Dundee’s superb season which has taken them to second place in Premier A and a place in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup, came to a sad and grinding halt when they lost to Caledonia rivals Stirling County, a result which confirms Melrose as Scottish champions.
There was no chance of the Taysiders chasing down the 52 points required to snatch the title from Melrose after falling behind in only seven minutes to Stirling County, who are now in next season’s British & Irish Cup. Worse was to come after 18 minutes when winger Graham Lindsay added to Alex Moffat’s earlier try to make it 12-0, leaving Dundee with an impossible mountain to climb.
In fairness, the home side came to their senses as the half progressed and in 24 minutes scrum-half Andy Dymock went over after some fine handling from his back division. The home recovery continued in 33 minutes when winger Andy McLean raced in under the posts for a try converted by winger Jack Steele.
The game then deteriorated into a midfield battle with neither side incisive or imaginative enough to take control.
Ironically, it was only when Stirling County were reduced to 13 men just after 70 minutes that the game came to life. Full-back Ben Addison and flanker Steve Swindall were sent to the sin bin for identical offences, having knocked on deliberately under the watchful eye of referee Andy McPherson.
Dundee should then have taken control but instead the Bridgehaugh side scored two late tries to stun the weary Dundonians. Centre Danny Gilmour and stand-off Stuart Edwards ran through the static home defence in 73 and 76 minutes to grab a vital bonus point. “It is a great result for us, we never gave up and I look forward to next season,” said Graeme Young, the County head coach.
Home coach Ian Rankin was naturally disappointed but said: “No matter what happened today I like to think that we have gained the respect of the rugby establishment over the season. We lived and died by the sword this afternoon but I am disappointed for the guys.”