Saints Fight Back For Victory!
Dumfries Saints 16 Langholm 15
To try and beat the weather that has postponed so many fixtures this season, that the SRU will soon be tossing a coin to decide who progresses in the national cup, Saints and Langholm switched their game from snowbound Milntown to Park Farm. It was a second versus third place clash with Saints desperate to win and stretch their lead while Langholm wanted a win to pile the pressure on Saints and try and close the gap.
Because of the late switch in venue and clash with the international in Paris a smaller than usual crowd saw Saints receive the kick off and immediately fumble as the red devils tore into them. This set the tone with Saints making far too many mistakes and being bullied at the breakdown by a Langholm side who looked far hungrier and more streetwise. After only five minutes a long kick downfield for the visitors was sloppily dealt with by Saints and put full back Rory Steele under pressure, the ball wasn’t cleared and the visitors turned over the ball and moved it into midfield where their loose head prop charged through two poor tackles to score under the posts.
The Saints were rattled and looked very nervous as seemed unable to cut out the mistakes and retain possession. Keith Davidson at stand off for Langholm was running the show and they were unlucky not to go further ahead when a penalty was dragged wide. It took Saints twenty minutes to get into the visitors half and they were still making too many mistakes . Fortunately the Langholm pack had come out breathing fire, but were struggling to maintain and control it as indiscipline at the break down cost them dearly and allowed Saints back into it. The ref finally issued a yellow card after several warnings and Rory Steel kicked the penalty to get Saints on the board.
Just when it looked like Saints were going to weather their rough patch another excellent Davidson kick downfield put them in all sorts of bother near their own line. Saints standoff Alex Bryden dived in to rescue the ball but did so illegally and also received a yellow card. To make matters worse for Saints, Langholm took the short penalty and after two surges drove over to score a try. Saints did manage to get downfield before the break but when they had the chance to move ball wide against front row forwards they kept it tight and when the Langholm backs were all present and correct they tried to run it! Poor decision making was proving costly and half time came with the Saints 12-3 down.
The half times words of magic from coaches McGaughie and MacKinnon worked their magic as the Saints came out of the blocks at speed in the second half. Within a minute they had driven down the left and then moved it right at speed. Clanachan punched a hole and the ball was taken on by Steele only to be stopped just short. The Saints pack had regained their composure though and recycled to drive prop Roy Dunlop over for a try. A great start to the fight back but within minutes Saints had conceded a soft penalty at the ruck and Langholm stretched out to a 15-8 lead.
It was now all Saints as they chased the game. Langholm lived off Saints mistakes and their lively backs needed no second invitation to counter attack. The game was now finely balanced but the longer it went on the more the superior fitness of the Saints forwards showed through with Ali Mather and Kenny Brown putting in a power of work. Saints caught a line out 30 yards out and drove through the forwards, as Langholm tried to collapse the driving maul Kenny Brown broke off the side and punched a hole through the defence, the ball came back quickly and scrum half Finlay Miller darted through for the try. Again the conversion was missed and Saints still trailed by two points.
A crucial moment of indiscipline cost Langholm again with only ten minutes to go. A late shoulder into full back Steele after he had put up the high ball resulted in a penalty where the ball landed. Fortunately it was a monster kick and the young full back picked himself up to kick the three points and put the Saints in front. As if to prolong the agony for their support Saints then conceded another kickable penalty almost straight from the kick off! To great relief the kick sailed wide and Saints got back on the offensive for the last ten minutes. Winger Andrew Whiteford almost made it for a try in the corner but the home touch judge spotted a foot out of play and didn’t need a video ref to disallow it! Full time came with Saints in front but only just, 16-15.
Director of Rugby Russell Marchant said “we gave a very poor first half display, showing the lack of experience of many of our young side. However they showed they have character and guts with that second half performance and they will have learned from this match for the return game in March!”.
Team; R Dunlop, K Geddes, G McCall, A Mather, J Currie, J Little, K Brown, S Clanachan, F Miller, A Bryden, J Farquhar, M Richardson, K Henderson, A Whiteford, R Steele. Subs all used E Sloan, B Stanley and A Birdsall.
Ali Mather and Stuart Clanachan wrestle for possession
Finley Miller scores under those bodies!
Kenny Henderson tries to break free with Murray Richardson in support
Murray Richardson takes off with Rory Steele and Jamie Farquhar outside him
Rory Steele breaks with Andrew Whiteford in support
Rory Steele sees the gap
Saints drive on
Saints fight for the ball
Stuart Clanachan hands off with Kenny Brown in support