Reds Comfortably Retain
West Lothian Cup
Livingston 0 – 31 Linlithgow
Saturday 4th January 2020
Report by David Mitchell
Linlithgow travelled across the Bathgate Hills to renew their rivalry with traditional New Year opponents Livingston at Almond Park on Saturday 4th January. Since 1985 the two clubs have competed for what was originally called the WLDC Challenge Cup, now referred to as the West Lothian Cup. Both clubs currently sit third in their respective leagues (Linlithgow in Tennents East 1 and Livingston in Tennents East 2) and have been enjoying some good results recently.
The Reds had a strong squad of 22 players, all of whom got game time and the team ran out good winners after surviving an early 20 minute onslaught from the home team shouted on by their usual vociferous support. Sound defence from the visitors repelled the Livingston attacks and gradually the Reds moved up field and began to dominate exchanges. Despite losing prop forward Adam Scott to injury in the first few minutes, ably replaced by the ever reliable Stevie Grant, the visitors opened the scoring when centre Michael Doneghan scored a fine try out wide in the left corner. His trademark quick feet and instant acceleration were outstanding in taking him through the home defence. Jack Frame added the touchline conversion.
With a few minutes, Struan McLean made a neat break including a dummy pass and sent Ally Walker over the line for what looked like a good try but the referee adjudged the final pass to be forward. Further strong carries from both Mochrie brothers (Euan and Fraser), both Walker brothers (Ally and Cammy), Stevie Grant and Ross Plenderleith nearly led to more tries but eventually the pressure told when Doneghan sent Jack Frame through a gap in the defence and he cruised round behind the posts for a try which he also converted to make the half time score 0-14.
Coach Matt Dixon made several changes at half time and also during the second half and all of the replacements made positive contributions to the play of the visitors. The changes in personnel made the game a bit more disjointed but eventually the Reds hit top gear again, led from the front by skipper and man-of-the-match Euan Mochrie. Jack Frame picked up a ball near his own line and evaded several tacklers as he sprinted 60 metres through the heart of the home defence. This was the catalyst for a flurry of Reds tries including a second try for Michael Doneghan after good work by David Goudie and David Martin.
The visitors continued to run strongly at the tiring Livingston defence and Kieran Cochrane and Andrew Archer both made deep inroads into home territory and Ross Tulloch almost completed a fine move but the referee indicated that the ball had not been grounded – a decision hotly disputed by the ‘scorer’!!
However the Reds quickly asserted their superiority and a powerful scrum pushed the home pack back over the try line and the Reds No. 8 Mark Caddle touched down for the try. Kye Lenders also made his debut for the Reds and had a couple of confidence giving runs, nearly scoring in the corner. The final move of the game started in front of the Reds posts and Jamie Finlayson fed the ball to Tulloch who weaved his way up field before the ball passed through a few pairs of hands to reach Euan Mochrie and he morphed into a classy back to take the ball fully 40 metres to score under the posts with Russell Murdoch adding the conversion to make the final score 0-31. Although he was running out of steam as he neared the try line, the sound of his Dad Jim roaring him on gave him that wee bit extra puff to get over the line!
This game provided a much needed warm up for the players facing league opposition next week. There was also the unusual sight of 2 sets of brothers being present in the starting line up as Euan and Fraser Mochrie were joined by Ally and Cammy Walker.
Next week the 1st XV host Broughton in Tennents East 1 and the 2nd XV are at Watsonians in Edinburgh in Tennents Reserve East 2 with both matches kicking off at 2pm.
Jack Frame; Cammy Walker, Michael Doneghan, Ross Tulloch, Ross Plenderleith; David Goudie, Struan McLean; Adam Scott, Stuart Cunningham, Colin Devlin; Fraser Mochrie, Kieran Cochrane; Ally Walker, Euan Mochrie (captain) and Mark Caddle.
Subs – Steven Grant, Calum McKeown, Andrew Archer, David Martin, Russell Murdoch, Jamie Finlayson and Kye Lenders.