Young Reds at Howe (Feb 20)

S1s Alpine Adventure in Cupar!

Report by Gordon Muir

Linlithgow S1s travelled to Cupar on Saturday to take on Howe of Fife on the snowy slopes at Bell Baxter. 21 Young Reds’ players took to the piste on a freezing day and a 6 Nations weekend, which showed great dedication from players and parents alike. 

Linlithgow played the first half up the considerable hill and into teeth of the gale. It was what you might call a lazy wind – it couldn’t be bothered to go round you,  it just went right through you. Receiving kick-off, Linlithgow trudged off up the hill and made good progress through the phases until the slippy ball was spilled and Howe of Fife were off down the slope like the Austrian ski team for the first try of the day. 

Linlithgow S1s have a bit of steel about them, which they showed by strapping on the crampons and steadily working their way back up the Eiger through strong running and fierce support at the breakdown until, after several phases, they emerged at the summit to level the game at 1 try apiece. 

Linlithgow were fighting hard to keep Howe at bay as the home team used the hill to good advantage to keep playing down in the Linlithgow half. Eventually the pressure told, as Howe skated over for a second try late in the half, followed by another on the last play before half time.  

The home team took  shelter in their equipment container at the break as Linlithgow S1s, made of sterner stuff, huddled together on the pitch and strained to hear their coaches’ words over the howling wind. 

Watery sunshine made a brief appearance as the second half got underway. The Young Reds enjoyed the feeble rays of the sun on their backs and, playing down hill at last, were able to apply pressure and quickly went over for a try. They weren’t to have it all their own way, as Howe of Fife moved the ball well for a further try of their own after some uncharacteristically scrappy play from Linlithgow. 

The Young Reds stuck to their task and, as the weather closed in again, lifted their standards and ignored the avalanche warnings to run in two more tries before seeing off a determined finish with great defence to end the game. 

At this point, I’m accustomed to talking about the result and how well Linlithgow had done to win. This week’s game was a bit ambiguous as the Linlithgow coaches and parents thought that Howe had won by an unconverted try; however the Ref had Linlithgow as winners, apparently one of the Howe tries was chalked off. 

In truth, the result is irrelevant: The performance was the same – frustrating at some points, impressive at others – however the referee scored it. And the physical and mental toughness and sheer character showed by both sets of boys to play a great game of rugby in truly appalling conditions was phenomenal irrespective of points. 

Regular readers will know that I like to sum up the Young Reds’ performance with a food-based metaphor and the topography and weather conditions this week have me reaching for Alpine cuisine. In the game vs Howe of Fife, the S1s served up the inevitable cheese fondue washed down with local wine of questionable provenance. It was definitely an experience, parts of it were really enjoyable but by the end you were quite confused,  couldn’t feel your legs and really just wanted to go home. 

Undettered by Saturday’s deep freeze, the S1s once again donned their hastily – laundered rugby strips on Sunday for a day’s bag-packing at Tesco in aid of their upcoming tour. Thanks to their hard work and that of parent organisers, they raised a very creditable 450. Thanks to all those shoppers who paid up protection money at the tills this weekend and also to Club Members who put money in the bucket in the Clubhouse bar.

S2s Display Great Resilience

Report by Mark Osborne

The S2s set off to Fife driving through sleet and winds to get to the game.  Once at Howe the wind was up and it was cold but the rain/sleet/snow had thankfully not arrived yet.  With a big slope and the wind against us in the first half it was going to be a tough start.  Howe scored first, kicking down into our 22 and the putting on the pressure on.  Linlithgow countered back with several pick and goes off the back of rucks to slowly get up the pitch with a very controlled and powerful game plan.  Against a now howling wind and hail stones Linlithgow got the forward try from Fraser they richly deserved.  This was not a half for flowing back play except for the skill full Linlithgow defence as Howe used the wind and slope to kick into our 22 time after time only to be repelled back with great runs from our back line to get back up the pitch.

The second half was night and day as Linlithgow opened up the game with some great passing and very strong running in difficult conditions that led 3 great tries for Jack (2) and another for Fraser.  As the final minutes ticked down Howe got a second try which showed their great resilience in a very competitive game.  A good win and a great performance from the whole Linlithgow squad who are getting fitter and more cohesive every week.  Hoping for some sunshine for our next outing!!