Reds Struggle but Hang on to a Point
Linlithgow 6 – 13 North Berwick
Saturday 20 September 2014
North Berwick were the visitors last Saturday, as three Wee Reds mascots, Ruan and Cailean Vorster and Fraser Miller, led Linlithgow First XV out at a sunny Mains Park.
The reception that North Berwick served up was as hot as the weather. Linlithgow lost their first scrum against the head and North Berwick went on the attack. The visiting side were held up behind the line but the play resulted in a penalty to Linlithgow. This provided no relief as Linlithgow lost their own line-out and North Berwick attacked again.
Linlithgow were penalised but North Berwick opted for a line-out rather than a shot at goal. This proved the correct decision, as their forwards won the ball and drove over the line for a try. The conversion was missed. It had been a torrid first ten minutes for the home side but, from the restart, the Reds visited the North Berwick “22” for the first time. The ball was passed along the Linlithgow back division and North Berwick transgressed. Ross Martin scored the penalty to keep the Reds in touch.
For the remainder of the first half, the home side struggled to stay in the game but, to their credit, they managed to do so. The Reds’ scrum was creaking and the visitors had the bulk of possession and territory but Linlithgow always managed to make the important tackle or the visitors made the wrong decision. As the seconds ticked down to half time, the visiting forwards were once again driving towards the home try line when they knocked on. The Reds’ forwards won the scrum and the ball was kicked into touch to end the half with the home side down by only 3-5.
Six minutes into the second half, the North Berwick forwards again drove their counterparts back a long way before they moved the ball wide. This allowed their backs to score a second try close to the posts but the conversion hit the post. Soon after, in the best play of the game so far, North Berwick raced forward in attack but ignored a three-man overlap, allowing Linlithgow again to clear a dangerous positon.
North Berwick notched up another penalty to stretch their lead to 13-3 but the home side were now gaining a bit more possession and fluency, with the scrum especially bolstered by the arrival of John Pauley. Halfway through the half, Ross Martin’s penalty hit the post and Chris Bredin, running on to the rebound, almost made something of it. Five minutes later North Berwick missed a penalty.
There followed a fracas during a Reds attack, after which the referee sent a player from each side to the sin bin. The Reds’ Number 8, Alistair Wood, was particularly unfortunate, as his only offence was to receive a punch that the referee missed.
This was now proving the best spell of the game for the home side and when North Berwick strayed offside during an attack, Ross Martin slotted his second penalty of the day. Linlithgow were now straining to take more out of the game and a superb run by Andrew Wood saw him race through the visitors’ midfield but unfortunately support was late in arriving. Almost straight afterwards, it was the Reds who missed an overlap that could have led to a score in the corner.
The referee then brought proceedings to a halt. North Berwick were the deserved winners by 13-6 but Linlithgow had worked very hard to secure a losing bonus point from this encounter and deserve some credit for that.
Fraser Rankine; Ross Oliver, Euan Richardson, Andrew Wood and Euan Murray; Dougie Thomson and David Martin; Calum McKeown, Stuart Cunningham and Scott Herdman; Stuart Jamieson and Keir Waddell; Stuart Bell, Ross Martin and Alistair Wood. Subs: John Pauley, Patrick Bennie and Chris Bredin