It was a nervy start from both sides with a lack of composure showing in knock-on’s and misplaced kicks. Dundee settled quicker, and loose head Longwell crashed over for their opening try after 5 minutes. Bruce Colvine nipped in for a Melrose score a few minutes later, but in truth that was the only time Melrose looked like scoring in the 1st half, and with Jack Steele grabbing an opportunistic 2nd try for Dundee after 30 minutes & Jamie Urquhart landing a penalty & conversion it was High who led 15-5 at the break.
The second half continued in a similar fashion with Dundee dominating possession. Last year’s Premier 1 Player of the Season Richie McIver, on for the injured Levison, scored Dundee’s 3rd try. Melrose stuttered into action intermittently and scored tries through Ross Miller and Alan Walker, but their attack was too inconsistent, and a mistake littered second half gave Jamie Urquhart 5 penalty shots at goal, 4 of which he goaled to win the game 32-19.
Talking Points? Melrose stated after the game Dundee were the poorest set piece they had faced all season, and presumably they believed that because they kept opting for scrums rather than kicks when they were awarded penalties.
I beg to differ.
I wouldn’t pretend to know anything about front row play, but in Stevie Longwell Dundee High have unearthed a prop who is aggressive with ball in hand & made the hard yards repeatedly, and young Gavin Robertson, standing in for the experienced strong man, Alan Brown, did enough to win his own team’s man of the match & lead the post-match dance warm down with his team mates!
For me the outstanding forward was Iain Wilson – a real livewire at open side; fast, creative, always on the shoulder of the man with the ball, linking play superbly. For Melrose 1 or 2 of their forwards looked off the pace, and John Dalziel spent a long time after the game questioning whether some of them were committed enough to wear the Melrose jersey.
With Andrew Skeen at 10, Melrose attempted to run the ball at every opportunity, but without the searing pace of Fraser Thomson at 15, too often their attack was pedestrian & predictable. This is the catch 22 for Scottish Premier 1 clubs – develop young Scottish players and you lose them to the pro game – Thomson, Dick and Wight are all at Glasgow now.
When Melrose latest prospect Sam Chalmers came on with 20 minutes left, an old Melrose spectator was heard to complain about ‘the coach’s son’ getting favoured treatment. Not a bit of it.
Hard as it is on our top clubs to lose exciting prospects this is the only way we will develop our best young players – early exposure to 1st xv rugby. Dundee play their own part in that – Andy Redmayne was put in their 1st XV when he was as skinny as a giraffe. Now that he is filling out he is fulfilling his promise and could yet follow Robert Harley as a hard tackling 6 in the pro game. Many promising Scottish youngsters go to Dundee to study and we need Dundee HSFP in Premier 1 to give them opportunity of top level rugby.
With a fine club structure & a top coach in Ian Rankin it’s to be hoped for the sake of the Scottish game as a whole this result provides the momentum to help Dundee HSFP retain their place in Premier 1.