Happy New Year for Reds as they Defeat Local Rivals in New Year Derby
– West Lothian Cup Retained
Linlithgow 23 – 15 Livingston
Saturday 03 January 2015
Last Saturday, the weather was fine and the pitch at Mains Park was in excellent condition when Linlithgow RFC welcomed Livingston for the traditional New Year’s derby encounter between the two rivals. Both teams were short of a few first team regulars, but the Reds were able to welcome back captain Stuart Cunningham, returning after two months out, and scrum half Russell Murdoch playing his first match of the season.
The visitors hit their stride first and mounted all the early pressure. They missed a penalty in front of the posts in the sixth minute but their score was not long delayed. After ten minutes, Livingston charged down a kick and pounced on the ball to score a try that was converted.
This spurred Linlithgow into action and they drove forward. Their forwards were causing Livingston problems in the scrum. The Reds twice pushed their counterparts back towards their line and on the second occasion the ball came out at such speed that the attacking opportunity was lost. Scrum half, Russell Murdoch, then made a super break forward but his offload could not be gathered.
It was nearly half an hour before the Reds’ pressure resulted in a penalty, which stand-off, John Stachan, converted. When the visitors next attacked, full back, Ross Oliver, cleared the danger with a mazy run from defence that took his side back up field. Seconds before the interval Strachan converted another penalty to take the half-time score 7-6 for the visitors.
The home side began the second half as they had finished the first and another good run by Ross Oliver took the Reds close to the Livingston line. The backs opted for a cross-kick to the wing and the attack came to nothing. Ten minutes after the restart a surging run by Ross Plenderleith almost enabled him to score but he was tackled close to the line. Plenderleith managed to release the ball and Euan Murray picked up the low pass to dive over the line. John Strachan added the conversion to give the Reds the lead.
The Reds pack continued to dominate the set-piece and two scrums in a row led to penalties. From the second of these the ball was being moved swiftly along Linlithgow’s back division with a Linlithgow score looking inevitable when a loose pass was thrown. The visitors hacked the ball up field and, with the Reds’ defence unable to cope with the ball on the ground, won the race to score in the corner. The conversion was missed but the visitors were now within one point of the Mains Park side.
In the 63rd minute, Livingston scored a penalty to take a narrow lead and two minutes later they missed another. The game was now a ding-dong battle, as both sides wanted to strike the telling blow. Euan Richardson was then obstructed as he burst forward pursuing his own kick. With five minutes to go, John Strachan calmly converted the resulting penalty to put the Reds back in front 16-15.
Linlithgow’s tails were up now and they looked sure to score when they worked a three-man overlap. Once again, the backs opted for a cross-kick and only a last ditch tackle by the visitors prevented the Reds from going over in the corner. At the resulting line-out, on the Livingston five-metre line, the Reds won the ball and Kenny McKenzie crashed over the line for a fine try. John Strachan completed a perfect day with the boot by adding the conversion to give Linlithgow a 23-15 victory and a successful defence of the West Lothian Cup.
Ross Oliver; Tyrone Watson, Euan Murray, Ben Milne and Ross Plenderleith; John Strachan and Russell Murdoch; Calum McKeown, Stuart Cunnningham and Scott Herdman; Patrick Bennie and Garry Anderson; Lewis Herdman, Euan Richardson and Cameron Dori-Muir.
Subs: John Pauley, Kenny Mckenzie, Robbie Thomson and Kieron Faulds.