satisfying performance from Dumfries Saints but they will have to raise their game a further couple of notches when they travel to meet Stirling County this Saturday.
Victorious Colts Squad