Reds Well Beaten but Fight to the End
Murrayfield Wanderers 41 – 5 Linlithgow
Saturday 10 December 2016
Linlithgow RFC travelled to Edinburgh last Saturday to play Murrayfield Wanderers in the shadow of the national stadium. The Reds had managed two narrow victories in recent weeks but they were up against the BT East League One leaders and knew it was going to be a hard game.
After a brief foray into the opposition half, Linlithgow were forced deep into their own half by the pressure from Wanderers. A series of attacks were held out but, when Wanderers moved the ball quickly along the backs from a scrum, the home side right winger dived over for a try in the 7th minute. Two minutes later, the Wanderers centre evaded a tackle on the ten-metre line and ran the ball in all the way for another unconverted try.
The possession was all Murrayfield at this stage and, on the quarter-hour mark, another scrum led to the ball passing along the home back division for a score. This try was converted, Five minutes later, after a succession of forward drives, Wanderers were held up behind the Linlithgow try line. The score was not long delayed, however, and, when the pass went wide to the wing once again, another unconverted score resulted..
The game was twenty minutes old, with the score 22-0. Wanderers had secured the fourth, bonus-point try and were in command. Their support play was excellent and they were executing their moves at speed. The younger, lighter Reds were struggling to win ball, as was seen by the fact that the first time Murrayfield conceded a penalty was in the 25th minute.
In the 34th minute Wanderers were held up again and, from the resulting scrum, the scrum half looped to make the extra man, allowing the Wanderers very useful right winger to secure his hat trick. The kicker now had his range from that side and he added the two points. In the following minute, Wanderers ran in a try from virtually their own half, only this time on the left wing. The kick was missed but the score was a lead of 34-0 for Wanderers and five minutes of the first half remained.
As the game headed to the break, Mark Caddle had a storming run straight up the middle of the park towards the home side line. He was tackled, resulting in a penalty for Linlithgow. For the first time, the Reds were able to pour forward and, contrary to all that had gone on before, they ended the first half pressing on the home side line. The half ended when the ball was passed along the Linlithgow back division and the referee judged that, in trying to tap-pass the ball to Ross Plenderleith, the Linlithgow player had deliberately knocked on. Plenderleith who was touching down had to hand the ball to the Wanderers to kick it out and end the half, with the score still 34-0.
Sean Hagerty came on for Patrick Bennie at half time and the Reds dug deep. The pattern of the play changed and the rate of scoring was halted. Linlithgow made other changes, with Scott Watson and Cammy Walker coming on for Andrew Whitelaw and David Martin. Linlithgow prop, Billy Edment, had to leave the field injured, replaced by Bennie, which meant scrums had to be uncontested. Wanderers were also ringing the changes off the bench.
All of these factors may have disrupted the flow of the game but this should not hide the fact that the Reds were now matching the home side. From a maul on the right wing, Jamie March burst up the right wing. He was outnumbered in defence but the referee pulled him back in any case, having decided that another Linlithgow payer had committed an obstruction. Cammy Walker then chased a good kick and held on to the Wanderers full back while the Reds ran up in support but the home side cleared the danger.
In the 65th minute, Wanderers struck again, scoring another converted try to stretch their lead. Linlithgow were not giving up, however, despite the big gap in scores and, in the 70th minute Stuart Cunningham launched Reds best passage of play. “Chunk” was well tackled but the Reds support carried the ball forward through several pairs of hands, although once again Wanderers managed to clear the danger.
As in the first half, time was running out when the Reds were looking at their best. The Linlithgow youngsters, Mark Caddle and Sean Hagerty, were prominent but, as the game neared the close, it was young prop, Steven Grant, who grabbed the ball and burst forward to take the ball into the home side’s half. He was tackled but Euan Mochrie was on hand to take the ball. Roared on by the Linlithgow coaches, substitutes and small group of supporters, Mochrie raced to the line to score in the corner. Linlithgow’s day was summed up when Jack Frame’s conversion hit the post and the referee blew for time.
Linlithgow were well beaten, as the 41-5 score line shows, but the Reds can take some comfort from the fact that they dug in and competed well in the second half, when they could have given up. A score in last play showed that they had the spirit to play right to the end.
Jack Frame; David Martin, Chris Ronalson, Eric Williams and Ross Plenderleith; Andrew Whitelaw and Jamie March; Steven Grant, Stuart Cunningham and Billy Edment; Mark Caddle and Patrick Bennie, Euan Mochrie, Craig Scott (c) and Cameron Dori-Muir.
Substitutes: Sean Hagerty, Scott Watson and Cameron Walker.
Farewell and Best Wishes to Eric
Eric Williams, who has played centre for the Reds since arriving from Michigan in September, has now returned to the States where he is planning to play for the Chicago Lions. Eric played in his final match for the Reds on Saturday at Murrayfield and has made a valuable contribution to the team over the last three months. We wish Eric all the best for the future. Also a big thanks to Des and Gina for opening their house to Eric and welcoming him like a third son.