Agony For Saints
Dumfries Saints 3 Howe of Fife 5
Saints failed despite enormous effort to break their duck against Howe of Fife, the Fifers continued to hold an Indian sign over Saints in a game played in horrendously windy conditions. Captain Jamie Little lost the toss so Saints didn’t have the option of starting into the wind as they had so effectively against Watsonians last week.
The game got off to a fiery start with both teams obviously pumped up for this table top clash. Within minutes the Howe prop was yellow carded for foul play and Saints began to build pressure as a result. The first scoring chance however went the other way as Howe showed their ability to run the ball from deep and almost went the length of the pitch but for a forward pass. The missing prop seemed to disrupt both sides but after 10 minutes Saints made it count when Andy Walker knocked over a penalty for three points. Any kick in these conditions was an achievement!
Despite having the wind advantage Saints were struggling to get possession and when they did they didn’t retain it particularly well. It was a frustrating period of the game as Saints failed to use their wind advantage and looked the poorer side. Howe again showed their attacking potential to roar upfield only for young winger Craig Bryson to make a try saving tackle covering back. From the resultant scrum Saints picked and drove but went once too often and were turned over. It seemed Howe must score but centre Kenny Henderson rescued Saints tackling man and ball.
Saints cleared downwind and reapplied pressure. Henderson was taken out late after a clever chip but crucially rather than kick for goal Saints kicked to touch for a five metre line out, which they then over threw and lost. It summed up Saints play, frustrating loose! Doc Satala broke as Saints attacked again and Finlay Miller carried it on but then the support ran out. Saints had Stanley yellow carded for foot work and when Howe ran the penalty they were sleeping and allowed the visitors through for a soft try. Saints went back down field and had another penalty chance which they declined in favour of a scrum in the Howe 22, this was to prove a costly decision as half time came with Saints 5-3 down and turning into the wind.
The half time pep talk must have been something special as Saints came out all guns blazing for the second half. Playing into a very strong wind they knew they would have to carry the ball for every yard as kicks were going backwards. The Saints pack certainly picked up the gauntlet and put Howe under real pressure. Steve Mackinnon came off the bench and made several telling carries, scrum half Miller was directing with increasing confidence and Stuart Clanachan was making big yards. Saints got into the Howe 22 but even when awarded penalties couldn’t kick them into the wind.
The pick and drive was working however and the pack put in a lot of work to get field position. Saints won a scrum five yards out and Clanachan picked and went, he drove over the line and was sure he had scored as were the crowd, unfortunately the ref failed to see it and awarded another scrum, second time around Howe were wise to it and cleared their lines. It was a cruel blow for the Saints.
Saints continued to work tremendously hard and in an extraordinary game both halves saw the side playing into the gale force wind playing the better rugby! Howe however remained an extremely well drilled and disciplined side and refused to allow Saints to score. It was a second half performance of immense character from the Saints as all 18 players ensured Howe scored no points with a mighty wind behind them and indeed on several occasion seriously threatened the Howe line. But Lady Luck wasn’t smiling on Saints and time ran out without a score in the second half.
This result was a bitter disappointment to Saints who were hoping to do what no other side in National 1 has done this season and take points off Howe. They do get a losing bonus point but the pack below them in the league table is closing in and Saints now need to start getting some more wins under their belts to secure that second promotion spot. The coaches were as delighted with the second half performance as they were disappointed with the first, it’s a funny old game!
Team; G McCall, R Henderson, K Geddes, B Stanley, A Mather, J Little, D Satala, S Clanachan, F Miller, A Walker, J Farquhar, A Bryden, K Henderson, C Bryson, R Steele. Subs all used S MacKinnon, W Duncan, D Crichton.
Kenny Henderson puts Jamie Farquhar away
Andy Walker gets his man
Ben Stanley tackles
Captain Jamie Little can’t stop getting this ball
Craig Bryson gets his man
Stuart Clanachan sets off