Preston Lodge 29 Dumfries Saints 21
Four games into the season and already there is a huge gulf opening up between the top teams and the bottom teams with Saints finding themselves in the middle of the league after a couple of emphatic wins and a couple of unfortunate defeats. Preston Lodge proved to be a stuffy opposition with a good defence, good ball retention and able to remain calm and controlled in attack.
On their day Saints could have soaked this up and come out on top but had to play 30 minutes of the second half with 14 men after receiving 3 yellow cards.
Preston Lodge opened the scoring with 2 penalties in close succession then were awarded a try after a knock on that was spotted by everyone in the ground apart from the referee, the most surprised person was the PL player who casually touched the ball down fully expecting to be brought back for a scrum only to see referee Sam O’Neil holding up his hand and blowing for a try. The conversion was missed and Saints were down 11 nil.
After a one sided start the rest of the first half contained some excellent rugby from both teams, probing each other defence and clearing lines well. From a lineout in the PL 22 young stand-off Joe Strain drew the PL defence and flipped an inside ball to wing Andrew Whiteford to score under the posts, John Carlisle converted taking the score to 11 : 7.
Wing Robert Douglas broke out of defence and carried well into the PL half before some slick passes put Ewan Miller over for a try, John Carlisle converted and the 11 : 14 score took the game into half time.
PL kicked another penalty to level the scores and then the first yellow was given to Michael Yates when the speedy PL winger slipped and fell on his way into contact, his head collided with Michael’s chest on the way down, Michael appeared to reach over the falling player to target the ball but referee O’Neil deemed this to be a high tackle worthy of a yellow card.
PL scored after sustained pressure, the conversion was missed, Saints forwards got one back with a catch and drive from a lineout, John Carlisle conversion took the score to 19 : 21. The referee was getting frustrated with the number of penalties and warned the next was going in the bin and Michael Scott was on the receiving end for some misdemeanour at a ruck.
Saints worked hard with 14 men but PL got another try but missed the conversion, then as Michael Scott was coming back on Ewan Miller was going off after holding the ball up as PL drove over the line, referee O’Neil awarded PL a 5 metre scrum which would have led most people to believe the ball had been held up legally, Euan’s team mates congratulated him for saving a try and then looked on in disbelief as he was yellow carded for not releasing the tackle. Even the bemused PL pack wondered what type of offence in a try scoring situation warranted a yellow card but no penalty try. But they buckled down and scored from the 5 metre scrum which was unconverted taking the score to 29 : 21.
The 14 Saints battled hard for the last 10 minutes but were unable to claw anything back.
Next week GHK are coming the Park Farm to play both the 1st XV and the 2nd XV. GHK 1st XV are sitting next to Saints in the league having won 2 and lost 2 the same as Saints. Their 2nd XV are sitting above Saints 2nd XV having won 3 and drawn 1 against Saints won 3 and lost 1.
Squad: Craig Goldie, Tom Martin, Douglas Boyd, James Clyde, David Andrew, Michael Scott, Ewan Miller, Callum Smith, Jack Steele (Captain), Joe Strain, Robert Douglas, John Carlisle, Sam Hiddleston, Andrew Whiteford, Jack Currie, Adam Prentice, Sean Graham, Ryan Cruikshank and Michel Yates.