Borderers Too Strong for Reds
Hawick Quins 34 – 0 Linlithgow
Saturday 28 January 2017
After the previous week’s stunning victory over third-placed North Berwick, Linlithgow RFC travelled to the Borders last Saturday to play Hawick Harlequins who are lying one place better, at second in BT East League One. This season, Hawick Quins have benefited from the demise of local neighbours Hawick YM with a number of good players switching to strengthen the Quins squad. Weather conditions meant that the game was moved to the artificial pitch at Volunteer Park, the home of Hawick Linden. The Reds had suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Harlequins earlier in the season at Mains Park and another major effort was going to be required.
The visitors began the game brightly with an early spell of sustained possession. An early chip forward by Jamie March gained a lot of ground but Harlequins managed to clear the danger. The Harlequins forwards were having the better of the early exchanges in the scrums and the Reds were trying to keep the play open. They did not help themselves, however, with a series of loose passes that prevented any continuity of play.
It was still a surprise when the home side drew first blood in the 13th minute following their first short spell of pressure. The Hawick player danced through Linlithgow’s defence to score under the posts and, while the footwork was good, the Reds will be disappointed that no one laid a hand on him. The straightforward conversion added the two points.
Jack Frame then had a break forward and the ball swept along the Reds back division, allowing for another spell close to the home side try line. Harlequins slowly forced play back upfield and after twenty minutes began to keep the ball in the visitors’ half. They even turned down two eminently kickable penalty opportunities, feeling confident that better rewards were coming.
The confidence was well placed, although the second try in the 29th minute owed a little once again to some loose defending as Harlequins powered over for a try wide on the left. The kick was missed. Three minutes short of the interval the home side scored in the opposite corner and, with this score also unconverted, the sides turned round with Hawick Harlequins leading 17-0.
The second half began in the same way as the first with the Reds exerting some early pressure. Steven Grant had a good run that took the ball close to the line. The Reds stayed there and Grant had another foray forward and then Cameron Dori-Muir went close. Although this spell lasted for the first five or ten minutes of the half, there was a lack of cutting edge and Harlequins rode out the storm and, once again, took play back into Linlithgow’s half.
In the 58th minute, Harlequins won a scrum on the five metres line and, with their continued dominance in the tight, it was not a great surprise when they drove over the line for a fourth try. The kick was missed but the home side had secured the bonus point and there was nothing in the game to suggest that there was a way back for Linlithgow from the 22-0 deficit.
So it proved, although Linlithgow continued also to contribute to their own misfortune. In the 75th minute, another loose pass went astray and Harlequins kicked ahead. Two home side players won the chase after the ball, with one touching down to score the try. This kick was successful.
Two minutes from the end, the Reds conceded another try from their own half with the Harlequins winger running three quarters the length of the field to score his side’s sixth try. This was one fewer than Harlequins managed at Mains Park back in October but on that occasion, the Reds had managed to get on the score sheet. This time, they ended up looking at a 34-0 whitewash.
The Six Nations games mean that Linlithgow Firsts’ next game is on 18 February when they face the runaway league leaders, Murrayfield Wanderers, in the BT Edinburgh Shield Final. The players will want to put the time to good use to eliminate some of the errors that crept into their game at Hawick and recapture some of the endeavour that worked so well at North Berwick.
Jack Frame; Ross Plenderleith, Fraser Mochrie, Chris Ronalson, and Euan Murray; John Chapman and Jamie March; Steven Grant, Euan Mochrie and Calum McKeown; Stuart Bell and Mark Caddle, Cameron Dori-Muir, Cal Thomson and Ross Martin.
Substitutes: Patrick Bennie, Stuart Young and Jamie Murrie.