Saints lose out in a tight tie with Preston Lodge
Saints travelled to Prestonpans on Saturday for the away leg after a good home win on 1st November. With Preston Lodge sitting 2nd in the league and Dumfries 3rd and only the top two going up so much was at stake for both teams. Conditions were perfect and the crowd were treated to fast paced, high calibre game of rugby.
The first 25 minutes was hectic with both teams testing each other out. The scrums were evenly matched but Saints were edging the lineouts. Referee Gregg Dawson from Northumberland made it clear he was in charge and penalised indiscretions at the breakdown. The first one to be awarded within kicking distance was against the Saints for going offside at a ruck on their 22 and the home side took a 3 point lead.
The Preston Lodge full back ran a missed touch out of defence into Saints’ half where he was caught and turned over. Saints backs pulled off a great training field move with a wrap round in midfield by Ben Johnstone creating the tiniest space for winger Euan Laverty who made the best use of it by going round the defence to score in the corner. The conversion was missed but Saints were 3pts to 5 up.
With a home player sent to the sin bin Saints kicked to touch, won the lineout and scrum half Jack Johnstone set off on a mazy that took a try saving tackle to stop and the Preston Lodge scrum half to clear the danger. End of the first half and after Saints had the bulk of the possession the score remained PL 3 Saints 5.
Five minutes into the second half the referee sent Ryan Cruikshank to the bin for hands in a ruck and Preston Lodge took the lead 6 : 5 from the resulting penalty. The home team midfield were bringing down the Saints ball carriers and their back row were slowing down possession very effectively but frequently legally. Saints continued to dominate the line out, possession and territory. The home defence was solid but giving away penalties which allowed John Carlisle to put Saints back in the lead 6 : 8.
The home side were not giving up and put the Dumfries defence under pressure with a kick and chase, their intensity led to a Saints mistake as Sam Hiddleston slapped a loose ball into touch and spent the rest of the game in the bin. Preston Lodge exploited the gap in the centre with a well worked inside pass to the winger coming at pace who sliced through the defence to score at the posts leaving an easy conversion to take the lead again 16 : 11.
The last 5 minutes was all Dumfries pressure on the Preston Lodge line, winning penalty after penalty as the home side threw everything into defence, but despite claims for a penalty try there was to be no more scoring leaving the Saints very frustrated. Despite having games in hand Saints promotion chances are now down to other teams losing as well them wining.
Squad; Matt Hayman, Andrew Wilson, John Carlisle, Sam Hiddleston, Euan Laverty, Ben Johnstone, Jack Johnstone, Craig Goldie, Euan Mack, Adam Prentice, Lee Scott, Ally Mather (C), Jamie Graham, Ryan Cruikshank, Paddy Coupar. Subs; Cammy Taylor, Kenny Henderson, Michael Yates and Blair Milligan.