Poor Defence Costs Reds
Royal High 41 – 12 Linlithgow
Saturday 26 October 2019
Match report by David Mitchell
The Reds made the trip to Barnton with a squad depleted by injuries and other unavailability to face Royal High for the 2nd time in 3 weeks. However the drawn match at Mains Park seemed a distant memory as the home side progressed comfortably into the semi final stage of the Edinburgh Shield.
The visitors had the benefit of a strong cool breeze at their backs but were unable to make early inroads into the home defence and in their first incursion into the Reds half, Royal High scored 3 points from a penalty awarded for a high tackle by a Reds defender. In the next action, Kieran Cochrane fielded a drop out kick and drove into the home 22 and managed a fine offload to Russell Murdoch who burst through the defence and ran the final 20 metres to score the try. This gave the Reds a narrow 2 point lead but over the next 10 minutes, Royal High scored 2 converted tries following some woeful tackling efforts that allowed the same player to go over the line virtually untouched.
The Reds then spent the next 15 minutes camped in the Royal High half of the field but the attacks failed to find a cutting edge with too many lateral moves and very limited ‘go forward’. To compound the problem, Royal High managed to score a late try which game them a 22-5 half time lead which although deserved was largely contributed to by the visitors poor defence.
The 2nd half started disastrously for the Reds when Rennison’s attempted clearance kick was charged down by the Royal High flanker who scored under the posts. At 29-7 down and against the stiff breeze, the visiting supporters feared a heavy defeat but the team responded well by dominating territory for much of the 2nd half but some wild and inaccurate passing led to quite a few opportunities being squandered. In particular Russell Murdoch and David Goudie were running some very good lines but too often the support could not convert their good work into tries. Captain Euan Mochrie led well by example and bounced off several tacklers during a number a strong drives into the heart of the opposition defence.
Euan Gunn and Andrew Archer replaced Colin Devlin and Kieran Cochrane respectively as the Reds freshened up the team but despite a lot of pressure for the Reds, it was the home side that scored next with a try wide out on the left wing. Eventually the scrum pressure being exerted by the Reds pack was rewarded with a penalty being awarded near the posts and following a quick tap, Cal Thomson dived over for a try that was converted by Aidan Rennison. Coach Dougie Thomson had at this point made a cameo appearance replacing Russell Murdoch but was injured and replaced by Cochrane. With the score at 34-12 for the home team, it was no surprise that the game petered out in the last few minutes but they did complete the scoring with a converted try to make the final score 41-12.
The home side deserved the win but they were gifted 21 points as a direct result of Linlithgow mistakes and it was always going to be tough to respond thereafter with a winning performance. Overall the Reds had a lot of possession and territory but were a blunt instrument in attack with the usual problem of a lack of clinical finishing in the opposition’s 22. The surprise was the poor tackling display which has not been a feature of the games so far this season. With no fixtures scheduled for next week, the coaches and players need to make good use of the next 2 weeks of training sessions to fix the defensive problem, work on developing a more cutting edge in attack and most importantly respond mentally to this setback by getting the attitude correct for the next game and beyond. The boys need to challenge themselves and their teammates in terms of making themselves available more often for games so that we can field our strongest team every week.
The next 5 league games are all very winnable starting with a trip to Hawick Linden on the 9th of November but we need the players to be available, take the right attitude into the games and deliver the performances of which they are most certainly capable.