Reds Leave it All Too Late at North Berwick
North Berwick 32 – 7 Linlithgow
Saturday 07 November 2015
Last Saturday Linlithgow RFC were at North Berwick where the match kicked off in wind and rain. A couple of late call-offs disrupted the Reds’ line-up, which was already missing several players from the previous week’s team. The Reds were also aware that Recreation Park at North Berwick had never been a ground where they had won points easily.
After a couple of exchanges the visitors had an early opportunity to register the first score but the long-range penalty drifted wide. The conditions were making handling difficult for both sides but the home side gradually began to exert territorial pressure. North Berwick broke their duck after quarter of an hour’s play when they scored a penalty.
Five minutes later the North Berwick forwards drove a line out over the ball but the Reds defence managed to hold the ball up. The home side were not to be denied, however. From the resulting scrum, they moved the ball wide and dived over for a try close to the posts that was converted.
The balance of play remained in Linlithgow’s half but their defence was holding out. On the half hour mark, the North Berwick forwards were once again driving towards Linlithgow’s line. The maul went down and the referee judged this to be foul play preventing a certain score and awarded a penalty try. To make matters worse for Linlithgow, hooker, Stuart Cunningham, was sent to the sin-bin. The conversion in front of the posts was easily kicked.
Minutes later the home side centre broke up the middle of the field His pass to the winger in the clear was knocked on but the North Berwick won the resulting scrum and this time the home side made no mistake, scoring in the corner. The conversion from out wide was missed but this brought the half time score to 22-0 for North Berwick
After the restart when Linlithgow were restored to fifteen men, it was the home side’s turn to go a man down and, this time, Stuart Cunningham was the victim as he was tackled illegally. Nevertheless, although the Reds went on the attack, North Berwick ran the ball from their own 22. The visitors’ defence managed to kick the ball into touch. From the line-out, North Berwick drove the ball over the line for their fourth, bonus-point try. Minutes later, the home side were on the attack once more and found themselves with an overlap for another try.
With Linlithgow 32 points down and North Berwick looking dangerous every time they forayed upfield, it was looking ominous. The only comfort for the small band of travelling supporters was that the rain had eased. It was at this stage, as the game moved into the last quarter, that Linlithgow dug deep. For the first time in the match they had some sustained possession in the North Berwick half.
Garry Anderson broke forward supported by Ross Martin and Euan Mochrie but the attack was held out. Scrum half, Mikey Walker, burst up the wing but was tackled into touch almost over the try line. The Reds forwards who had been under the cosh began to exert some pressure and drove forward on several occasions.
Linlithgow’s efforts at this stage in the game were rewarded when Stuart Cunningham, who was having an eventful game, burst through the middle and touched down. Jack Frame converted the score. The Reds continued to press and the home side were using all their experience to foil the Reds attacks. North Berwick were reduced to fourteen men for the second time in the game, as the referee spotted some foul play in their defence. The game did not have long to go, however, and it finished with a clear 32-7 win to North Berwick.
Linlithgow will probably want to draw a veil over the first hour of this game when they made too many errors but they can take some heart from the manner in which they finished the game. The players will want to bring that endeavour into play earlier.
Linlithgow RFC: Fraser Rankine; Russell Murdoch, Chris Bredin, Mark Green and Jack Frame; Jamie Livingstone and Mikey Walker; Calum McKeown, Stuart Cunningham and Chris Archer; Garry Anderson and Pat Bennie; Euan Mochrie, Craig Scott and Ross Martin. Subs: John Pauley, Neil Lockhart and Dougie Thomson.