Dumfries Saints 34 – 7 Edinburgh University
Saturday’s sunshine saw Dumfries Saints playing an Edinburgh University side who had a made a reasonable start to their season. The Saints started off with the wind behind them and both sides immediately gave the crowd value for money as they moved the ball about at a frantic pace.
The doonhamers got off the mark first with an early Tom Hiddleston penalty. The visitors tried to build some pressure but the Saints defence held firm and after 10 minutes Kenny Henderson relieved the pressure with a smooth interception to run 70 yards for the try. The Saints were 10-0 up but before they could settle a midfield mistake spilled the ball, the fly hack sent them backwards and the Uni winger won the race to score in the corner, an excellent conversion closed the gap to 10-7.
Within 5 minutes however order was restored, after some Saints pressure a long clearing kick fell straight to Jamie Little, he set off to where the defence looked weakest before releasing speedy Johnnie Sloan to round the defence and score. Saints now had their tails up and had the visitors reeling. Alec Bryden was looking sound on his return to the team and in the forwards youngsters Gareth McCall, Daniel Henderson and Ross Henderson continue to impress. As a result of sustained pressure Saints won a penalty deep in the Uni 22. Rather than take the easy points they took the scrum and an excellent move involving standoff Tom Hiddleston and inside centre Alex Bryden ripped open the defence, the interchange of passes resulted in a score for Hiddleston.
With 20 minutes gone Saints were in control when disaster struck, young scrum half Finlay Miller was caught in a tackle damaging his ankle and had to come off. Experienced Alec Bryden went into that position with Angus Lean coming off the bench. It took a while to settle things down again but another loose clearance showed the visitors had not learned the lesson and Johnnie Sloan returned with interest again to score another try. The visitors were now on the ropes and to rub salt in the wound Hiddleston kicked a penalty from his own half! Half time and it was 34-7.
The second half saw Saints playing into the wind. It was a scrappy start with the Uni trying to use the wind to get back into it and Saints working their way up field keeping it tight only to make a mistake or try to open it out too adventurously. Any loose ball was kicked long down field.
Here were some good passages of play from the Saints with Sam Hiddleston making a few telling breaks but the support always seemed to not quite be there quick enough to keep things going. The University did enjoy a spell camped deep in the Saints 22 but some spirited defence kepe them out.
The half played out with no scores at all. If the Saints are to take any lessons from that it would be that they need to keep their composure and shape and not get to excited! There were times when a cooler head would have retained possession and allowed them to build an attack rather than loose possession cheaply. Having said that there was some excellent entertaining rugby and the crowd went home happy! Four games down, unbeaten and in second place on points difference, can’t be bad.
Team; G McCall, S MacKinnon, R Dunlop, B Stanley, D Henderon, S Wight, R Henderson, J Little, F Miller, T Hiddleston, R Steele, A Bryden, K Henderson, J Sloan, S Hiddleston. Subs all used, R Haggarty, D Crichton, A Lean.