Reds Edged Out in Close Match at Mains Park
Linlithgow 15 – 17 Forrester
Saturday 29th October 2016
A perfect day for rugby, warm for the time of year and a light breeze watched on by 85 ex players, the stage was set for a game both teams needed to win. With both Captain Chris Bredin and Vice Captain Stuart Bell missing through injury, the Reds were not anywhere near full strength.
Most of the early play was inside the Linlithgow half of the field, with the home side unable to clear their lines and the visitors unable to capitalise on a lot of possession. Linlithgow got the first chance with a long-range penalty which dropped just short. Half way through the half it was Linlithgow who scored first, a great flowing move from Chris Ronalson and Andy Whitelaw setting it up for Euan Murray to go over on the corner. The touchline conversion went wide.
Forrester fought back, scoring a try in the corner followed by a superb conversion from the touchline. Forrester almost scored minutes later but for a try saving tackle from Josh Hares.
The Reds then scored another great try in the corner, Eric Williams cutting through at pace after good build up work by Ross Martin. Jack Frame’s touchline conversion then hit the post and rebounded back out. The Reds looked certain to add to their lead exploiting their pace out wide through Jack Frame, but the Forrester full-back, faced with a two-on-one, kept his head only committing to the tackle once the pass had been made. Jack Frame took a knock in the move, so when the Reds were awarded a penalty near the touchline, it was Andrew Whitelaw who stepped up to take it, his attempt going just wide.
Forrester were soon back on the attack and only a great defensive tackle by Ross Plenderleith stopped a certain try.
Half time 10-7 to Linlithgow
Forrester levelled the scores with a penalty early in the second half, after a period of pressure. Linlithgow then had the chance to go ahead again but the long-range penalty, taken by No 8 Ross Martin dropped just short.
As the game progressed, Forrester looked more likely to score and they did with a lovely try, while the Linlithgow defence was all at sea. The Reds had tried to clear their lines after a period of Forrester pressure, but the kick was fielded in open play on the 10m line. Great support running at pace, resulted in the try in the corner, despite a couple of heroic tackles. Once again the Forrester stand-off struck a lovely conversion through the posts from the right-side touchline.
The Reds were now 17-10 down and very much up against it, with Forrester resurgent and full of confidence. However the home team were not for giving up and, playing their best spell of rugby in the match started to turn the pressure on the visiting team. Substitute Billy Edment had a couple of powerful runs, in one case turning cover defence into full-on attack as he used a combination of guile, pace and power to make inroads into the visitors defence. Ross Martin and Eric Williams both had strong drives as the Reds moved ever closer to the Forrester line.
A direct run from Cameron Dori-Muir was stopped just a metre short of the line under the shadow of the posts and from the resultant ruck the Reds spun the ball left to put Ross Plenderleith over for a try in the corner, bringing the score to 15-17, with the conversion to come. Once again it was Ross Martin (Jack Frame by now having left the field with a dead leg) who stepped up and his well-struck kick from the touchline went agonisingly just past the far upright.
There was still time in the game, but Forrester’s defence held on for the win. Having scored three tries to two, the Reds were disappointed to finish on the losing side, but it was three superb kicks from the Forrester stand-off, two conversions from right on the touchline and a penalty from near halfway, that proved the difference between the sides.
Jack Frame; Euan Murray, Eric Williams, Chris Ronalson, Ross Plenderleith; Andrew Whitelaw, Cammy Murrie; Steven Grant, Stuart Cunningham, Michael Robertson; Sean Hagerty, Craig Scott (capt); Cameron Dori-Muir, Josh Hares, Ross Martin.
Subs (all used) : Mark Caddle, Euan Mochrie, Billy Edment, Russell Murdoch.