Scottish 2XV League – Division 4 (West)
Whitecraigs RFC 2nd XV – 45 Dumfries Saints 2nd XV – 7
With a large number of call offs, call ups and injuries a sadly depleted, very young second team made their way to Newton Mearns last weekend faced with the daunting task of playing the league leaders in their own den.
The score line might suggest a rather one sided affair but the reality was somewhat different. Taking only sixteen men they were always going to have an uphill struggle against a very young, fast, fit outfit bolstered by experience in crucial positions.
Gavin Mack slotted into fullback with Smith and Newport on the wings. Dobs and Richie Davidson took up their usual centre berths and the pivotal duo of Burgess and Minty at half back completed a very decent back line. In the front row the influential Simon Robertson and young Calum Ferguson were joined by Gil Leyva making a too early return from injury. In the second row comeback man Ross Strawbridge put in a solid shift until fitness told. He was joined in the boiler house by new guy Charlie Gallagher playing his first ever game of rugby. Nathan McQueen, Mo Macrae and Fraser Carson completed the forward pack. Ben Hawthorn also returning from injury filled the sole replacement slot.
The game started in beautiful if cold early winter conditions. Whitecraigs looked very sharp particularly in the backs and their link play between backs and forwards was excellent. However the Dumfries side stuck to the game plan and frustrated them time after time.
For the first thirty minutes they bombarded the Dumfries line. Heroic defence limited this scoring to 16 points in the first thirty minutes of the half.
In the last part of the first half the Saints were camped on the Whitecraigs line. Showing good ball retention they asked serious questions of the home defence. A mixture of great defence and some poor decisions meant the line was kept secure and the score remained at 16-0 to the half time whistle.
With the makeshift Dumfries team still causing them some major problems and frustrating their continuity things weren’t going to the Whitecraigs game plan. At only sixteen points behind the Saints infringed at the breakdown. Surprisingly the Whitecraigs skipper elected to take the easy kick at goal to cement the lead and settle his players.
The visitors were by now starting to feel the strain and were visibly tiring. Whitecraigs ran in a further three tries without response starting to put a rather unfair impression on the match.
Martin Smith’s excellent consolation score, converted by Burgess was a fitting reward for a gutsy all round team performance. Whitecraigs rounded of the scoring to make the final result Whitecraigs 45 – Dumfries 7.
On a day when all sixteen players tried their hardest some performances caught the eye. Fraser Carson was tremendous at No 8 earning the man of the match accolade from the opposition. Simon Robertson continues to impress and as his fitness is returning so is his confidence. Martin Smith was the pick of the backs and took his score well. Charlie Gallagher had an excellent debut with some bullocking runs straight at the heart of the Whitecraigs defence and causing them no little anxiety. Through time he will mature into a good solid player.
In little bursts several others showed glimpses of what they can do but we need more consistency. The combined opinion after the match was that whilst there is recognition that this Whitecraigs team are a decent outfit Dumfries should not be fearful of the return at Park Farm in the New Year.
Team: G Mack, Smith, Dobui, Davidson, Newport, Burgess, Minty, Robertson, Ferguson, Leyva, Strawbridge, Gallagher, McQueen, Macrae, Carson. Replacement Hawthorn