Reds on the Wrong Side of Another Tight Finish
Linlithgow 12 – 19 Dunbar
BT East League 1
Saturday 25 October 2014
It was the turn of Wee Red, Matthew Murray, to lead out Linlithgow RFC First XV at Mains Park when the Reds took on Dunbar in the BT East League One. Dunbar were one place below the hosts in the league and although, even with Dunbar’s game in hand, there was a comfortable points gap between the two clubs, there was no room for complacency. The Linlithgow players know how competitive this division is.
The Reds, playing with a strong wind at their backs, dominated the early stages of the game in both territory and possession, but found it hard to break the visitors’ resolute defence. Ross Martin kicked two penalties but the six-point lead did not reflect the early dominance. Dunbar showed that they had not come just to make up the numbers when, on their first visit to Linlithgow’s 22, they won a penalty which they converted.
On the half hour mark another Ross Martin penalty re-established a six-point lead but, as the game was heading towards half-time, Dunbar silenced the home crowd when their winger broke through two tackles to score a try to score an excellent individual try from half way. The conversion was missed but, soon afterwards, a Dunbar penalty meant, for all their hard work, Linlithgow went into half time 11-9 behind.
The home crowd sensed that this was going to be a tight game and urged the Reds on. They responded with another Ross Martin penalty to regain the lead and continued to have the better of the play. However they missed the opportunity of the game when Linlithgow’s forwards drove the visitors’ back twenty metres. There was an overlap on the right if there had been a quick pass but the ball was lost to good defending.
Again and again, the Reds simply could not break the Dunbar defence and score the try that would give them a cushion. Instead it was the visitors who crashed through to score an unconverted try and take a four point lead.
Dunbar added a penalty which meant that, as the clock ran down, Linlithgow needed to score a converted try to tie the scores. In the last play, a Dunbar penalty fell just short of the posts. The Reds knew this was their last chance and managed to work the ball up field to the edge of Dunbar’s 22. Although Linlithgow have snatched victory in the dying seconds of several games recently, it was not to be on this occasion. The Reds were penalised and worse was to follow when scrum half, Dougie Thomson, was shown a red card for dissent. Dunbar only had to kick the ball into touch to end the game, with the Reds left thinking what might have been, in so many ways.
At least Linlithgow had secured the losing bonus point meaning that the Reds have taken something from every game in the first half of the league campaign. There is now a break in league games before the return fixtures begin. Linlithgow sit in fourth place and the Firsts have a rest from competition next week with the Seconds travelling to play local rivals, Livingston.
Ross Oliver; James Timlin, Mark Green, John Strachan and Euan Murray; Dougie Thomson and Mike Walker; John Pauley, Stuart Cunningham and Chris Archer; Patrick Bennie and David Syme; Billy Edment, Stuart Bell and Ross Martin. Subs: Scott Herdman, Logan Black, Fraser Rankine and Steve Campbell.