Reds Score 3 Cracking Second Half Tries to Claim Big Derby Win
Linlithgow 30 – 27 Livingston
Saturday 8 December 2018
Linlithgow welcomed close neighbours Livingston to Mains Park and with both teams languishing near the foot of the table it was a must-win for both teams. It was a cold miserable day, but a large crowd braved the weather. Linlithgow started the game well, with Jack Frame slotting over 2 penalties, but it was the visitors who scored the first try which was converted. The game was pretty even at this stage, but the Livingston pack had a big weight advantage. It was Livingston who increased their lead with a penalty before Ross Plenderleith scored an opportunistic try, by taking a quick tap 25 metres out and going over in the corner. The Livingston players were not happy, but the Livingston touch judge didn’t raise his flag for touch. The difficult conversion was missed. 11-10 to Linlithgow at the half, but having had the wind advantage was it enough?
Livingston looked slightly the better side at the start of the second half, and the Reds kept them out with some desperate defending but it seemed only a matter of time before the visitors large forwards broke through which they eventually did, and converted. They followed up with another penalty to put them 9 points ahead at 20-11 and Linlithgow had it all to do once again.
The Reds had an early chance to get some points back but declined a penalty in front of the posts, taking the tap instead and then losing possession. Fortunately it didn’t prove costly as Cammy Murrie scored in the corned after good work by Plenderleith who offloaded just in time after a fine break up the left wing. This try was converted by Jack Frame.
Linlithgow had the momentum now and realised that the way to beat the visitors was to shift the ball wide. From one such move starting well inside the Reds’ half, winger Ross Plenderleith cut back inside to commit the defender before offloading to Chunk Cunningham. The hooker, who played centre as a Young Red, then showed his running skills, charging up the touchline and evading defenders before finding Joe McKillion with a beautifully weighted offload. McKillion took the ball at pace rampaging into the visitors 22, handing off would be tacklers. When eventually brought to ground 10 metres short of the Livingston line, the Reds secured quick ruck ball which was moved quickly along the back division to Rab Cairns, who pinned his ears back before diving in at the corner to score the try of the game and give the lead back to the home side. The tricky touchline conversion was missed leaving the Reds a 23-20 lead.
Straight from the kick off, Linlithgow were put under pressure when the kick was knocked on inside the 22. Livingtson piled on the pressure but the home defence held out. Then after a great run by John Chapman he found Rab Cairns in support. Taking a slightly wayward pass behind him while running at full tilt, Cairns carved open the cover defence before diving over for his second try which was converted by Jack Frame. This put the Reds two scores ahead with 8 minutes to play. As the clock ran down, Livingston piled on the pressure. They went through a number of phases, but the defence held out. Finally once a yellow card was shown to captain Euan Mochrie, Livingston’s forwards bundled the ball over the line for a try, but it was the last play of the game. As the Reds’ players celebrated, the conversion went over and the Reds had secured a very close victory.
This was a great comeback by the Reds who showed great spirit and resilience, particularly in the second half. The victory gave them 5 league points and they also retained the West Lothian Trophy, which was presented after the match by Gordon Ford to Reds’ captain Euan Mochrie. This was a match where every Reds’ player made a significant contribution and the coaching team took quite some time and not a little deliberation before selecting Colin Dev Devlin as man-of-the-match.
With the bye week next Saturday, the Reds next league match is not till 12th January when they travel to the Borders to take on Hawick Harlequins.
Rab Cairns; Jack Frame, Chris Ronalson, Mark Green, Ross Plenderleith; John Chapman, Cammy Murrie; Calum McKeown, Stuart Cunningham, Colin Devlin; Finbar Conway, Neil Lockhart; Euan Mochrie (captain), Joe McKillion and Mark Caddle.
Subs: Steven Grant, Kieran Cochrane, Cal Thomson and Ross Tulloch.