Dalziel Rugby Club
DALZIEL Rugby Club finished their Premier Three campaign in seventh place after a narrow 27-25 defeat against Haddington on Saturday.
It’s the club’s highest finish in league rugby for 20 years but will be looked upon with mixed feelings after a great start to the season.
The Motherwell outfit won six of their opening eight league fixtures but lost their next 10 as well as three national cup matches.
Victory over Perthshire in mid-April eased any relegation concerns and a win the following week over Dunfermline allowed them to secure a comfortable mid-table position.
On Saturday at Neilson Park, Dalziel started brightly and looked intent on playing some running rugby in the final game of the season.
Two early penalty attempts were dismissed when full-back Robert Simpson opted to go for touch although both kicks were put dead in goal.
Haddington took a 3-0 lead when flanker Ryan Alderman kicked a penalty goal.
Dalziel responded almost immediately from the kick-off.
Crawford Reid gathered the ball and set up a ruck which saw a Haddington player come in from the side, resulting in a Dalziel penalty.
Simpson pulled them level from the tee.
Haddington weren’t level for long and from a series of rucks they managed to pull the Dalziel backline in to create an overlap, second row Quinton Caulfield eventually going over in the corner for the opening try.
Haddington again infringed from kick-off allowing Simpson to reduce the gap to two points with another penalty.
Another infringement on the 30-minute mark saw Haddington’s Caulfield sent to the sin bin for the remainder of the first half.
The extra man allowed Dalziel space off a line out to spread the ball wide to Simpson who scored in the corner.
With the conversion missed, Dalziel had a 11-8 half-time lead.
Haddington blew Dalziel away in the opening 15 minutes of the second half to open up a commanding 27-11 lead.
Caulfield completed his hat-trick with his second row partner Laurence Lappin also getting on the scoresheet to secure a try bonus point
Following Scott Johnstone’s debut the previous week at Morgan, 18-year-old David Irvine entered the field of play for his first XV debut in place of George Sloan.
Dalziel began battering the Haddington try line, running every penalty opportunity.
Haddington were struggling to contain Dalziel’s quick play and skipper Craig Simmonds powered over for Dalziel’s second try which scrum half Ross Donnachie converted.
Dalziel continued the onslaught and began a series of pick-and-go's which culminated in Irvine scoring a try on debut from close range.
Donnachie again converted but that was the final act despite Haddington being reduced to 14 men for the final 10 minutes of the game after Caulfield was sent off for a second yellow card.
This season also saw Dalziel’s 2nd XV finishing fourth in National Reserve League Two.
The 3rd XV won Reserve League West Three.