Carnoustie rugby men’s vital win

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Carnoustie returned to duty for their first game since before Christmas against fellow league front runners Harris, whose only defeat was at home to the FPs.

The pitch was heavy with a gale blowing down the pitch and a bitterly cold wind chilling players and supporters.

Harris got the game going with Carnoustie fielding and kicking with the wind causing Harris to knock on. The home side won the scrum with Harris straying offside.

FPs found touch and drove the line out ball but were penalised. The visitors found touch and sent the ball wide from the line before again gaining a penalty. Harris then again sent the ball wide, but Carnoustie, exerting pressure, caused the ball to be dropped.

From the scrum the homesters kicked but the wind carried the ball over the dead ball line. From the scrum ball Harris played wide but solid defence forced the ball into touch.

Carnoustie then drove strongly forward to gain a penalty. Touch was found but the line-out throw was not straight. The visitors cleared their lines, but FPs, from a penalty, found touch and drove infield from the line out, then sent the ball into mid field and drove again. The ball was recycled to Chris Rankin who dummied to the right, checked and flicked the ball to Dannie Van Neikerk who found space to touch down under the posts with Danny Van Wyk converting for 7-0.

Harris restarted and the home side failed to clear the ball and to add to their difficulties conceded a penalty which the visitors converted. (7-3)

Carnoustie restarted and with Harris, driving again, conceded a penalty. They made amends by winning the line-out, driving strongly to the line but were held up. The scrum was lost and a penalty conceded. The Dundee side found touch with minimum yardage gained.

FPs again won the line out and drove, recycled and drove again, recycled with the ball popped to Anthony Franco who broke at pace to touch down with no conversion added. (12-3)

Harris restarted with Carnoustie kicking, the ball carried and Harris touch down. From the drop out the home side gained a penalty, found touch and drove from the line-out, only to drop the ball allowing Harris to clear and bring the half to an end.

Half-time: Carnoustie 12, Harris 3.

Carnoustie restarted after half-time with Harris fielding and returning the kick which FPs ran before gaining a penalty which came to nothing. The visitors were now in their stride pressing forward in numbers especially on the left side but not really testing the home defence, who stood shoulder to shoulder without being drawn out of position.

Penalties were at times conceded but out of kicking range.

Carnoustie then gained forwards momentum with the ball sent wide but being stopped and again through the hands but knocked on. Harris now on the defensive tried to slow the game down but conceded penalties. Because of the wind no great yardage could be made, although it allowed the FPs to be comfortable with their field position.

With more ball Carnoustie were now probing for opening but mishandling brought moves to a halt until a strong drive from a line out saw the ball being held up. From five-metre scrum was set and the ball won and sent wide, the pass went behind the centre but bounced and was grabbed by winger Michael Downie who ran clear to touch down, with no conversion added it was 17-3.

Carnoustie continued to play down the right and Michael Downie made several darts without getting clear. Harris then pressed forward again into the home twenty two but the ball went loose and Carnoustie found Michael Downie again who ran some sixty metres.

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He looked clear but a despairing tap tackle brought him to the ground, he flipped the ball away, Harris defence recovered in time, they held the ball carrier up allowing the referee to blow for full-time.

Team - M. McQueen, L. Thoms, R. Coates, G. Johns, M. Downie, D. Van Wyk, C. Rankin, A. Schweizer, K. Watt, D. Campbell, O. Schweizer, O. Hughes, A. Franco, I. Reid, D. Van Neikerk, K. Franco, S. Millar, D. Findlay, C. Dawson and C. Murray.

Carnoustie 1st XV’s fixture tomorrow (Saturday) is a home game against league leaders Alloa. This is back to a 3 p.m. kick-off at Carnoustie High School.