Reds at Murrayfield Wanderers (Apr16)

Much Improved Performance from Reds – Scoreline Flatters Opponents

Murrayfield Wanderers  18 – 6  Linlithgow

Saturday 02 April 2016

The final scoreline flattered the home team, as this was always a close game and it took a last minute try against the run of play to take the home side more than one score ahead.  The Reds coaching team will be much happier with the performance which was a great improvement on the previous week. There were positives for every player in the team.

The Reds had started this BT East 1 league match with a real sense of purpose, putting pressure on the home side straight from the kick-off with phase after phase of sustained pressure for 5 minutes before the Murrayfield stand-off, as he was to do throughout the match, cleared his lines with a long touch finder. There was some lovely interchanges between forwards and backs in that opening period and John Strachan, at stand-off, was settling in well with Andy Whitelaw outside him at ‘second five’ giving him good support.

It wasn’t until the 15th minute that Murrayfield Wanderers had their first foray into the Reds half and they came away with 3 points courtesy of a 40 metre penalty.  Eight minutes later they were back again with another successful penalty from a similar distance.

FR_MWIt was then that the Reds put together an excellent period of attacking play which should have brought at least one try, as on three occasions they roared up the left wing, only to be denied by some desperate last-ditch defending.  The first thrust came from a midfield break by Euan Richardson, as he carved through the home defence making 20 metres before offloading left in a 50 metre move which ended with Fraser Rankine being bundled into touch in the corner.  There then followed a succession of line outs and scrums in the corner from which the Reds eventually blasted over the line. However the referee adjudged the ball held up over the line and no score resulted.

The Reds kept the pressure on and, after strong running from Cunningham and Martin, they threatened on the left wing again, held out once more by stout last-ditch defending.

As the half drew towards a close a clearance kick by Murrayfield was gathered by Reds skipper Chris Bredin who hoisted the ball in the air and gave chase. In seeking to regather the ball he collided with the home team full-back who was in the air. The referee gave a penalty and yellow carded Bredin.  Murrayfield Wanderers then attacked the Reds with renewed determination seeking to exploit the extra man advantage and after pressure on the right in the Reds 22 they swung the ball left and although their player was held up over the line the referee adjudged that he had touched down and so awarded a try.  With the conversion this gave Murrayfield Wanderers a 13-0 half-time lead.

The Reds opened the second half with renewed determination and quite a bit of skill.  Murrayfield were forced into desperate defending and the penalty count began to tell with Andy Whitelaw’s excellent penalty touch finders gaining good ground. From a penalty line-out inside the Murrayfield 22, the Reds set up a rolling maul which the home team were unable to bring down, but not for want of trying.  Driving over the line, the Reds looked to have scored a deserved try, but were called back for “truck and trailer”.  This was probably the key play in the match, as the Reds were beginning to dominate.  The Reds did finally get on the scoreboard a few minutes later from a Jack Frame penalty after a period of further pressure.

RM_run_MWThe Reds then reshuffled their backs with John Strachan, who’d had a good game at 10, being replaced by Bruno Mochrie who slotted in at left wing, with Fraser Rankine going to 12 and Andy Whitelaw to 10.  A superb 40 metre burst by Ross Martin, who left would-be tacklers in his wake, set up a further penalty for the Reds and Jack Frame was successful again with another three-pointer to bring the Reds to within a score at 13-6.

From the ensuing kick-off Euan Mochrie was poleaxed and the Murrayfield player was shown a yellow card. The Reds sensed that they had a real chance to even things up and Stuart Bell burst into life with two trenchant runs, backed up good support play from Mark Caddle (on for Euan Mochrie), Steven Grant and Craig Scott.

With time running out, the Reds were penalised close to halfway and Murrayfield kicked for the corner.  From the ensuing shortened line out, the home team set up a maul and, with some of the Reds’ pack still hanging about in the midfield amongst the backs, made superior numbers count to trundle over the line for a late unconverted try.

The final score of 18-6 flattered the home side, as the Reds probably shaded the territory and possession.  To be fair on Murrayfield Wanderers, their defence was excellent and they took their two chances well, whereas the Reds had about 6 chances and came away empty-handed.

Next week the Reds are away at Hawick Linden for their penultimate BT East 1 league match and they will be looking to build on their greatly improved performance.  Next Sunday, the Wee Reds Micros hold their annual Tournament which is sponsored by CBS Consulting.

Linlithgow

Jack Frame; Chris Bredin (capt), Euan Richardson, Andy Whitelaw, Fraser Rankine; John Strachan (Fraser Mochrie 52 mins), Robbie Thomson; Billy Edment, Stuart Cunningham, Chris Archer; Steven Grant, Stuart Bell; Euan Mochrie (Mark Caddle 68 mins), Craig Scott, Ross Martin.

Not used: John Pauley

Match photos courtesy of Graham Black