Saints Get Their Reward!
Perthshire 26 Dumfries Saints 30
After three frustratingly narrow defeats Saints finally got there first league win on the board with an exciting away win in Perth. The conditions were excellent and as usual these two sides provided an excellent spectacle.
Saints were fired up from the off and the forwards exerted early pressure and showed good ball retention through several phases to create the opportunity for fly half Rory Steele to dance through the bedraggled home defence for a try after just four minutes. Tom Hiddleston converted. Frustratingly Saints conceded a needless penalty almost from the kick off for the home side to claw three points back.
There was no stopping the Saints though as they went back on the attack. The scrum had been solidified with the addition of Kiwi John Sa and the back row hardened by the addition of Paddy Coupar. It was all Saints pressure and they almost got though a couple of times.
On fifteen minutes Walker turned over Perthshire ball in defence and this time Steele put Johnnie Sloan away for a 70 yard score, again converted by Tom Hiddleston. Unbelievably Saints again gave away a soft penalty almost from the restart and paid the price, penalties were keeping the home side in the game at this stage.
As they pressed again good scrum pressure allowed Steele to exploit half a gap and link with Kenny Henderson who put Sam Hiddleston in for a third try after 23 minutes, brother Tom converted. The second quarter was a nervy one for Saints, it was almost as though they started thinking about it! Penalties continued to cost them dearly and with ten minutes of the half remaining Perthshire kicked for the corner and executed a well drilled catch and drive to claw a try back.
The home side could have added another before half time but for an excellent try saving tackle from Johnnie Sloan. Tom Hiddleston and home man Jack Steel exchanged penalties and at half time it was 24-16, not much of a lead for a three try effort but Saints had never been behind!
The second half started badly for Saints with Sam Hiddleston yellow carded at a ruck. This was all the encouragement the home side needed and they stepped up a gear as they battered the Saints defence. Eventually the numerical advantage told and Perthshire scored in the corner, again their excellent kicker converted and the game was finely balanced at 24-23.
The final quarter saw Saints step up again once back to 15 men. Stand off Rory Steele came off injured but sub Graeme Gemmell came on at full back and made some excellent breaks. The forwards tightened up, Kenny Brown came off the bench along with Craig Greer and Jamie Graham to add some fresh legs. Saints stretched their lead with a penalty only to be pegged back by a Perthshire penalty.
Tom Hiddleston kicked another penalty with time running out and looked to have scored a clinching try from his own hack ahead only for the ref to disallow it as he was unsighted. Saints dominated the final minutes as they tried to put the home side to the sword. The ref blew with Saints 30-26 ahead for a well earned win and much relief for all concerned!
Team; G McCall, R MacMillan, J Sa, D Henderson, A Mather, J Graham, P Coupar, J Currie, S Diez, R Steele, K Henderson, S Hiddleston, A Walker, J Sloan, T Hiddleston. Subs all used; C Greer, K Brown, J Graham and G Gemmell.
Ali Mather wins line out ball
John Sa and Sylvain Diez wait for the ball to emerge!
Paddy Coupar and James Currie clean out ball for Sylvain Diez
Paddy Coupar drives forward with Kenny Brown in support
Sylvain Diez puts into the scrum with Rory Steele waiting at stand off