Academy Cup Match – Teams Serve Up a Christmas Cracker!
Linlithgow Academy Select (Reds) 7 – 24 Linlithgow Academy Recent FPs (Blues)
In perfect playing conditions and on a gloriously sunny but crisp day, the Christmas crowd were thoroughly entertained by one of the best matches seen this year at Mains Park. It may not have had the drama of the Reds’ last play league win against Dalkeith, but similar levels of commitment were on display from both sides. Add to this mix what was probably the try of the season to date and you’ll see why the crowd left with smiles on their faces!
The FPs (in blue) won the toss and elected to kick off and spent most of the first half in their opponents half. However, it took them nearly 15 minutes to break down a resolute home defence, superbly marshalled and led by captain Euan Mochrie. Time and again, the Blues thought they had made the breakthrough only to be mown down by determined tackling and resolute defence.
The first score, when it came owed much to the outstanding blue back row – indeed all three Blue tries in the first half were scored by back-rowers – with Lewis Herdman’s determination and skill taking him past three defenders to stretch over the whitewash and claim the game’s first points. John Strachan duly converted.
A bit like buses, you wait ages for one and then two come along at once and it was like this for the Blues, as they crossed again, this time in the far right hand corner with No 8 Cameron Dori-Muir claiming the points. John Strachan’s touchline conversion attempt was well struck, but just drifted across the posts.
This time the Reds came out guns blazing and put together some excellent play to take them right to the Blues’ try-line. First No 8 Cammy McAndrew and then captain Euan Mochrie were denied from surges which were stopped on the line. However the pressure was relieved and play moved back to the Reds’ half where, after a period of further pressure, Stuart Mitchell claimed the Blues’ third try shortly before half-time to conclude the first half scoring.
Half-time: Reds 0 – 17 Blues
The second half saw the introduction of some guest players for the Reds, which helped them achieve parity in the scrum – the only area of the game that the Blues had out-gunned the Reds in the first half. The Blues also made a few changes and it took the first ten minutes of the second half, with scrappy play and lots of scrums, for the changes to both sides to bed in fully.
Play then ranged up and down the field as both sides sought the ascendancy. The thrusts of the Reds in the loose, with Ross Martin and Chris Archer to the fore, began to take their toll and it was no surprise when sustained pressure in the Blues’ 22 led to Chris Archer crashing over near the posts – a try which Stuart Kelly duly converted.
The game had really opened up by now and excellent play from both sides kept the crowd entertained. The climax came with a superb try from the Blues in a wide ranging move with the ball going through many pairs of hands as the Blues first broke into the Reds’ half, before swinging the ball out right. With two men outside him, but with the Reds’ defence on full out drift, Fraser Mochrie swept outside his man and then checked inside against the grain of the defence, ball in two hands. He was rewarded with a support runner on his inside to keep the move going at pace and when the ball was popped to Lewis Herdman in support at pace on the 22, a try looked certain. However a great cover tackle brought Lewis down a few metres out. Great presentation of the ball and robust support saw the ball popped up to Ross Oliver and the young back dived over the despairing defence for a superb try which had the crowd in raptures.
John Strachan’s well struck conversion evened the second half scoreline at 7-7, with Tom Townend’s Blues claiming the match and the Academy Cup by a final score of 24 – 7.
Afterwards, the coaches nominated Sean Hagerty as the Blues’ player of the match and Euan Mochrie the Reds’ player of the match, with Euan getting the consolation for his team as overall Homme-du-Match!