Match report vs Dumfries Saints, 12/3/22
A great start and what a finish - but that just wasn’t enough to secure the win against tough opponents who, after an early start to travel to Edinburgh for a 1 pm kickoff, came to life in both attack and defence.
With only two minutes on the clock, following an impressive touch finder from Kyle Henderson then a straightforward lineout and drive, Ru Mitchell was over the line. Stewarts Melville 5 – Dumfries Saints 0.
The restart was good, we applied more pressure and Saints were struggling to get out of their own half. Within just eleven minutes, we were over the line once more to make the score SM 10 – Dumfries 0 - if only it could be that simple for the rest of the afternoon. Sadly not!
Play resumed and Dumfries, for the first-time, exerted pressure on their hosts. Once they were in the red zone, the visitors made sure they came away with seven points. 15 minutes in, that made the score SM 10 – Dumfries 7. The penalty count against us was rising, unfortunately - but it wasn’t all one way as, at around the 20-minute mark, Happy secured the three points on offer to make the score SM 13 – Dumfries 7.
With our lineout barely functioning and with Saints regaining possession, a kick and chase by the visitors resulted in an opportunistic try to make it SM 13 – Dumfries 12 with 25 minutes played. The first scrum eventually came at around the 30 minute mark and it was solid. Unfortunately, though, the lineout thereafter was not and possession was lost. With the penalty count against us continuing to rise, the tables were beginning to turn in Saints’ favour. Come half time there was a sense of unease not only amongst the players but also among the small gathering of the faithful who had not journeyed to Rome.
The second half started reasonably well and, with another penalty coming our way, the lead was extended, albeit marginally. Happy was again successful with his boot at around the fifty-five minute mark to make the score SM 16 – Dumfries 12.
Things were about to change, though, as Saints pushed well into our half before a quick off load from their talismanic stand-off Jack Steele and a good line break by their outside centre Sam Hiddleston resulted in a try under our posts. That made it SM 16 – Dumfries 19.
The restart wasn’t good but a knock-on gave us the scrum near the half way line. Shortly after that an advantage came our way in the form of a yellow card to the visitors. We did not, however, make the most of our extra man and it was Saints who managed to score once more, against the odds. 60 minutes in, it was SM 16 – Dumfries 24.
Too many mistakes were creeping into our play once again and, as the lineouts continued to misfire, 14-man Saints managed another three points via a penalty to stretch their lead further. With 70 minutes played it was SM 16– Dumfries 27. The game was slipping away.
Restored to their full complement, Dumfries were soon the recipients of yet another yellow card and this time we did manage to make the most of our numerical advantage as George Lee touched down. That made it SM 21 – Dumfries 27. We were straight back onto the front foot from the restart as we sought to claim what might prove to be the winning try. Maybe, just maybe … but no.
Full time: SM 21 – Dumfries Saints 27.
Let's not kid ourselves: this was a disappointing afternoon but we were beaten by a better side on the day and Saints thoroughly deserved their 5 points on the road. We just have to suck it up and be satisfied with a losing bonus point. It's going to be a hard run to the finish and will likely go right down to the wire. As they say, 'it's not over till the fat lady sings’ - sadly, I think I can hear her clearing her throat!
We’re next in action against Gordonians at Inverleith on 26th March. Five points are an absolute must – see you there!
Photographs courtesy of Jax Mackenzie Photography