East Kilbride 15 Dumfries Saints 23
Dumfries Saints revisited East Kilbride for the first time in many years to find some things don’t change, the pitch remains very heavy underfoot and the crowd are just as vocal as ever! Saints kicked off into the light wind with Captain Jamie Little back in the pack along with Bootsie MacMillan and Ross Henderson.
All the early pressure was Saints and they got their reward with an early Tom Hiddleston penalty. This was soon cancelled out after a high tackle enabled East Kilbride’s excellent kicker to match it. The game remain very disjointed as a constant stream of penalties ensured nobody generated any momentum and Kilbride veteran Fraser Stott did his best to referee the game on behalf of the official!
The home side had superiority in the scrum and used it to keep the Saints in check. Another penalty after 22 minutes pushed the home side in front. Dumfries man of the match scrum half Russell Weir sniped away around the edges of scrums and line outs keeping the home defence on their toes. A long kick downfield saw the Saints pressurise the home defence and Rory Steele got the charge down. Frustratingly the ball never appeared from the break down and the home side conceded the penalty rather than quick ball, a pattern to be repeated throughout the afternoon. On this occasion they paid a price as Tom Hiddleston levelled the score at 6 all.
Within minutes another penalty against the Saints at a line out allowed the home side to go back in front. Saints were getting bogged down and seemed unable to get the possession they needed to stretch Kilbride and play at pace. The half ended with no improvement.
The Saints started the second half brightly, Jamie Farquhar and Sam Hiddleston engineered a break and put Finlay Miller into space he made it to within five yards. Once again Saints were awarded a penalty only for it to be reversed for indiscipline. Fraser Stott showed his experience working the home side down the touchline. But Ben Stanley stole a line out ball for the Saints and they won a penalty as they drove it on. Tom Hiddleston sent a beauty of a long kick to five yards. Saints went for a catch and drive at the lineout and won a penalty. They took the scrum but despite their pressure couldn’t get over. Eventually they took a second penalty to tie the score at 9-9.
Unfortunately the game pattern was repeated with Kilbride getting a kickable penalty within minutes to go back in front. At this point with 25 minutes left Saints superior fitness began to tell allied to the fact they started to play the right game plan. Clean possession was used to kick deep into the corners, East Kilbride struggled to clear their lines to any distance and gradually started to sustain constant pressure. Still East Kilbride constantly offended at the break down conceding penalties.
In a brief excursion into the Saints territory the home side were awarded another penalty for a Saints player being offside from a knock on! They went back into the lead with only 15 minutes left to play. Saints went back on the attack, Tom Hiddleston made a break but failed to find the support. Still Saints pressurised and still they couldn’t get quick ball. The ref finally had enough and yellow carded the East Kilbride flanker, Saints kicked for the corner rather than take the three points. The line out was lost and the pressure appeared to have been cleared. Saints weren’t done yet though and having regained possession Jamie Farquhar saw the gap and shot through it, Finlay Miller was up in support to score the vital try, the conversion hit the post would a two point lead be enough?
Saints supporters need not have worried, Angus Lean made a big break up the middle and the inevitable penalty led to another three points. With the clock ticking away it was now all Saints and with the last kick of the match Tom Hiddleston popped over a drop goal to clinch the win and deny the home side a losing bonus point! Final score 23-15.
This was not a great performance but one where the young Saints side stuck in, playing in very poor conditions, and eventually got the rewards for their fitness and determination. Any away win is valuable and hopefully the lesson has been learnt on the need to get quality possession and play the game the way they want to!
Team; G McCall, R MacMillan, R Dunlop, B Stanley, A Taylor, S Wight, R Henderson, J Little, R Weir, T Hiddleston, R Steele, J Farquhar, K Henderson, F Miller, S Hiddleston. Subs all used, R Haggarty, D Henderson, A Lean.