Apr 16 2010 Dumfries Standard Friday
AFTER sixty years of the trying, Dumfries Saints finally secured the McDonald Cup and won their own Sevens competition.
There has been plenty of heartbreak over the years with Saints losing in the final on many occasions but this year they did it!
Park Farm basked in sunshine as ten teams competed in two groups of five for places in the Cup final and the McTurk Shield final.
The afternoon started disappointingly with Saints losing their first pool tie 24-19 against previous winners Jedforest.
Saints never really settled into their rhythm and worryingly didn't compete well at the breakdown or the set piece, despite two tries from Kenny Henderson and one from Andrew Whiteford they lost out.
With hindsight this may have been a good thing as it took the pressure off the home team and they started to focus on playing good sevens rather than winning the cup.
In their second tie they destroyed Langholm, retaining possession and discovering the hard edge in defence to compete for ball and turnovers.
Tries flowed from Kenny Henderson (3), Villy Satala, Andrew Whiteford (2) and James Currie as they ran out comfortable 47-0 winners.
Third up were the President’s VII, called upon when a visiting side pulled out.
The President’s VII side played with real heart but lacked the speed and skill to challenge the Saints who, with tries from Kenny Henderson (2), Jamie Farquhar (2), Andrew Whiteford (2), Daniel Henderson and Sam Hiddleston, ran out 52-0 winners.
By now the Saints were showing some good form and they got their lucky break when Hawick YM defeated Jedforest 34-12 to open up the pool.
Saints needed to beat Hawick in their last pool game to go through to the final and score sufficient points to get there on points difference.
Saints started their crucial game with a real fire and, from the off, dominated the Hawick side who didn't know what had hit them.
Electric running from Kenny Henderson led to the first try and good work from Sam Hiddleston put Jamie Farquhar in for the second.
As Hawick struggled to get into the tie, Daniel Henderson scooped up loose ball and put Villy Satala in for the try.
Crucially from the kick-off, Sam Hiddleston clattered the receiver knocking the ball loose and Villy raced away for his second.
This knocked the stuffing out of the Hawick side and second half tries from Jamie Farquhar and Sam Hiddleston completed a 38-0 victory.
In the other pool, Hawick Harlequins had dominated with a big side. However the Saints Second Squad had fought hard all afternoon and with wins over Selkirk, Gala YM and the Jedforest Second squad to earn a well-merited place in the McTurk Shield final.
During the course of the group stages, the B side were delighted to welcome back Jonnie Campion and Daniel McKiddie, two talented youngsters, recent graduates from the club’s Colts set-up.
The mix of older heads Rennie, Bryden, Renwick and Haggerty alongside teenagers Little, Riddick, Campion and McKiddie worked well and the inclusion of guest Graeme Gemmell added some composure in a very young backline.
The second squad were well beaten in the first tie by a good Hawick Quins side destined for the final.
In the other three games Saints comfortably beat Jed 2 before a tight game and narrow victory over Selkirk.
They entered the final group game knowing that a win over Gala YM would see them progress further. Saints comprehensively outplayed their border opponents to reach the McTurk shield final for the second consecutive season.
In the Shield final, Saints 2 faced the Jedforest first side. Despite some great work from Alex Bryden, Michael Rennie, Justin Little and the squad it proved a game too far as they went down 28-7.
This was a great effort and the team took some notable scalps in the pool games.
Saints kicked off in the main final with it all to play for.
The opening minutes were tense as both sides probed to find a way through but were wary not to over stretch themselves and leave gaps.
Saints made the first break with Kenny Henderson going 80 yards before deciding to pass inside to Andrew Whiteford and get the score nearer the posts.
The pass went astray and Saints supporters wondered if this was going to be another heartbreak final.
Saints finally got some reward for constant pressure and Jamie Farquhar raced over for the crucial first score, half time and Saints held a narrow 5-0 lead.
Saints started the second half with determination and ran a set move from a line out which resulted in Andrew Whiteford racing in under the posts.
Saints’ nerves settled as Andrew raced away for another within minutes.
The clincher came when Kenny Henderson skipped through the tiring Quins defence to stretch it to 24-0.
Jamie Farquhar got another before Quins secured a consolation score. The final score went appropriately to Player of the Tournament Kenny Henderson as Saints ran out 36-7 winners.
This was a great squad effort and Sam Hiddleston must have given the Player of the Tournament judges a hard decision with some outstanding performances.
Congratulations must go to all the squad and coach Shaun McGauchie for achieving something Saints have been trying to do for 60 years.
McDonald Cup squad: Villy Satala, Daniel Henderson, Sam Hiddleston, Andrew Walker, Jamie Farquhar, Andrew Whiteford, Kenny Henderson, James Currie, Graeme Minty, Stuart Burgess.
McTurk Shield squad: E Bryden; S Renwick; M Rennie; B Haggerty; J Campion; G Gemmell; K Riddick; Justin Little; D McKiddie
President's Squad: R Davidson; S Lethardy; E Sloan; R Mair; I Kerr; A Taylor; B Farish; B Milligan; Leon Stanus; Bennie; S Fraser.