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Young Reds Maintain Fine Away Record with Bonus Point Win

Portobello  24 – 27  Linlithgow

Saturday 18 October 2014

Linlithgow travelled to struggling Portobello, still buoyant after last week’s win over league leaders Dalkeith. However injuries and unavailability again forced changes and meant that the Reds squad included five members of last year’s Linlithgow Academy team, with four of them starting. In addition last year’s captain Billy Edment appeared at standoff for the first time.

It was breezy but very mild for the time of year as Portobello kicked off. However it was not the start that everyone expected. Almost immediately the home team got possession and with the help of some slick passing and weak tackling scored a try within the first three minutes, duly converted.  Worse was to come as the home side regained possession from the re-start and worked their way upfield to score in the corner, this time missing the conversion. 

Linlithgow quickly headed upfield and after some pressure Ross Oliver was sent in for a good try at the corner, the long conversion going wide. However, Linlithgow were under pressure right from the re-start as more good handling and missed tackes allowed Portobello to score a third try in the corner, again unconverted.

At this point the home backs were slicing through the Linlithgow defence too easily, as the decent away support looked on in disbelief. But Linlithgow regrouped and came back into the game with a vengeance, Ben Milne, making his debut on his 18th birthday, powering over and John Strachan added the conversion. With the momentum changing, Linlithgow scored again just before half time when Stuart Bell crashed through at pace to score under the posts, John Strachan making no mistake with the extra two points and taking the lead 19-17. However the coaching staff would have plenty to say at half time.

Linlithgow picked up from where they left off at the start of the second half, when substitute John Pauley crashed over in the corner, Strachan missing the difficult conversion. At this point Linlithgow seemed to be in command having now secured the bonus point, but they couldn’t press home the advantage and it was Portobello who scored next with their centre evading several tackles before offloading to an eager teammate who went in at the corner. To the delight of the home crowd the conversion was good and the match was tied with 20 minutes to go.

Linlithgow made changes with Strachan reverting to his more familiar standoff position and 17 year old James Timlin coming on for his debut to join the other four 18 year olds on the pitch and complete the youngest backline ever fielded in the history of the Club. From this point, Linlithgow always looked the more likely to score a try, but despite a valiant effort from Stuart Jamieson which fell short, they couldn’t cross the line and the winning score came from a penalty from John Strachan after a period of sustained forward pressure.

Portobello had a late flurry and Linlithgow had to defend a line out five yards out, but the game drew to a close, much to the relief of the Linlithgow camp. That’s four away wins out of four and while most people may have expected the margin of victory to be more, to those watching we were happy with the five league points in the end. Credit must be given to the youngsters who are deputising very well and gaining valuable experience. Final score 27-24.

Linlithgow XV:

Fraser Rankine; Ross Oliver, Ben Milne, John Strachan and Chris Bredin; Billy Edment and Dougie Thomson; Calum McKeown, Stuart Cunningham and Chris Archer; Stuart Jamieson and David Syme; Stuart Bell, Kyle Flucker and Patrick Bennie. Subs: John Pauley, Mikey Walker and James Timlin.

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