1st XV v Hamilton 7.10.17

Hamilton relegated from National 1 and Dumfries promoted from National 3, the two teams were coming from different experience levels.

Saints had the first scoring chance following a line break, kick ahead and chase, but Hamilton successfully defended two 5 metre scrums and a few driving runs.

Next opportunity was to Hamilton when their 10 missed a penalty. But another line break and kick ahead from inside the Saints half was picked up by a chasing Finlay Miller who took it to the Hamilton before being stopped but quick recycling got the ball to Jordan Kerr who drove over for a try. The conversion was missed and it was 5 nil.

Hamilton played simple accurate rugby and seemed very composed and patient on the ball. They parked themselves in the Saints 22 and were rewarded by a well taken try by their hooker. The conversion was good and it was 7 : 5 and this was looking like the best opposition Saints had played this season.

Hamilton had a penalty bounce off the upright and be cleared by Saints. Having lost Paddy Coupar to injury earlier a clash of heads between Sam Hiddleston and the Hamilton winger ended the game for the Saints winger. The Saints defence were still reorganising when Hamilton scored and converted. 5 : 14.

Saints next attack gave them a penalty under the posts to take the score to 8 : 14 but they lost Jack Steele to injury as he joined his cousin Sam at A&E.

Then followed a bazaar incident 7 metres out from their Hamilton illegally held the ball in a ruck, clearly killing the ball in the red zone to deny Saints a scoring opportunity. Saints scrum half Jack Johnstone appealed to the referee who held his hand up indicating a penalty to Dumfries but the Hamilton played continued to prevent the release of the ball, Jack appealed again and the referee continued to hold up his hand but did not blow the whistle. Jack attempted to dislodge the ball with his foot and this time the referee did blow up sinbinned Jack Johnstone and awarded the penalty to Hamilton. For 14 man Saints half time could not come quick enough.

Hamilton pressed their extra man advantage in the start of the second half and scored another simple but unconverted try with patient, accurate rugby.

Restored to 15 Saints held position in the Hamilton 22 moving play from touchline to touchline but all credit to the Hamilton defence they refused to be drawn out of shape.

A kick out of defence was chased to the Saints line by the Hamilton left wing but the referee was so far behind the play he did not see the grounding and awarded Hamilton a 5 metre scrum. Once here Hamilton were not going to relinquish territory easily but Saints managed to clear their line.

Hamilton were awarded a scrum from what appeared to be a Saints knock on but some talk from the Saints players led to the referee changing to a penalty which took the score to 8 : 22.

Up the other end Saints pressured the Hamilton line and a Hamilton player was binned for an illegal tackle. From the penalty under the posts a simple ball out wide put Keagan Jones over in the corner, the conversion was missed. 15 : 22.

More simple, accurate, patient rugby from Hamilton and the scored and converted again. 15 : 29.

Saints kept at them and from the restart pinned Hamilton on their 22 and were rewarded by a try out wide by Keagan Jones. John Carlisle may have wished Keagan had taken it behind the posts as the touchline conversion bounced off the upright to go wide. 20 : 29

Saints were awarded one more penalty chance to get within 7 points for losing bonus but the kick went wide.

This had been an evenly contested game against quality opposition, Saints had their chances and should be proud to have stayed in contention till the end, but it was 17 home games ago back in November 2015 when they last lost at Park Farm and that was hard for the players to take.

Next week they have to rally themselves and travel to old rivals Howe of Fife with potentially 3 regular players missing. A challenge they will all be looking forward to.

Squad; Tom Martin, Zeke Dyson, Gareth McCall, Scott Goodwin, , Sean Graham, Michael Thompson, Will Greene, Finlay Miller, Gavin Wilson, Paddy Coupar, Ali Jackson, Jack Johnstone, Jordan Kerr, Keagan Jones, Ian Carlisle, John Carlisle, Jack Steele (Capt), Sam Hiddleston and Rory Steele.


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