Great day for senior men & U18, frustration for the women's team
DUNDEE RUGBY 19-47 HIGHLAND RFC
This weekend saw the 1st XV kick off their National League Division 1 Season away to Dundee, which can be a tricky tie.
Highland took to the field in glorious sunshine beside the Firth of Tay, a firm ground underfoot at Mayfield which looked in great nick.
The team got out of the blocks quickly, there were a few spilled passes early doors, as both side looked to settle into the game. Highland certainly had the momentum with them, and looked to be dominating up front in the early stages. Success coming at scrum, line out and in the loose.
Highland moved up the park quickly and from a line out just outside the home 22, set up a maul that was moving up the pitch smartly. The referee called a penalty for collapsing, and Highland looked to take advantage, but the ball was spilled forward in the 22 in front of Dundee’s posts. The referee went back for the penalty and yellow carded the offender.
Given their dominance, Highland opted for a scrum. Once again the scrum advanced but was also wheeling. The ball broke out of the scrum and No 9 Hugo Crush moved the ball to Mike Gordon coming in off his wing at pace. Mike was tackled about 5m from the try line, and the ball was quickly recycled and Hugo popped a short pass to Calum MacPherson who bulldozed his way over the line to the right of the posts. Rory Carson landed the conversion. (5 mins: 0-7)
It wasn’t long before Highland got on the score board again. Getting field position again by exiting to half way from an earlier line out. Kev Brown took advantage of an over throw by the Dundee hooker to make 15m up the park. The ball went through the hands to left wing Magnus Henry who made good ground before being tackled. The ball was moved inside, recycled, and moved back to Magnus who made more yards into the 22. The ball was put back again and Hugo darted for the line, and managed to offload to Jack Sutherland on his shoulder for try number 2. Once again Rory Carson landed the conversion. (12mins: 0-14)
Dundee then started to make an impression in the game, gaining territory and keeping the pressure up on Highland. This was managed reasonably well until around the 25min mark when Highland conceded several penalties in the red zone. The last of which resulted in a team YELLOW card for Stephen Murray for handling the ball in the ruck.
Dundee took a tap pen even though they had a man advantage, but it turned out to be the right decision as after a couple of phases Dundee stand off Fraser MacKay went in for a try wide on their left. The conversion was missed. (26mins: 5-14)
8 mins later Highland cleared the ball up field. Dundee worked the ball to their right wing, and back inside. A long pass bounced into the hands of the centre, who spun to avoid a tackle from Grant Jamieson. ,He noticed the Highland defence had become very narrow. He threw a long ball out to the full back on the wing who charged up the pitch with support on both shoulders. He threw a dummy to beat last defender, Ruaridh MacDonald, to score in the left corner. Not much of a chance for Ruaridh to stop 3 attackers. The conversion was good. (35mins: 12-14)
Dundee had the bit between their teeth at this point and came storming back up the field again off a loose Highland kick towards half way. They shifted the ball back to their left and knocked the ball forward into touch. Highland elected to take a scrum, looking to run down the last few seconds of Stephen Murray’s yellow card. However, Highland conceded a free kick. Dundee took a quick tap running to the right, before reversing direction. After several phases stand off, Fraser MacKay, squeezed over for his 2nd, and Dundee’s 3rd try. The conversion was good. (37mins: 19-14)
Then Stephen Murray came back onto the park, but Highland had conceded 19 points whilst he was off the field.
Half Time Score: 19-14.
After a talking to by the coaches, and the senior players, Highland took to the field looking get back into the game.
It only took 2mins to get back on the score board. From a scrum outside the Dundee 22, Hugo Crush dropped back to receive the ball from No 8 Calum Carson and shaped to run right before switching back to the left. He passed to stand off Rory Carson who shipped the ball on to Jack Sutherland who was cutting a line toward the posts. Jack found Calum MacPherson coming on the opposite line to take the ball and burst deep into the 22, where he off loaded to Hugo Crush to go in for a try. Rory Carson missed the conversion, and it would be the only kick he missed all day. (44mins:19-19)
About 5 mins later Highland looked to get a 50-22 line out, but the ball didn’t bounce right, and Dundee looked to clear out of their half. The ball went straight to Ruaridh MacDonald who fed the ball into Andrew Kellock (on for an injured Mike Gordon) who punted the ball right back to where it came from. Then it went horribly wrong for the Dundee back 3. The winger fielded Kellock’s kick just outside his try line. He passed to the full back in goal, but the shoulder high pass went straight through his hands and dropped at the feet of the other winger who knocked on in the in goal area.
The ref awarded a 5m scrum to Highland. Calum MacPherson and Callum Carson swapped positions for this scrum. MacPherson picking up at 8 and making a dash for the try line, taking two would be tacklers over the line with him, to score under the posts. Rory Carson was again good for the conversion. (51mins: 19-26)
Things settled down for about 10 mins. Highland had position deep in the Dundee half with a line out around the 22. Highland initially mauled the ball up the park before breaking to the left, then switching back infield. The ball came to Stuart Watson, who carried hard towards the posts dragging defenders with him. Calum MacPherson picked up at the ruck, made a break for the line, and offloaded to Hugo Crush about 5m out to go in for his 2nd try to the left of the posts. Once again Rory Carson landed the conversion. (62mins: 19-33)
A few minutes later after another line out around the Dundee 22, the ball was moved out into midfield. The ball came back left in the face of some solid Dundee tackling, with Rory Carson passing onto Grant Jamieson who found Stuart Watson lurking on his outside. Stuart receives the ball and we’re all (including his team mates) expecting the carry. But no, Stuart dinks through a grubber towards the goal line. The Highland contingent on the side line and stand are annoyed with a possible missed opportunity. The rugby gods twist the knife on Dundee again as the covering defender spills the ball as he tries to gather, and it bounces straight into the hands of Kevin Brown to canter in for a try. Kev swore he had to keep running to make Stuart look good. Once again Rory Carson landed the conversion. (68mins: 19-40)
Just 4 mins later Dundee’s bad day was about to get worse. From a line out around the Highland 10m line, Hugo Crush sent a high ball behind the defence towards the left touch line, strongly chased by Magnus Henry who forced the defender to carry over his own line and touch down. Goal line drop out. However, Dundee stand off Fraser MacKay is clearly not happy about something that happened up the field and is in an animated discussion with the ref. That leads to the ref yellow carding him for chat, and awarding Highland a penalty.
This close in Highland look to take advantage of their scrum dominance, and choose the set piece. In a near carbon copy of his earlier try, Calum MacPherson picks up at 8 and drives towards the posts. There is more resistance this time but with the aid of a few team mates and some twisting and turning he gets his third try after the ref consulted with his assistant referee. Rory Carson completes his impressive display with the boot with his 6th successful conversion of the day. (74mins: 19-47).
This was to be the last score of the game.
FULL TIME : Dundee Rugby 19-47 Highland RFC
All in all a great day for Highland, and a good start to the season. The coaches and players , as usual, know they have work on’s. But for a first hit out of the season it was a pretty good performance. The pack fronted up and dominated not only in the scrum by also in the line out where Grant Jameson, Callum Carson, and Euan Milton won a steady stream of ball off Kev Brown’s throwing. Rory Mighton, and Grant Jamieson (as usual), got through a power of work. Calum MacPherson got three tries, and a hefty bar bill for the beers, after scoring a hat-trick of tries on his return to league action in Highland colours. He probably ran a total of 25m for his tries but it was the power and determination that impressed, as well as his work elsewhere.
It was pleasing to see young Svend Dale Pedersen returning to first team action in the 2nd row after breaking his leg in the away game at Melrose last season. Also Asaeli Saumaka did a job in the scrum and in the loose when he came on in the front row. Jonny Milton just did Jonny things, with several barnstorming runs, just falling short of getting a try at what must be his favourite ground after scoring here last season. The front rows did a great job today.
As an ex prop forward I shouldn’t offer any opinion on back play – but here’s my tuppence worth anyway. Rory Carson did all that was needed to keep Highland going the right way, providing a good link between forwards an backs. Kicking well from hand as well as the tee for the conversions. JJ (Timoci Waqanibau) and Jack Sutherland formed a new centre pairing which went pretty well. Jack making several cutting lines to make good progress on the park. JJ tackled all day long. Magnus Henry and Mikey Gordon contributed well with decent runs – though Mikey’s shin injury will need to be assessed for this weekend. Hugo Crush was full of running, and was in the right place at the right time to take the off loads for his two scores.
Womens 1st XV opening League fixture cancelled
Unfortunately this weekends fixture at Canal Park, against Stornoway Women was cancelled as the away team had insufficient players to field a team.
Having looked at the SRU website it appears the game has been forfeited, as sites shows the score as
Highland Women 28-0 Stornoway Women
Unfortunately the same thing happened in the Caithness v Fraserburgh tie, when Fraserburgh couldn’t field a team.
Let’s hope that the Women can finally kick off their league campaign away to Moray this coming weekend, 9th Sept.
Raptors win big on Caley North Div 1 debut
I’m afraid I have little information on this game other than I can tell you the final score was
Highland RFC 2XV 48-12 Aberdeenshire RFC
The Raptors were trailing 5-7 after a tight first half, and it would appear that ‘Shire indiscipline may have played a part as they received 3 yellow cards whilst also playing into a strong wind in the 2nd half.
U18 Boys will gain confidence from big win
After last weeks loss to a good Dumfries Saints side, the Highland U18 boys will have gained some confidence from their win.
Once again I have no information on this game other than to say that coach John MacLennnan reported the final score as
Highland RFC U18 Boys 60-10 Dunfermline RFC U18 Boys.