Reds Win A Cliffhanger as Last Minute Converted Try Defeats League Leaders
Linlithgow 25 – 23 Dalkeith
Saturday 11 October 2014
Three Wee Reds mascots, Ethan Sargent, Ewan Melia and Matthew Fulton, led Linlithgow RFC’s First XV out on to the pitch at Upper Mains Park. The home side knew that they were going to have to play well as their visitors were Dalkeith, sitting unbeaten at the top of BT East League One.
The Reds had the better of the early exchanges, pinning Dalkeith in their own half. Despite this, it was the league leaders who notched the first score from a penalty. The Reds resumed their pressure, however, and their forwards were proving more than a handful for Dalkeith. After several drives, it was Ross Martin who broke through several tackles to ground the ball for a try. The conversion was missed.
Dalkeith hit back and a superb exchange of passes left their centre storming through the home side defence to score a try under the posts, leaving an easy conversion that was successfully kicked. David Syme had to leave the field for treatment after a knock to his head and it was his replacement, John Pauley, who, on the half hour, was at the heart of another forwards drive to score Linlithgow’s second try. Ross Martin stepped up to kick the conversion to give the Reds a 12-10 lead.
They looked as if they would take this into the interval but they suffered a double blow. As half time approached, home captain, Stuart Cunningham was sent to the sin bin and then a penalty in the last minute of the first half meant that the Reds turned round 12-13 down. This was disappointing given the balance of play in the first half.
The Reds were still a man down as the second half began although David Syme was able to return to the fray. In the first ten minutes, however, Dalkeith showed the kind of play that had taken them to the top of the league. Their pressure resulted in a penalty that was successfully kicked. Minutes later, they stretched their lead when the Reds’ defence ran out of players, leaving the visitors’ winger time to take the ball round to the posts to touch the ball down for a kick that went in off the post to put Linlithgow 11 points adrift at 12-23.
Linlithgow rallied, however, and, restored to full strength, they pressed forward into the visitors’ half. Although they had to be careful because Dalkeith backs looked dangerous whenever they broke out, the Reds’ defence remained on the alert. Meanwhile, the Reds pressure was paying dividends. Ross Martin pegged the visitors back with two penalties that took the score to 18-23.
Time was running out with the visitors pinned on their own try line. Time and again the Reds forwards drove towards the line but were held back by strong Dalkeith defence. This defence began to crack, as the referee lost patience with repeated infringements by the visitors. In quick succession he sent two Dalkeith payers to the sin bin.
Penalties were no good to Linlithgow if they wanted to take more than a losing bonus point from the game and they continued to press for the try their efforts deserved. The forwards mounted a strong drive to the corner and David Syme wormed his way through to score a try that tied the match score.
The previous week there had been a minute left when Ross Martin stepped up to score the penalty that won the game at Langholm. Last Saturday, as he stood on the touch line at Mains Park, he knew that his was the last kick of the game. The home supporters held their breath as the ball flew towards the posts only to let out tremendous roar as it sailed between them.
Linlithgow had edged out the league leaders 25-23 in one of the most exciting games at Mains Park for ages and, on the Reds’ showing last Saturday, few would have grudged them that win.
Fraser Rankine; Ross Oliver, Mark Green, Andrew Wood and Chris Bredin; John Strachan and Dougie Thomson; Calum McKeown, Stuart Cunningham and Chris Archer; Patrick Bennie and David Syme; Billy Edment, Stuart Bell and Ross Martin. Subs: John Pauley, Tom Townend, Aaron Flucker and Ben Milne.