Reds at Duns (Sept 14)

Reds Edge out Duns in Tight Contest

Duns  3 – 8  Linlithgow

Saturday 13 September 2014

Last Saturday Linlithgow RFC travelled down to play Duns on their new pitch, which is part of the Borders Club’s redevelopment of its facilities. The sun was shining, as the game kicked off but the Reds faced an early setback when a penalty was awarded just inside their own half. The Duns player kicked the ball straight between the posts to put the home side ahead inside two minutes.

The Reds recovered and launched a good spell of pressure, although Duns looked dangerous on the counter-attack. Ross Oliver, the young full-back, had to make a good tackle to prevent a score before the Reds returned upfield. A good run by Euan Murray and some inter-passing saw Pat Bennie forcing his way towards the home side’s try line. The travelling support cheered a try but the referee decided that Pat had grounded the ball short of the line.

Soon after, Duns kicked ahead and the ball eluded the Reds No 15. The Duns player gathered and was at the try line when Chris Bredin tackled him. The Duns player was still in control before Ross Oliver recovered to force him to knock on behind the line.

On the half hour, Linlithgow missed a penalty and, as the game was heading for the interval, Duns were awarded a kickable penalty. Despite his heroic effort in scoring earlier, the Duns kicker miscued this effort which ran along the ground, leaving the half time score 3-0. Vice-captain, Graeme Crow, came on at half time for his first appearance of the season and certainly added considerable weight and solidity to the scrum.

After a brief spell of pressure from Duns right after the restart, the Reds began to increase the pace of the game. Tellingly also, the Linlithgow forwards began to exert dominance. Inter-passing from Alistair Wood, twice involved, and Euan Murray took the ball up to the Duns 22. The Duns defender was lucky not to receive a yellow card for killing play. The resulting penalty was kicked to touch and the Reds forwards drove the ball over the try line with Stuart Bell last to rise, ball in hand, putting Linlithgow 5-3 ahead, as the resulting conversion was narrowly missed.

The Reds forwards then pushed the Duns scrum back over ten metres to demonstrate their dominance and play was running towards the home side’s 22. Once again, some illegal handling on the ground from the home defence presented Ross Martin with a penalty opportunity and, this time, he successfully converted.

Duns were still looking dangerous when they broke forward. First, Andrew Wood produced a clearance kick from behind the Reds try line. Then scrum half, Mike Walker, covered the breadth of the field to make a try-saving tackle, knocking the Duns winger into touch. The clock was running down and Duns were pressing hard to rescue something from the game with the Reds reduced to 14 men, the referee having sent Ross Martin to the sin bin for one offence too many.

Linlithgow managed to lay hands on the ball and it was fitting that Ross Oliver, who had had a superb game, brought proceedings to a close when he kicked the ball out. The winning score line of 8-3 did not flatter the Reds, as they had produced most of the rugby but it was a close-run affair.

Linlithgow XV

Ross Oliver; Chris Bredin, Mark Green, Andrew Wood and Euan Murray; Fraser Rankine and Mike Walker; Calum McKeown, Stuart Cunningham and Chris Archer; Pat Bennie and Keir Waddell; Stuart Bell, Ross Martin and Alistair Wood. Subs: Graeme Crow, Fraser Mochrie and John Pauley