A late try double by Dundee High stand-off Fraser McKay lifted his side to a narrow victory against a brave Howe of Fife side who played a man down for nearly an hour.
The sending off of Howe tight-head Grant Henderson for dissent meant the Fifers, bottom of BT National League One, had to battle but they nearly produced a shock win, McKay second try with the last play of the game denying them.
Dom Martin had a try for Howe and four penalties, including what looked like being the game winner with just two minutes left, but fatigue told on the visitors in the end and Dundee retained the Rankin Bowl they won in the team’s last meeting.
Howe defended with some resilience in the first half hour and found themselves with a handsome lead, but minus two men before Dundee struck just before the break.
Dom Martin’s 23rd penalty broke the deadlock after a mistake-prone first quarter, but on the half hour referee Craig Clark lost patience after warning both captains about players questioning decisions.
At the next scrum he gave a penalty against Howe and tight-head Grant Henderson’s verbal reaction was enough for the ref to show him a straight red.
That just seemed to stiffen Howe’s resolve and two more Martin penalties as they enjoyed some possession at last had them out to a 9-0 lead, but when their captain and stand-off was yellow carded for an intentional knock-on, High had their chance.
They scrummaged the penalty against the depleted visitors and smashed forward for lock Jack Anderson to dive over the line, Fraser McKay adding the conversion.
Even two men down Howe looked to have greater purpose as the second half began and when Martin returned they quickly re-asserted their lead.
The stand-off had High in bother with two well-judged kicks over the top and when Howe won back possession in the home 22, they stayed patient until Martin dummied his way in under the posts, converting himself.
Dundee lost replacement prop Neil Dymock to a yellow card for retaliation, but finally got a grip on possession in the Howe 22 and worked a good driving maul for Dayle Turner to score, although it went unconverted.
Then Howe’s defence finally wilted and Fraser McKay picked his way through a splintered defence from just outside the 22 to put High ahead with a solo try, but it went unconverted.
That meant the gap was just a point for the final minutes and although Martin missed one penalty he landed another when High crept up offside.
However on the last move of the game Dundee moved it wide and McKay squirmed over from close range for the winning try, which he converted to secure the victory for the home side.
Dundee High Rugby: R Fairweather; I Matacagi, C Bowie, J Broadley, R Joy; F McKay, A Dymock (c); S Strachan, C Mathieson, A Brown; I Robertson, J Anderson; R Milne, D Turner, G Arnott.
Howe of Fife: S Gray; B Mitchell, D McIntyre, S Lathangie (c), E Cruickshank; D Martin, A Harley; S Player, C Crawford, G Henderson; N Rees, T Turpie; C Mann, J Lawrie, G Steedman.
Ref: C Clark