REDS BATTLE HARD BUT LOSE OUT TO NORTH BERWICK
North Berwick 12 – 0 Linlithgow
Saturday 10 January 2015
Linlithgow RFC travelled to North Berwick for what the Reds knew would be difficult game against the side one place above them in BT East League One. There was a bitingly cold, strong wind behind Linlithgow as the home side kicked off.
The wind made life difficult for both sides. No one was going to try a kick at goal and the throw-in at line-outs was proving a lottery in the blustery conditions. The home side had more possession in the first quarter of the game of the exchanges but the game was being largely played in the middle of the park. This changed in the 22nd minute when the ball was moved crisply down the blindside where the speedy North Berwick winger rounded the last tackler and raced up to score in the corner. The conversion was missed, to no one’s surprise.
The home side pressed for another score for the next ten minutes and the Reds’ defence had to be good before Ross Plenderleith managed to break out of the 22 and take the play into the home side’s half. The move resulted in a penalty that, on any other day, the Reds would have chosen to kick for goal. Instead they opted for a scrum. There followed the first sustained spell of Reds’ possession and pressure as the game moved towards half-time.
This time it was the North Berwick winger who relieved the pressure on his side with a strong run into Linlithgow’s 22. The defence was holding firm and, in the resulting play, the referee penalised the Reds and then decided to send one of the home side forwards to the sin bin for retaliation. He decided, however, not to reverse the penalty that he had awarded against Linlithgow.
North Berwick took a quick penalty and drove the ball forwards over the Reds try line. The ball squirted out of the mass of bodies to be grounded by Linlithgow. No North Berwick arm was raised to acclaim any try until the referee blew to award one. The kick was so close to the posts that the conversion was possible even in this wind and Linlithgow turned round at the interval 12-0 down.
The Reds knew that they were in for a difficult 40 minutes, trailing by two scores and playing into the wind. It was 15 minutes after the restart before Linlithgow managed to visit North Berwick’s half of the field. North Berwick re-established the pattern and a dangerous-looking attack was held out when Garry Anderson intercepted a pass and carried play up to the half-way line.
Not long afterwards scrum half, Russell Murdoch, who was having a good game, relieved more pressure with a kick upfield. First Chris Archer and then Kenny McKenzie burst through the North Berwick attack to take the Reds forward. Centre, Andrew Wood, had a good run and this sparked off the Reds into a period where they looked as if they might score. However, despite this pressure, North Berwick only had to give one kick to lift the siege, as the wind sent the ball – and the Reds – back into their own half.
For the last five minutes, North Berwick were pressing to score another try but the Reds were just as determined to keep them out. The only clear let-off for Linlithgow came when a pass was dropped with the visitors’ try line at the home side’s mercy. The Reds’ had worked hard, however, and the referee’s whistle ended the game with the final score 12-0 the same as at the interval. Linlithgow came away for the second league game in a row with nothing to show but, unlike the defeat at Berwick in early December, the players could not have put more into this game. They will also be hoping the injuries to Scott Herdman, Logan Black and Kenny McKenzie, all replaced during the match, are less serious than they first looked.
Fraser Rankine; Tyrone Watson, Euan Murray, Andrew Wood and Ross Plenderleith; John Strachan and Russell Murdoch; Calum McKeown, Stuart Cunningham and Scott Herdman; Patrick Bennie and Garry Anderson; Logan Black, Ross Martin and Alistair Wood.
Subs: Kenny McKenzie, Chris Archer, Stuart Young and Chris Ronalson.