Stags win Penultimate League Match
By Dominic Ward
Stags Win in Dundee in final away match of the season
For their final away game of the season the Stags took the road and the miles to Dundee to take on Harris. The Tayside club have had a difficult season sitting bottom of the table with just 2 wins all season. Grangemouth were missing a few regulars but still fielded a fairly strong team with Dempsey switching to scrum half, Gemmell and Rutherford in the centre, Forsyth on the wing and Christie at prop. On a bright but very windy day the Stags played uphill in the first half and were quickly on the attack and opened the scoring after just 3 minutes. From a scrum 30 metres out Hind and Dempsey combined to release Mclay and, when tackled, the fullback passed back inside to the supporting Hind to dive over for the score. Skelton was unable to add the conversion. Grangemouth continued to dominate the early possession with the set scrum well on top of the home eight. On 15 minutes the pack drove Harris off the ball at a 5 metre scrum and Dempsey had the simple task of diving over from close range. This time Skelton was on target with the extras. Harris gradually came into the game as the Stags were guilty of some loose play and giving away numerous penalties. Forsyth made a good cover tackle to prevent a score as the home side pinned the Stags inside their 22. On 25 minutes after a series of drives close to the line Kerry intercepted and made 40 metres before being tackled. Soon after Harris did manage their first score as they took a tap penalty and good support play saw the wing forward run in under the sticks for a converted try. Grangemouth hit back immediately. Rutherford took a crash ball from a lineout to set up play on the Harris 22. The forwards recycled the ball through several phases before releasing the ball wide. Rutherford was again part of the move and when he was tackled just short of the line Christie was on hand to score from very short range. Skelton slotted thew conversion. Soon after another sweeping move involving Rutherford and Kerry should have resulted in a score in the corner but the scoring pass was knocked on. Just on half time another solid set scrum allowed Dempsey to pick up and skip past a static defence to score his second try This time Skelton was unable to add the extras. HT Harris 7 Stags 24
Grangemouth made a slow start to the second period and this allowed the home side to grab their second score. Some poor defence at the breakdown allowed the home scrum half to dart round the side of the ruck before giving the scoring pass to his support to run in under the posts. The Stags responded with a well worked try. Dempsey ran the ball back from a clearance kick to take play into the Harris 22. Backs and forwards combined through several phases before the ball was moved wide with a take and give from Hugh creating the space for Gemmell to scamper in for his score. Skelton was on target with the conversion. On the hour mark the Stags drove a lineout up to the Harris line with Kerry crashing over for the score. Skelton slotted the conversion. The closing quarter saw the Stags reduced to 14 with Hugh given a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. Despite the numerical disadvantage Grangemouth were next to score. A backs move in midfield saw the ball moved out to the wing and the inside pass found Skelton in support to run in for the score. The stand off converted his own try. The closing minutes saw some poor defence from the Stags allow Harris to score in the corner. There was just time for another 40 metre rumble from Kerry but again his efforts went unrewarded as the team were unable to finish off the break. FT Harris 19 Stags 45
This was an uneven performance by the Stags. The set scrum was well on top and they had most of the possession. However they were guilty of some loose passing at times and failing to hold on to the ball. In addition they gave away far too many penalties. There were some strong individual performances with Rutherford enjoying his dual role of crash centre and back up prop. There was a man of the match performance from Kerry. In addition to his try and interception he made several other 30-40 metre runs which should have produced further scores. On this form he could well win the Most Improved Player Award at the end of season dinner. The Stags have another free week this Saturday before they finish the season on 6 April when Harris come to Glensburgh with KO 3pm.