Dundee HSFP 32 GHA 20
Two points separated these two clubs before Saturday’s encounter at Mayfield although GHA have a game in hand.Despite early rain in the morning, conditions improved at the picturesque location nestling at the banks of the silvery Tay. A difficult cross wind and angular wintry sun made accurate passing and kicking essential. The pitch which has had considerable work carried out on it in the close season was firm and suitable for running rugby. GHA had been delayed by a dreadful road accident on the motorway and quickly went through their preparations. Likewise Dundee went through their specific drills and moves.
Dundee kicked off and the ball was gathered by Ross Angus who worked it to Andrew Goudie who attempted to clear the ball into Dundee territory. The home side gathered the ball and immediately ran the ball back at the visitors. However the ball went loose and Dario Ewing gathered the ball and made a searing break up to the Dundee twenty metre line before being stopped.Ross Angus went off injured after two minutes and GHA regrouped. Dundee gained possession and powerful drives by Alan Brown and Ali Mackie gained ground for the home side. Play for the next few minutes centred on both sides attempting to find gaps in their opponents defence and several promising moves by both sides broke down with loose passes and knock ons. This tended to create a stop start nature to the match which persisted throughout the match leading to considerable frustration amongst the players and supporters. Both sides would engage in speculative kicks into space which handed the ball to the opposition. However by the tenth minute, GHA began to assert themselves deep inside the home half and promptings by Andrew Gillman supported by Max MacFarlane were asking questions of the home defence. James Sutherland carried the ball into the Dundee twenty metre area and the visitors were awarded a penalty as Dundee desperately tried to stop the GHA advance. Andre Goudie converted the penalty to make the score after ten minutes: DUNDEE 0 GHA 3.
The visitors were intent on building on this lead and began to move the ball with speed and purpose. Several attempted incursions by the visitors were repelled by the home defence and indeed one superb break by Andrew Gillman was just stopped on the five metre line and the ball cleared. Aware of the mounting pressure from GHA , Dundee began to steady their approach and seized the initiative. Ali Mackie who made a huge contribution to the match led the way finding space behind the GHA defence. The visitors gave away a penalty on the ten metre line and a accurate kick by Harvey Young pushed GHA back into their own twenty metre area. In a simple catch and drive the home side went over to allow Ali Mackie to score. Harvey Young from a very difficult angle made a superb conversion to make the score after twenty five minutes: DUNDEE 7 GHA 3.
From the restart Dundee attacked again but were rebuffed by stout tackling by the visitors. Several scrums ensued and Dundee were beginning to use their power in the set piece to win the ball. GHA countered this by attempting to secure quick ball with Scott Plumridge and Jamie Auld and James Sutherland in concert with Andrew Gillman breaking off and attacking around the fringes. As we moved towards the half hour the game was frequently stopped for scrums resulting from wayward passes or knock ons. Both sides seemed to have difficulty maintaining pressure as the ball was turned repeatedly. However Andrew Goudie placed a superb kick behind the Dundee defence into space to allow Andrew Spowart to run through, gather the ball and go over to score. The conversion was missed and the score after thirty minutes was: DUNDEE 7 GHA 8.
Dundee began to use their strike runners running from deep to attack the heart of the GHA defence. THis forced the visitors to commit men to the breakdown and allowed Dundee to recycle quickly and turn the GHA defence.This tactic in which Alan Brown and James Forrester and Lewis McNamara were immense took the play right up to the GHA five metre line.A penalty award to the home side saw the resulting kick being put into touch on the corner flag. A quick catch and drive allowed Ali Mackie to go over to the acclaim of the home support. Whilst the conversion was missed the score after thirty five minutes was : DUNDEE 12 GHA 8, In the hectic minutes before the interval, GHA attacked on a broad front , forwards and backs linking well and indeed in one break James Sutherland was only just stopped on the Dundee five metre line. The visitors made huge efforts to win the ball but a penalty was awarded to Dundee and the immediate danger cleared. HALF TIME : DUNDEE 12 GHA 8.
It had been a strange half. Both sides had shown flashes of really good rugby but knock ons, wayward passes and turn overs robbed both sides of consistency, Neither side seemed able to put their game plan into action for the whole of the half.
The second half brought a score before most of the crowd had taken their positions. From the restart Dundee stunned GHA by gathering the ball and feeding Ali Mackie who went over to score. The try was converted and the score after one minute of the half was: DUNDEE 17 GHA 8.
As we have seen on numerous occasions this season, GHA rallied and set about attempting to reduce the leeway. This instant riposte seemed to shake Dundee who suddenly found themselves defending inside their five metre are.A penalty to GHA was quickly taken and several attempts to get over the try line were only just stopped as Dundee attempted to clear the danger . However the visitors gathered and a superb delayed long pass by the ever alert Andrew Goudie found space for Andrew Spowart who scampered over to score. Andrew Goudie attempting to cope with a swirling wind just failed with the conversion from a difficult angle. The score after ten minutes of the second half was: DUNDEE 19 GHA 13.
It was now Dundee’s turn to apply pressure as they took the game to the visitors and a great line break by Kieran Scoular was stopped on the five metre line. Dundee patiently executed a drive and quickly recycled the ball to allow Kevin Franco to score. The conversion failed and the score was now Dundee 24 GHA 13.
Undaunted, GHA attempted to run through the phases and excellent link work by messrs Gillman,Goudie Tucoulet made ground. Several promising moves by both sides in the next few minutes broke down by wayward passing and the ball being turned over. Despite these shortcomings both sides gave their all in an untidy period with kicks behind defences being returned with interest or run back at the opposition. An excellent break by Max MacFarlane took the visitors into the Dundee half. GHA tried desperately to make the yardage to set up a scoring opportunity. GHA were moving the ball with pace and a quickly taken penalty took the visitors to inside the Dundee twenty metre area. The ball went loose and an altercation between the forwards resulted in a lengthy stoppage as the referee conferred with the assistant referee. The upshot was a red card for Alan Brown and a penalty to GHA. As we reached the thirty fifth minute Seitaro Usuda fought his way through a ruck to score. Andrew Goudie converted the try to make the score DUNDEE 24 GHA 20.
The visiting side threw everything into attack, benefitting from the uncontested scrums. Stout defence held out a number of breaks by GHA but it seemed that in the dying embers of the game, GHA had suddenly found momentum and were looking to score. As the crowd began to check their watches, GHA made one final effort passing the ball through the line trying to make the man advantage tell. Suddenly from deep inside his own half the outstanding Ali Mackie intercepted a pass and sprinted the length of the pitch to score amidst scenes of joy and desolation in the crowd. Whilst the conversion failed the score was now DUNDEE 29 GHA 20.
Despite this setback and aware that there were only a minute or two left the visitors tried to rally again. However Dundee won a penalty inside the GHA twenty metre area and Harvey Young converted to make the final score: DUNDEE 32 GHA 20.
This was a match where neither side were able to produce consistent good play. There were a large number of knock ons, turnovers and missed passes and speculative kicks. The constant stop start nature of the match made establishing continuity difficult.
DUNDEE HSFP: K. SCOULAR, I. MATACAGI, D. LEESE, F. MCKAY, R. JOY, H. YOUNG, J. RUTNAGUR, J. FORRESTER, K. FRANCO, A. BROWN, G. ARNOTT, N. TURNBULL, R.MILNE, L. McNAMARA, A. MACKIE – REPLACEMENTS: L. WALKER L. McLEAN P. REDMAYNE A. HAMILTON D. McGINN
SCORERS: T – MACKIE (4), FRANCO C – YOUNG (2) P – YOUNG
GHA: C. KING, A. SPOWART, C. TUCOULET, M. MacFARLANE, B. ADDISON, A. GOUDIE, A. GILLMAN, T. BROGAN, D. EWING, M. FOX, D. CORBENICI, L. MAVUNGA, S. PLUMRIDGE, J. SUTHERLAND, R. ANGUS – REPLACEMENTS: S. USUDA S. CARSON A. BARNETT, J. AULD, C. BINNIE
SCORERS: T – SPOWART (2), USUDA C – GOUDIE P – GOUDIE