West of Scotland 2nd XV league – Division 1
Dumfries Saints 49 – Helensburgh 8
On a beautiful autumn day perfect for rugby, table topping Saints welcomed Helensburgh to Park Farm. The visitors travelled with a good healthy squad comprising old heads and youngsters and intent on causing an upset. With a game plan based on, aggressive defence, and disruption at the breakdown and set piece Helensburgh were always going to be difficult to play against and so it proved.
From the outset Saints took play to the opposition and it took five minute for the deadlock to be broken. A Helensburgh infringement gave Duncan the chance to slot the penalty and give saints the early need. Straight from the kick off a combination of bizarre bounce of the ball and poor field position allowed the Helensburgh full back to dive over for the try. The conversion failed narrowly but the score gave Helensburgh the lead and renewed their efforts. In the Saints 22 the visitors pressed the home side and a crucial interception by Davidson saw the centre race the length of the pitch to score under the posts. Duncan converted to give the home team a narrow 5 point lead.
McCornick scored his first try for saints shortly afterwards and Duncan converted the difficult touchline conversion. Duncan added a penalty shortly afterwards to open up a gap between the teams. The home team then conceded a silly penalty and the visitors converted to close the gap once more. In the dying moments of the half the impressive Dougie Crichton barged over after a pick and drive from a five metre scrum, Duncan’s conversion made the half time score 27-8 to the Saints.
Early exchanges in the second half were fairly even until Bruce Haggerty scored an unconverted try from a ruck near the Helensburgh line to ensure the bonus point. The same player added his second try soon afterwards which Duncan converted. With the welcome return of Ross Haggerty adding a new dimension to the forward pack the line outs and scrums were all going Saints way and with it an abundance of possession. Ross Mair’s introduction on the wing added even more pace out wide and the newcomer was unlucky not to score after a couple of scorching runs. Experience will make this youngster a welcome addition to the squad.
The visitors were by now on damage limitation helped by the Saints inability to put their opponents to the sword. Several scoring opportunities went a begging as white line fever infected Saints play and they lost their shape and structure for periods of the game. A Burgess try after a good break converted by Duncan settled the home team.Bruce Haggerty completed his hat trick and a good afternoons work to finish the scoring at 49 – 8 in Saints favour.
Next week table topping Saints travel to Glasgow to play 2nd placed GHK knowing that there will need to be a tightening up and control in their play if they are to remain top of the league.
Pictures courtesy of Ali Burgess
Dougie Crichton takes the ball forward
Saints shows offensive defence
Mark McLatchie is shackled by the visitors
Bruce Haggerty on the charge
Stuart Burgess about to off load
Richie Davidson goes for the gap
Minty looks for space
Dougie Crichton scores
McLatchie takes the ball forward
Saints defensive line waits to repel the opposition
Stuart Renwick takes good line out ball
Saints scrum drives forward