Reds Winning in the Rain
Linlithgow 21 – 0 Dalkeith
Saturday 28 November 2015
Wee Reds mascots, Oscar Davies and Euan Diamond, led Linlithgow RFC First XV on to Mains Park last Saturday where the Reds were facing Dalkeith in a BT East League One Fixture sponsored by Thomas Veitch & Sons and Shepherd Chartered Surveyors. The rain was pouring down and, as the match kicked off, Linlithgow were also playing into the wind.
Dalkeith settled into their stride from the kick off and poured forwards. Linlithgow were playing with their backs against the wall as typified when the visitors pushed the Reds off their own ball at the first scrum. Play continued to be in Linlithgow’s 22 and credit must be given to the Reds defence which time and time again they held the visitors out.
The home defence was tested further when, after a series of tap penalties for Dalkeith on the Reds’ five-metre line, the referee decided that some illegality had taken place and sent Charlie Gillanders to the sin bin. Despite the man advantage Dalkeith still could not make the telling break as the Reds continued to hold out. After twenty-five minutes of constant pressure, Linlithgow began slowly but surely to lift the siege and roll play away from their try line.
Restored to parity of numbers, the Reds broke forward and, at the half hour mark, broke into the visitors’ half in possession for the first time. The ball was kicked ahead, first by Scott Watson and then by Euan Richardson, but the Dalkeith defence managed to scramble it over their own line, conceding a five-metre scrum to Linlithgow. It was Linlithgow’s turn to exert pressure and they forced a series of scrums and penalties on the five metre line.
As the clock was ticking towards half-time, Reds stand-off, Andrew Whitelaw, switched the tactics with a chip into Dalkeith’s right corner. Captain, Chris Bredin, had anticipated the move and dived on the ball to score. Jack Frame lined up the ball from wide out and in truly dreadful conditions slotted the kick home to give the home side a 7-0 half-time lead.
Linlithgow were undoubtedly lifted by this end to the half, having weathered a metaphorical storm in the first twenty or so minutes. The genuine storm lifted as well, as the wind dropped and the heavy rain eased. The Reds were now playing with confidence and they surged forwards straight from the restart.
The cushion of 14 points simply underlined the momentum shift that had taken place in the game and the second half was 20 minutes old before Dalkeith managed to enter the Linlithgow half of the pitch. The growing strength of the home pack was lessened slightly when scrums had to become uncontested with both Dalkeith hookers off the field injured. Nevertheless, Andrew Whitelaw was becoming an influential figure, time and again sending the visitors back to their own try line with well-placed kicks to each corner.
It was no surprise when, after another spell of Linlithgow possession, Stuart Cunningham dived over for another try and no surprise when, once again, from well out wide, Frame added the conversion. The game was now won but the home support were keen to see the Reds secure the fourth try and a bonus point.
They tried their hardest but were denied by stout defence from the visitors. The Reds were held up at one point and, on another, John Pauley was diving over but was accidentally offside when he brushed against Graeme McCallum in front of him. The game ended with a 21-0 victory to Linlithgow.
Both sides should take credit for producing such a good game in atrocious conditions. While they will be frustrated not to secure the additional point, Linlithgow should be well satisfied with a victory that was built on tremendous defence in the first half hour but total domination in the second. That brings the league fixtures to the half-way stage. Linlithgow lie fourth, one point behind Murrayfield Wanderers, but with a game in hand. However the top two clubs, St Boswells and North Berwick, are well ahead of everyone else.
Jack Frame; Scott Watson, Euan Richardson, Mark Green and Chris Bredin; Andrew Whitelaw and Jamie Livingstone; Calum McKeown, Stuart Cunningham and Chris Archer; Charlie Gillanders and Steven Grant; Euan Mochrie, Craig Scott and Ross Martin. Subs: John Pauley, Graeme McCallum, Fraser Rankine and Dougie Thomson.