Forrester v Dalkeith
Dalkeith’s successful start to the league season has been built on a disciplined approach on the pitch and playing to their strengths. The team’s latest performance in Saturday’s fixture against Forrester RFC lacked both and the home team took full advantage to take Dalkeith’s unbeaten record and to drop them to fourth in the league, albeit with a game in hand.
The visitors were far from full strength, missing Montgomery, Smith, Swanson and Whitson, together with Steven, Barry and Andy Hamilton from their match day 22. The game began at frenetic pace with both teams willing to attack at pace, but with Dalkeith’s wide game clearly being restricted somewhat by the narrow pitch. Forrester look up for the contest though, their backs taking the ball on well in attack and forcing Dalkeith to back-peddle in defence. A kick ahead is then dealt with by Ross at full-back, only for the official to award an off-side penalty just inside the Dalkeith 22. The kick for goal is missed.
Forrester take the restart back to Dalkeith and after a couple of phases the visitors are again caught off-side and this time Forrester make no mistake and open the scoring with a penalty, 3-0.
Dalkeith have barely had the hands on the ball to this point and when possession finally comes their way they too show attacking endeavour, testing the home defence, with good hands in midfield and surging runs from Foster and Halliday, before Clugston’s probing kicks, have the defence scrambling to clear their lines. Dalkeith secure a penalty on the home 22 and Clugston opts for goal, the kick seems to happily clear the post only for the touch judge to keep his flag down and it remains 3-0.
Forrester secure possession and good interplay between backs and forwards moves them into the Dalkeith half, before a finely judged kick turns the defence and forces the visitors into conceding a line out 5m out. Forrester drive the maul over, but the official decides that it is held-up and awards a scrum. Dalkeith steal the scrum ball and seem to have cleared their lines only for a further penalty to be awarded and Forrester take the opportunity to increase their lead, 6-0.
After a high tackle by Halliday, Forrester take a penalty line and good hands in the backs seems to have created room for the try, only for the final pass to go forward. Some pedantic refereeing is clearly favouring the hosts and what seems a clear Forrester knock-on in midfield is let go as the home team secure a line out 10m from the Dalkeith line. This time there is no mistake and the backs draw the defence before releasing the last man over for the try, 13-0 with the conversion.
Dalkeith are not learning their lessons and the referee is continuing to find fault with their work at the tackle area, while apparently willing to ignore men continually coming off their feet from the other side, These offences are invariably within kicking distance of the Dalkeith posts, allowing Forrester another shot at goal and increasing their lead to 16-0 as half time approaches. HT
Dalkeith have a mountain to climb as the second 40 mins gets underway, having barely had the ball in their hands in the first half and being well shackled by the home defence when they have. Things start brightly though, with, not for the first time, Reid the instigator; with his direct running making good inroads into the home defence and with a final burst of pace he is over for Dalkeith’s opening score, 16-5.
Dalkeith then manage to quickly erode this impetus, by gifting Forrester an easily kickable penalty as they fail to deal decisively with an innocuous chip ahead from the home side. Forrester take the chance to add to their lead, making things 19-5.
When Dalkeith have some sustained possession, they begin to look more like their old selves and after winning a penalty, they go for the line out and then maul towards the home line, before Brady takes the chance to dance over from 5m out and suddenly the visitors are within a score at 19-12.
The home side are looking weary now and Dalkeith attempt to take the game to them in the hope of adding further to their score. However, time and again the referee pings them for tackle and off-side offences, which is stopping any structured build up of possession. The visitors are then reduced to 14 men when Richardson irks the referee once too often and Forrester take the opportunity to increase their lead to 22-12.
Still Dalkeith are looking like they can pull the game out of the fire, as tiring Forrester legs begin to leave more defensive holes. A further penalty line out is mauled upfield, only to be halted illegally, but loose ball is shipped to Clark who shows good pace to burst through the home defence for a fine try under the posts, 22-19, with Clugston’s conversion.
Just as Dalkeith look the team most likely to finish the stronger, Forrester seem to rediscover their zip and the final 15 mins of the match is a rather messy affair, as both sides strive for a decisive score and the referee’s whistle dominates the proceedings. Dalkeith are again caught out at the tackle and Forrester extend their lead to 25-19 through a penalty.
Dalkeith struggle on to the end, but can’t break down the home defence and are forced to leave with only a losing bonus point for their efforts, final score 25-19. A bad day at the office for Dalkeith who’s poor discipline in playing to the referee, was their downfall in this tighter than expected contest. Next match is a home fixture against Lismore RFC, 3.00pm KO at Kings Park.