The mid-November conditions my have offered up a bitingly cold afternoon, yet that didn’t deter the St Andrews Mens Rugby 3rd XI, who warmed the hearts of the fans in attendance at the Sports Centre with a confident showing against a plucky RGU outfit, eventually coming out on top 31-7.
With the top two mens teams playing away from home this match, coupled with the womens team playing simultaneously, all that was on offer on an afternoon that was beautifully crisp and sunny despite the frigid conditions, which started cold and only dropped as the sun slowly withdrew. This perhaps provided the reasoning for the high number of handling errors committed by both sides throughout, with RGU’s early territorial pressure stemming from such errors in the Saints ranks. Yet, after weathering the early storm, the hosts were first to get on the board as their fullback made a darting break from the halfway line before a simple feed to the outside centre in support who dashed over for a simple finish for 7-0.
Things would only get better after some more RGU probing. This time Tom Porter, lurking at the back, would steal the visitors’ lineout from within their own 22 and dash for the line, just having enough momentum to edge over, with the extras again being knocked over for 14-0. With a nice cushion now having been found, the Saints allowed the next phase of the game to get somewhat bogged down in an attrition battle in the middle of the park.
The cold conditions certainly made handling tricky and in this period in particular knock-ons were seriously hampering both sides’ ability to seize chances. With the clock ticking down on the half, RGU exerted some serious pressure but once again the Saints managed to repel this as the halftime whistle eventually blew. While this gave St Andrews a big psychological boost at the half, the Saints were well aware the game was very much still undecided. The Saints’ momentum however from how they finished the 1st half did lead them to storm out of the blocks in the second period.
After a prolonged period of attacking their third try came courtesy of a well worked flowing team move that was finished off by the outside centre. Straight from the restart however RGU, perhaps -sensing it was now-or-never if they were to get back in the contest, exerted pressure on the Saints’ try line before a forward pass stalled the move.
Soon after though the visitors’ pressure told as their number 8 broke free from some tired Saints tackles and ran in to give them a sniff at 21-7. The game was still very much on, as injuries started to take their toll for both teams and the match, somewhat predictably, began to open up. The Saints took advantage of this with a slick try started by a long rolling maul and at 26-7, suddenly appeared to be home and dry. RGU, to their credit, kept scrapping and thought they’d scored another through a fine individual effort by their winger, only for him to be unfortunately ruled to have marginally stepped into touch. Demoralised by this perhaps, the visitors allowed the Saints back into the 22, and a sweeping move by the hosts led to a fine finished by the left-winger, with the score being moved to 31-7, how it finished. It may not have been pretty for large swathes, but ultimately the 3s headed off to the evening festivities very content with their day’s work.