Reds Triumph in Fiesty Local Derby
Linlithgow 29 – 20 Livingston
Saturday 3rd March 2012
Last Saturday saw the final derby this season against local rivals Livingston with the possibility of a jump in league placing for the Reds if they got their act together. The selectors had the usual last minute difficulties but still the team that took the park was strong, and the weather was set fair with the usual wind.
Andy Birrell; Ross Plenderleith, Mark Green, Donald Bennie, Tyrone Watson; John Chapman, Mikey Walker; Matthew Archer, Stuart Cunningham, Jonny Cavana; Graeme McCallum, Charlie Gillanders[c]; Logan Black, Cal Thomson, Ross Martin.
Subs [all used]: Euan Gunn, Lewis Barnes, Connall Black
There was a minutes silence for Livingston stalwart Donald Naysmith who had lost a long battle and had passed away that morning.
The game started well for the Reds with the pack creating a lot of pressure, and after a penalty was just missed, John Chapman, at stand-off, showed how slippy he can be with a run into the 5-yard scoring area and the pack took over with Matthew Archer darting over for a try, new kicker Donald Bennie adding the conversion.
As was to be expected Livvy came back and their big No 8, Reynolds scored well out leaving winger Edwards to slot a tricky conversion. 7 – 7 until the half hour when Bennie added a penalty and he sent over a cracker of a conversion a few minutes later following a great Reds rolling maul with Charlie Gillanders scoring. The Reds kept the pressure up with John Chapman putting in some good kicks with the wind, and making ground with the ball in hand. Livvy came back just before the whistle with a penalty. Half-time and Reds 17 – 10 up.
The second half had hardly started when Chapman sent the ball down the left wing and after it had been bobbled about by both sides it eventually came to Archer who took advantage of a comedy of errors to score in the corner, Bennie adding a very difficult kick.
The Reds pressure and occupation of the Livingston territory continued and big Graeme McCallum just swerved out of a couple of would-be tackles to score near the same corner, without a conversion.
Chapman showed that he is a stand-off in the making with some decent kicking, and a couple of errors, and a fine fifty-yard break outpacing his support.
At 29 – 10, and with the four-try bonus point, the Reds could have been forgiven for thinking the game was in the bag. Well in a local derby anything can happen, and it did. With half an hour to go the pace picked up, as did the level and type of infringements and the referee was drowning in the increasing tension, and started to make mistakes, which in turn exacerbated the situation.
Livingston’s Edwards struck a good penalty and when Reynolds added his second try and Edwards struck again the Reds comfortable margin had disappeared. With five minutes to go, at 29 – 20, and the ball going up and down the park like a yoyo, tempers were overcoming sense on both sides and there were a few exchanges. With five minutes left, Edwards, with probably his easiest kick, bounced the ball off the upright, it was gathered and in the next few minutes the ref dished out sin bin cards to each side. The game went into the middle of the park, Edwards missed from long range and the whistle blew up.