Reds Kick Off New Year with Cracking 8 Try Win Against National League Opposition
Linlithgow 52 – 24 Haddington
Saturday 5th January 2019
Haddington were the Reds’ first foots on Saturday at Mains Park in a friendly arranged as neither side had a league fixture scheduled. Haddington, who play in National League 3 – the league above Linlithgow – were hoping to get their season on track after a disappointing first half to the season, whilst the Reds were looking to build on their last performance which had resulted in a fine league win against local rivals Livingston. The visitors took the field in their normal red strips, which meant that Linlithgow turned out in their blue change strips for this match.
Before kick off there was a minute’s silence to mark the passing of Bob Green. Bob was a loyal supporter of the club having coached at junior level and was a regular supporter at Linlithgow matches across the country.
Conditions were good for running rugby – dry and little wind – and certainly both sides were up for moving the ball at nearly every opportunity. The first half had barely started when Jack Frame, back at full-back in a reshuffled back division, made a fine outside break from just inside his own half finding winger Lewis Mayo Herdman with a slick inside pass as he cut inside the cover defence. Cammie Murrie was up in support to continue the move with the ball then going to flanker Cal Thomson who blasted through the remaining cover defence to run in from 30 metres out. A cracking try which was converted by Jack Frame to give the Reds an early 7-0 lead.
The Reds continued to press after the restart and winger Mayo Herdman, who had a cracking game, popped up in midfield to carve open the visitors’ defence before offloading to Club captain Euan Ralph Mochrie who ripped through to run under the posts for another fine try, which was again converted by Jack Frame, giving the Reds a 14-0 lead with less than 10 minutes played.
Although rocked by these early scores, Haddington began to play their way back into the game, prompted by both their fine young stand-off and their more experienced all-action hooker. In addition, their overall tackling improved and, although the Reds continued to play adventurous rugby, the Haddington defence stood firm, turning the ball over on a number of occasions. From one such turnover, inside the Reds’ half, Haddington rumbled up the park to crash over for a converted try. A few minutes later the visitors seized on another unforced Reds’ error, claiming the loose ball near halfway and running in a second try in the corner to pull the score back to 14-12 with 25 minutes played.
This seemed to jolt the Reds into raising their game and they became more competitive at the breakdown, with centre Rab Cairns prominent in a number of turnovers. Jack Frame once more made a cracking break up the right, beating three defenders before attempting to take on the final defender with three Reds’ players in support, any of whom would have scored had Frame chosen to pass. However, not all was lost as the Reds won quick ball from the ensuing breakdown, moving it across the full width of the field in stages from right to left, before scrum half Cammie Murrie put in winger Ross Plenderleith for a try in the corner to extend the Reds’ lead to 19-12.
The Reds were soon back on the attack, but valiant defence from the visitors looked as though it was going to keep them at bay until the break. However, on the stroke of half-time Chris Ronnie Ronalson, playing at stand-off spotted a gap in the cover defence and his clever chip kick found space bouncing just under the visitors’ posts and standing up nicely (he insisted that he kicked it to do exactly that) for him to reclaim and dive over for a lovely try, which Jack Frame converted to leave the half-time score at 26-12 for the Reds.
The second half got underway with the home crowd looking for the Reds to kick on in the manner they closed out the first half, however the Reds’ players had not read the script and conceded a try straight from the restart having lost the ball in midfield, with Haddington taking it up the field in a series of drives before crashing over in the corner for a fine try which was beautifully converted to peg the Reds’ lead back to 26-19.
With Andrew Archer now on the field and Rab Cairns once more to the fore defensively, the Reds began to win the turnover battle and consequently they took control of the game, pinning the visitors back with some fine aggressive running. It was from another such period of play that the Reds scored their fifth try with a superb, “never say die” run from prop Adam Scott. Scott took the ball 30 metres out surrounded by defenders. Brushing off the first two tackles he rumbled into the Haddington 22 carrying a couple of defenders, before shaking them off, bouncing the last line of defence and then accelerating to crash over the line for a score which brought the biggest cheer of the afternoon.
A few minutes later, centre Rab Cairns was up in support of a break to take the scoring pass and run in from 30 metres out for a try which Jack Frame converted to give the Reds a 38-19 lead. With the Reds threatening to run away with the match, Haddington dug in and went back to their power game, their big forward crashing over from one metre out after many phases of play close to the Reds’ line.
This proved to be their swansong as the Reds retightened their grip on the match, bringing on all their subs and it was one of them, Stu Young, who claimed the Reds’ 7th try after a 5 metre lineout drive by the pack. Jack Frame slotted the conversion and then with the last play of the game, he claimed a deserved try for himself which he also converted to bring his personal tally up to 17 points and the final match score to 52-24 for the Reds.
This was probably the Reds best performance of the season, with every player making a contribution to the win, which featured 8 different try scorers. On Saturday, the Reds resume their league campaign with a trip to Hawick Harlequins, while the 2s also travel to the Borders, to take on Gala ‘A’ in a reserve league match.
Jack Frame; Lewis Herdman, Rab Cairns, Aidan Rennison, Ross Plenderleith; Chris Ronalson, Cammie Murrie; Adam Scott, Stuart Cunningham, Ally McLean; Neil Lockhart, Kieran Cochrane; Euan Mochrie (captain), Cal Thomson and Mark Caddle.
Subs: Stu Young, Peter Millar, Andrew Archer, Ross Tulloch, Euan Murray.