Dumfries Saints 22 Biggar 10
Despite the weather the ground conditions at Park Farm were excellent and the prospect of the second and third place teams playing for league position thrilled the large crowd.
The game started at a furious pace and kept it up for the duration. These were two teams keen to play fast rugby and the crowd were not to be disappointed. The first scoring opportunity was a kick and chase out of defence by Sam Hiddleston he dribbled the ball to the line but an awkward bounce allowed Biggar to touch down and clear.
Within minutes Andrew Whiteford tried the same and was stopped illegally, John Carlisle made it 3 nil from the penalty. Despite some serious pace in the Biggar back 3 Saints saw this move was working for them and persisted, with Andrew Whiteford winning the foot race to a similar kick in behind and the ball was recycled to Jordan Kerr for the first try, John Carlisle converted and it was 10 nil.
Saints kept up the pressure in the Biggar 22 and but were giving up a lot of possession and when presented an opportunity the fast Biggar centre and winger took the ball the length of the field to score a converted try, 10 : 7.
Biggar were awarded a penalty on the 10 metre and opted for the long distance kick but failed to level the scores. The pace was relentless, Saints had the edge in the scrums, Biggar fairing slightly better in the lineouts. Both teams were racking up the handling errors which was little wonder at the pace the game was being played. Saints were spilling a lot of ball in contact and Biggar seemed unable to bring their fast wingers into the game without forward passing. The high number of resulting scrums were taking their toll on the front rows and both teams were making use of their bench. Play went from end to end with great attack and defence from both teams and the 1st half ended 10 : 7
The second half continued at an unrelenting pace. Sam Hiddleston made some terrific line breaks from full back and Andrew Whiteford was coming off his wing looking for the ball, Ali Jackson had some excellent carries keeping Saints going forward. As legs started getting weary some tired penalties started creeping in. Saints won a 5 metre defensive lineout but got in front of the ball carrier giving Biggar the 3 point equaliser. Next time Saints kicked a clearance out of defence they had player in front of the kicker, although Biggar missed the posts this time.
As more front rows left the field the game went to uncontested scrums. From clean possession from one of these in the Biggar 22, Sam Hiddleston joined the line from full back and bulldozed through several tackles to score. The conversion was missed, 15 : 10.
Biggar had scoring opportunities at the other end but they all ended in forward passes when trying to bring their fast runners into the game. The final score came from some good continuity of play and again it was Sam Hiddleston who touched down, John Carlisle converted 22 : 10.
The Saints supporters nearly had a bonus point to cheer when Jack Steele combined with Andrew Whiteford to put the flying winger into space but a tip of the finger tap tackle from the Biggar full back brought him down just inside the 22.
This was the only game played in National 2 last weekend so Saints are still sitting second 2 points behind Kirkcaldy and 7 points ahead of Lasswade but both those teams have 2 games in hand.
Next week Saints travel to 6th placed Hamilton who started the league well, winning 29 : 20 at Park Farm back in early October but lost 36 : 8 when they visited for a Cup Game in mid-November. A good travelling support for the 2pm kick-off could help keep Saints on track.
Squad: 1: Tom Martin, 2: Zeke Dyson, 3: Douglas Boyd, 4: James Clyde, 5: Ali Jackson, 6: Michael Scott, 7: Gavin Wilson, 8: Finlay John Miller, 9: Jack Johnstone, 10: Jordan Kerr, 11: Andrew Whiteford, 12: John Carlisle, 13: Jack Steele (Captain), 14: Kenneth Henderson, 15: Sam Hiddleston, 16: Adam Prentice, 17: Ben Johnstone, 18: Ryan Cruickshank, 19: Keagan Jones
Also at Park Farm on Saturday Dumfries Saints 2nd XV secured a well-deserved win over Dalziel 2XV 29-5.
There are very strong players within the 2XV looking to secure an opportunity to play for the 1XV, plus a few battlers who are there for the love of the game.
It’s great to see such healthy competition and determination for positions throughout Dumfries Saints Rugby.
Great for the club, great for the game.