South of Scotland 50
ALAN LORIMER @ Netherdale
SOUTH OF SCOTLAND celebrated the return of the Inter-District Championship, albeit an abbreviated version this season, with a handsome win over Edinburgh in front of a crowd of 1,500 at Netherdale, with a performance that owed much to the Borderers’ strong forward play.
Throughout the match, South’s forwards were in the ascendant and little wonder given that it was built around the men who delivered the League/Cup double for Hawick with outstanding contributions from No 8 Jae Linton and the front-row of Shawn Muir, Fraser Renwick and Nicky Little. The wonder was that the Hawick forwards in the South side managed to produce such sustained quality given they had little time to recover from the Cup final on Saturday.
“It’s a quality pack,” acknowledged the South head coach, Matty Douglas. “You see the boys who are in there and the boys who are on the bench. We were able to replace like with like”.
Behind the scrum, it was a much more equal contest but South had key players in Struan Hutchison at stand-off and Craig Dods at inside-centre, who delivered when it mattered. “Backwise we might have done with a bit more accuracy but I thought that Craig Dods put us in the right place. I thought he was immense tonight” added Douglas.
South also looked the more cohesive side, reflecting the time spent with the squad. “We had three very good sessions. We’ve had about 37 players training over the three weeks and that showed in our structure. I thought defensively we were bang on,” suggested Douglas.
The South coach continued: “It was just a great occasion for these boys with 1,500 people coming along to see the game. They’ve put hard work in and deserve the plaudits. Overall, they can be proud of that performance”.
For Edinburgh, there were tidy performances from Jamie Loomes at stand-off, Rhys Davies and Finlay Simpson in the back-row and Charlie Brett at full back. But overall Edinburgh were too much on the back foot to seriously challenge South.
“We had to ask so much of ourselves in defence,” stated Bob McKillop, the Edinburgh head coach. “I thought we defended pretty well for 70 percent of the game. We didn’t get the ball through more than three or four phases all game. We gave South too many easy entries to our 22 and they’re pretty efficient in the red zone. They had a very strong pack built around a very successful Hawick team.”
Somewhat in contradiction to what was to be a big win for South, it was Edinburgh who struck first with a try under the posts by second-row Ali McCallum from an initial break by Brett and support from Ruari Campbell, the simple conversion put over by Loomes.
South hit back with aplomb and with a try from a dominant scrum that allowed veteran half-back Bruce Colvine to break clear down the blindside. In support was Linton, who had the power and pace to reach the line for a spectacular score.
Dods missed the conversion kick but minutes later the Gala man was on the money when he put over a 40 metre penalty kick that gave South a one point lead.
South’s advantage extended with a clever try made by a perfectly weighted kick by Dods and the follow-up by Kelso’s Dwain Patterson, who had tracked across from his right wing to score in the opposite corner.
Edinburgh’s misery continued when Muir crashed over after Andrew Mitchell had been tackled short of the line, Dods’ conversion making it a seven pointer.
Dods then kicked his fourth goal when after a series of close-range drives, Bruce McNeil forced his way over to give South a useful 29-10 interval advantage.
Edinburgh managed to claw back some lost ground at the beginning of the second half with a try by Davies from a Loomes’ break and support from Simpson. Loomes added the extras but that was it for the visitors as South turned on the heat in the final quarter.
Renwick profited from a driven line-out, Luke Pettie bundled over from two metres out and then Ronan McKean, taking a long cut-out pass from Hutchison touched down in the corner, all three late scores converted by Dods to complete an excellent performance off the tee.
the winner of Saturday’s clash between Caledonia and Glasgow in Inverness meeting at Braidholm (GHA’s home group in the south side of Glasgow) on 21st May. The losers of the two semi-finals will also meet in the third/fourth place play-off.
The South will now play the winer ofSaturday’s clash between Caledonia and Glasgow in Inverness in this year’s Inter-District Championship final at Braidholm (GHA’s home group in the south side of Glasgow) on 21st May. The losers of the two semi-finals will also meet in the third/fourth place play-off. The hope is that the tournament will become a round-robin tournament, as it was pre professionalism, next season.
South: K Ford (Hawick); D Patterson (Kelso), A Mitchell (Hawick) C Dods (Gala), R McKean (Hawick); S Hutchison (Melrose), B Colvine (Melrose); S Muir (Hawick), F Renwick (Hawick), N Little (Hawick), A McColm (Selkirk), S Fairbairn (Hawick), B McNeil (Kelso), L Scott (Gala), J Linton (Hawick). Substitutes; M Carryer, (Hawick), L Pettie (Selkirk), C Owenson (Musselburgh), M Badenhorst (Musselburgh), S Fairbairn (Hawick), C Renwick (Hawick), G Welsh (Hawick), F Robson (Kelso), D Crawford (Melrose).
Edinburgh: C Brett (Currie Chieftains); I Sim (Currie Chieftains), G Cannie (Currie Chieftains), N Armstong (Edinburgh Accies), L Wells (Edinburgh Accies); J Loomes (Edinburgh Accies), A Porteous (Stewart’s Melville); C Imrie (Edinburgh Accies), R Stewart (Currie Chieftains), G Carson (Currie Chieftains), J Sword (Stewart’s Melville), A McCallum (Currie Chieftains), F Simpson (Edinburgh Accies), R Davies© (Currie Chieftains), R Campbell (Edinburgh Accies). Substitutes: D Dineen (Heriot’s), C Anderson (Currie Chieftains), J Lascelles (Heriot’s), G Nelson (Currie Chieftains), A Johnston (Heriot’s), C Lessels (Currie Chieftains), B Heber (Watsonians), B Morris (Watsonians).
Referee: Calum Lazenby
South: Tries Linton, Patterson, Muir, McNeil, F Renwick, Pettie, McKean; Cons Dods 6; Pen: Dods.
Edinburgh: Tries McCallum, Davies; Cons: Loomes 2; Pen: Loomes.
Scoring Sequence (South first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 8-7; 13-7; 15-7; 15-10; 20-10; 22-10; 27-10; 20-10 (h-t) 29-15; 29-17; 34-17; 36-17; 41-17; 43-17; 48-17; 50-17.
Man-of-the-Match: Gala’s Craig Dods may be past his youthful days but tshe son of the Scotland and Lions full-back Peter Dods, is playing the best rugby of his career as he showed in this South win by kicking kicking shrewdly from hand and complementing this with accuracy off the tee for a 15 points tally. Moreover, the inside-centre showed skill in defence and didn’t flinch when asked to chop down Lewis Wells in full flight.
Talking point: It’s actually happened. The district championship is back and proving popular with rugby fans, 1,500 of whom turned up at Netherdale to watch a high scoring match,. Hopefully, with ten team leagues the norm next season, space can be made for a fully blown district competition – certainly this opening salvo augers well.