Match Report versus Dundee

Saturday 6th March 2020

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For the third week there were personnel changes in the team and some shuffling with positions for the visit to Whitecraigs at Newton Mearns. In the backs, Sam Rowlands went to 15, Ben Mitchell on the wing, with Cammy Walker on the other wing, Dylan Suttie came into 10, in the centre a first start was given to the experienced Sean Murray. For the forwards, Ben Peddie started at prop with Rory Johnstone at hooker. George Henderson came back into the second row. On the bench it was good to see Fijian Robert Cabemaiwasa along with Dave Hodge and Ally Brunton.

Last year, the second last game of the season here at Aurs Road had been a very high scoring match, it was hard to envisage the same happening again. Early exchanges and willingness of both sides to move the ball wide, seemed to suggest otherwise.

Whitecraigs produced the first of their eight tries from winger Aaron Graham, the conversion popped over from a very reliable and accurate kicker in their 9, Steven Gillies. The response was immediate from Howe. A strong run from Andy Steven into the host’s half was supported by Scott Teister, who knocked on. From the field position, centre Gregor Smith powered over to reduce the leeway to 5-7.

There then followed a fallow spell for Howe. Unable to get control of the ball, and badly missing first up tackles, gave Whitecraigs momentum to produce four consecutive tries, from Callum Innes, Brandon Wamberg , Graham Murchie and Liam Barbour. Three converted by Gillies. At 5-33 the position looked bleak with Howe. During this time, for Howe, Mitchell retired injured, Cabemaiwasa replaced Henderson, Hodge took up the centre berth with Smith replacing Mitchell on the wing.

When in possession of decent ball and benefiting from the power of Mann and Cabemaiwasa, Howe began to create space to give their speedy backs, particularly Murray and Hodge, opportunities. Before the break, Hodge dodged over after some excellent inter-passing and continuous phase play. Suttie converted to enter the break still heavily adrift 12-33.