Scottish 2nd XV League – West 1
Dumfries Saints 55 – Lenzie 3
On a beautiful but breezy early autumn day perfect for running rugby, Saints welcomed their East Dunbartonshire rivals to Park Farm.
With a couple of senior players unavailable because of family weddings, Saints fielded a changed lineup and they saw the welcome return of Kenny Brown from long-term injury alongside another injury victim, Blair Milligan. To complete a totally revamped front row Roy Dunlop made his first appearance of the season. In the boiler house, Stuart Kennedy packed down alongside Will Greene.
In the back row the grafter Dougie Crichton, and the mercurial Ulsterman Mark McClatchey were bound together by the influential Aussie Clinton Freebody to form an abrasive and highly effective break away trio. This highly mobile forward unit totally dominated the line-outs, set scrum and breakdown situations to give the Backs a solid foundation to work from.
Behind the scrum, Will Kelly returned to form an excellent halfback partnership with Stuart Burgess. The centre pairing of Captain for the day Eck Bryden and young Dominic Lewis was to prove highly effective and central to some excellent and very exciting attacking moves. The back three comprised Martin Smith, Jonnie Campion and Keith Riddick. Revelling in the quality ball the backs created plenty of chances and despite the interchanging of players and positions, looked an exciting combination in whatever format, throughout the afternoon
A very healthy subs bench comprised of Justin Little, Fraser Carson, Blair Thomson, Stevie Wight, Stevie Lethardy, Kieran Milby and Alan Birdsall who all played their part in the victory.
The early exchanges were fairly even with the big city pack trying to outmuscle the younger Saints line-up. Indeed Lenzie nearly took the lead from a penalty but this spurred Saints into action. In a ten-minute spell Saints then played some of the best rugby of the season so far as they produced a series of scintillating attacks which saw Freebody open the score fairly closely followed by an excellent Martin Smith try. The winger then set up Riddick, and despite the cross wind Burgess managed the conversion and Saints had opened up a 17-point lead. Smith added a fourth bonus point winning unconverted try soon after and the game was all but dead as a contest.
Despite this score line, Lenzie rallied and forced a Saints error and slotted the penalty for what ended up a consolation score. In the closing minutes of the half Dom Lewis, having an assured and highly influential game, rounded of an excellent Saints move which Burgess converted to leave the half time score at Saints 29 – Lenzie 3.
Half time saw the management team, swop players around to give all the squad valuable game time. This took away some of the consistency and free flow enjoyed in the first session but gave the coaches a valuable insight into the capabilities of some of the fringe players. Now playing with the breeze in their favour Saints set sail for home and three tries from Campion, Lethardy, and Little, two of which converted by Birdsall, were followed up by another counter from Kennedy who converted his own try to make the final score Saints 55 – Lenzie 3
In what was an excellent all round display this big strong Saints squad saw off a stuffy and well organised, short-handed Lenzie side that had travelled with 16 players. To their credit, they stuck in and proved very hard to break down at times. There is no doubt they will cause others in this league a problem as the season progresses.
Next weekend Saints travel to New Anniesland to take on newly promoted Glasgow Accies, which should prove a sterner task.
Martin Smith makes the break closely supported by Kenny Brown and Clinton Freebody
To view further pictures courtesy of Smithy’s big sister click Here