Dumfries Saints 13 – Irvine RFC 13
Saints remain unbeaten but held by Irvine
Dumfries Saints were looking to maintain their impressive 100% start to the season with this home match against Ayrshire visitors, Irvine RFC, who have also been showing remarkable form in the last few weeks. Unfortunately the good old Scottish weather was destined to play a large part in the match. Strong winds and frequent heavy showers made kicking, handling and passing a bit of a lottery.
Both teams did well to cope with the extreme weather conditions. With the wind behind them, Saints exerted a lot of pressure – with strong rucking from their pack. The pressure paid off with two tries scored out wide on the right, to give a half-time lead of 10 – 0. The Saints scorers were Ross Henderson and Ben Johnstone – but the wind made the conversion virtually impossible for Saints kicker John Carlisle.
Play was lively with both sides using the ball well, but too often, attacks fell short of the line. An successful Irvine penalty 10 minutes into the second half was countered 2 minutes later by John Carlisle for Saints to maintain their lead at 13 – 3.
Both sides were ringing the changes with substitutions as the conditions and physical nature of the match took their toll. Most remarkable was the appearance of Saints Assistant 1st XV coach Kenny Brown early in the second-half – for his first game for the Saints in some 5 years or so. Kenny soon showed he had lost none of his drive as he powered Saints close to the visitors’ try line. Unfortunately, despite some great team play, the pressure couldn’t be converted into points.
With the wind at their backs, Irvine started to come more into the game and despite stout resistance from Saints managed to squeeze another penalty in the 64th minute taking the score to 13 – 6 for Saints.
The last 10 minutes produced end-to-end nail-biting play with both sides producing remarkably good rugby in the wind and rain. It was really not a case of Saints trying to hold on. In fact, both teams were looking to secure the win. One such period of sustained play took Saints right on to the Irvine line only for the ball to be dropped inches short of grounding. At the other end, we defended courageously against determined Irvine attacks. However, a very late converted try by the visitors denied Saints a seventh league victory and left them to ponder over a few chances that got away.
Poor conditions, but a good match. Both teams have to be congratulated for their efforts. Saints have lost their 100% record – but on this showing they’ll well-able to remain top of the league for the rest of the year. The Saints team had seven of its regular 1st XV players not playing due to holidays, work or injury. This result shows that we have the strength in depth to do that.