It would only have taken a cursory glance at the BUCS North B table to know that St Andrews were heavy favourites for their clash with Worcester last week at University Park.
Saints were second in the table, with five wins from their opening eight league games, whilst Worcester were rock bottom, without a win in their first seven games. Similarly, looking at their recent results only furthered the notion that Saints were on course for a big win. The team from the Auld Grey Toon had lost their past two, but their defeat against Manchester was as a result of a last-minute penalty and they only succumbed by a point to Durham the week before – Worcester were coming off a 106-7 defeat against Edinburgh that saw them concede 18 tries.
It may have been cold but some lovely clear skies and bright sunshine meant for good conditions and it only took about a minute for St Andrews to get their first points on the board. Worcester’s kick-off didn’t make the requisite 10 metres and Saints elected to try their luck in the scrum. However, even they would have been surprised with the ease with which they forced the Worcester pack back and with which captain Scott Docherty, playing this game at full-back, was able to dot down. Mr Docherty duly added the extras to give Saints the perfect start.
It didn’t take the Saints, shorn of many first-team regulars, long to add a second. Again, the scrum proved Worcester’s downfall and this time the beneficiary was Harry Jose, who went over in the corner. The kick was difficult and Mr Docherty was unlucky to see his conversion hit the post but he made amends just a couple of moments later with his second try of the game.
The Saints wrapped up the try scoring bonus point after 14 minutes thanks to Roland Walker’s try and they were five tries to the good after 20 minutes as Mr Docherty completed his hat-trick.
The full-back put a lovely kick over the top and he was the quickest to react, surging past the weak Worcester defence to touch down between the posts. He added the conversion to take his haul to 21 points and take the Saints’ lead to 31-0.
The mid-season training camp staged by Saints Rugby, the biggest and most attended in club history, seemed to have really given them the edge in this clash. They were clearly the fitter side and the fluidity amongst their backs was something to behold. They were able to take their feet off the gas a little before the halftime interval but still added another two tries. The first came from Mr Docherty, his fourth of the game and at the break, the Saints led 43-0.
Worcester, who in their defence were in the midst of their exam cycle and therefore were short on numbers, never got a foothold in the game and their performance was perhaps best encapsulated by a moment just before the interval.
They were awarded a penalty due to a Saints infringement at a ruck and after a Dan Biggar-esque pre-kick routine from the Worcester fly-half, he saw his kick thud against the post and fall safely to a Saints player. That was the closest Worcester got to troubling the scoreboard during the entire game and St Andrews extended their already sizeable lead in the first minute of the second half. Some excellent hands in the backs saw Scott MacGregor cross the whitewash and Mr Docherty added the conversion to take Saints to the 50-point mark.
Roland Walker then added another score for the home side, finishing off an excellent move started by Mr Docherty. Toby Hall added his name to the very long list of scorers with a late brace of tries, the second coming after a dazzling run from just inside the opposition half that saw the centre avoided several tackles with ease before Walker completed his hat-trick with the final play of the game. That left the final score at St Andrews 78, Worcester 0.
A 38-point haul from Scott Docherty was the standout performance from St Andrews but the team can be pleased with the quality of performance and the intensity they were able to maintain for the full 80 minutes.
Their prospects for the remainder of the season, as more players come back from injury, look incredibly strong and they will be hoping for a positive result next time out away against the University of Strathclyde next Wednesday. Indeed, St Andrews were undoubtedly boosted by news from Durham after their game as Durham’s third team, who narrowly edged out St Andrews the week prior, handed table toppers Edinburgh their first defeat of the season.
That leaves St Andrews second in the table, just one point behind their closest rivals with only a few games remaining. It may be too early to say, but at this point, it would be brave to bet against St Andrews from taking the league crown come the end of the season.
Their clash with Edinburgh at Peffermill on 1 March stands out as a proverbial 10-pointer and, based on both sides’ current form, a mouth-watering varsity rematch certainly lies in wait.