Scottish 2nd XV League – West Division 1 – Glasgow Accies 5 – Dumfries Saints 26
Last weekend Saints travelled to New Anniesland in Glasgow’s west end to play recently promoted Glasgow Accies. On a bright but breezy afternoon with two young teams squaring up to each other for the first time in some years, the signs were favourable for a good game of running rugby and so it proved.
Saints took a huge travelling party of nearly thirty players to say farewell to Martin Smith who heads off on a working holiday in New Zealand. Oh, how times have changed for the better, and naturally, there were some disappointed players who failed to make the final 22 but they all know and accept, it will be a long campaign and it will take a big squad to win this league.
Saints kicked off with the benefit of the breeze and it took only a couple of minutes before Burgess punished an Accies indiscretion by calmly slotting the opening score. From the re-start, Saints returned the kick and made ground into the Accies half. Serious pressure kept the home side penned in their half. A further penalty was duly converted by Burgess to give Saints a six-point lead.
On the 10-minute mark, the Accies pack nicked one against the head and spun the ball wide to score in the corner and as the conversion went, wide Saints maintained a slender lead. With the Saints pack dominating the lineout they took, the game back at Accies and after a 5-metre scrum Eck Bryden crossed near the posts. With Burgess, converting a bit of daylight was appearing between the teams. As the first half drew to a close, Burgess added yet another penalty to make the half time score Accies 5 – Saints 16
From the start of the second half Saints had to withstand some fierce Accies pressure as they tried to close the gap. Heroic defence kept them at bay and the Dumfries side worked their way up field. Saints backs and forwards combined to play some pretty special rugby in the process. When Birdsall put a kick into the corner, Saints won the lineout and drive over with Mark McClatchey claiming the unconverted try although Freebody reckons he had his hand on the ball as well!!
Accies not to be outdone came back at Saints time after time but the Saints defence was to remain firm. With Accies pressing on the Saints five-metre line and a three on two overlap beckoning Alan Birdsall intercepted, drew his man and passed to Andy Whiteford who ran the ball in from fully 70 yards to score the final try. No matter how hard Saints tried the elusive fourth try failed to materialised. The final whistle went with Saints convincingly winning a very good game of rugby by 26 points to 5.
For the record Saints team was
Forwards: Sean Graham, Euan Mack, Simon Robertson (Capt.), Stuart Kennedy, Will Greene, Dougie Crichton, Mark McClatchey, Clinton Freebody.
Backs: Will Kelly, Stuart Burgess, Andy Whiteford, Eck Bryden, Dom Lewis, Martin Smith, Keith Riddick.
Replacements: Blair Milligan, Fraser Carson, Blair Thomson; Jonnie Campion, Alan Birdsall, Richie Davidson, and Keiron Milby who all played except Blair Milligan who is still nursing a damaged ankle and wasn’t risked.