Reds Scrape Home in 60 point Thriller
Linlithgow Reds 31 – 29 Duns RFC
Saturday 16 November 2019
Report by David Mitchell
Duns provided the opposition in this Tennents East 1 league encounter at Mains Park and both teams served up a very exciting game with the lead changing hands right up until the last minute.
The home side struck first when Jack Frame knocked over a 40 metre penalty kick in the 2nd minute but for much of the first half Duns were the better side. The visitors used their heavy pack of forwards to batter away at the home defence and after a few forward drives, their slick backs moved the ball to the excellent number 12 who jinked over the line without a hand being laid on him. His try was converted to give Duns an early lead (3-7). Frame replied with another penalty after a great chase and tackle by Mark Caddle to close the gap but the visitors continued to dominate the ball and it was no surprise when their back line again created a run in try.
After 25 minutes and with the score at 6-12, the Reds carved out their best move of the first half when Ross Martin powered through a gap and found Stuart Cunningham supporting on his outside. Chunk made ground and showing real awareness of supporting runners, picked out sub Cammy Murrie who took the ball and sprinted 25 metres for a fine try which Frame converted. This gave the home side a barely deserved 13-12 lead but the Duns side again exploited the space out wide on the right and an excellent pass from the number 12 sent the right winger over again untouched by the defence. The try was converted to make the half time score 13-19.
During the first half the Reds had had to replace the injured Colin Devlin and Mark Green with Stevie Grant and Cammy Murrie and during the half time break, Michael Doneghan and Kieran Cochrane were replaced by debutant Jamie Finlayson and Neil Lockhart respectively.
Duns were first out of the blocks and scored a try near the posts after another period of sustained forward pressure and at 13-26 the Reds were under the cosh. However after battling their way up field, the forwards won good lineout ball and manufactured a tremendous rolling maul to cover the last 15 metres to the goal line and Cal Thomson was credited with the try. This score seemed to galvanise the home team and the visitors were now under pressure from the home team scrum.
Jack Frame added another penalty to reduce the gap to 5 points and the home forwards began to secure great ball in the loose with Stevie Grant, Euan Mochrie and man of the match Ross Martin all making great surges into the Duns defence. As the match got closer, the discipline of both teams came under pressure and resulted in 10 minutes on the sidelines for Cal Thomson. The remaining 14 guys took the fight to Duns and following a lineout near to the visitors’ line, Mochrie and Caddle drove forward and the ball was switched to the backs where Ross Plenderleith thundered through the Duns midfield, after good decoy runs had confused their defence, and dived under the posts for a great try which Frame converted to give the home side a 28-26 lead with only 8 minutes to play.
Duns threw everything they had at the Reds defence and were rewarded with a penalty which their number 7 confidently stroked between the posts to regain the lead. However the Reds were not to be denied and following excellent lead up work by the team, the referee awarded a penalty with only 2 minutes to play. Jack Frame’s reliable boot sent the ball between the posts to the delight of the home crowd and the Reds played out the remaining minute comfortably for a very hard fought 31-29 victory.
In the end, both sides felt they could have won the game and neither side would have had a complaint if the outcome had been different. The crowd were treated to a real battle with some excellent skills on show. Not for the first time this season, the Reds have allowed teams to score early and build a lead but they have shown real spirit, togetherness and resilience to fight their way back to winning positions. Ross Martin gave a towering performance leading the pack to ascendency over their opposition and many others gave great support. Struan McLean again performed well at scrum half in his first senior season and it was evident that his confidence is growing with experience as he box kicked well but also made a couple of darting breaks that kept the Duns defence tied in at key moments in the game.
Next week the Reds are at home to Forrester at 2pm and it would great to see the home crowd turn out in big numbers to support their team again. The 2nd team are also at home against Peebles 2s on Lower Mains Park.
Jack Frame; Ross Tulloch, Michael Doneghan, Mark Green, Ross Plenderleith; Aidan Rennison, Stuan McLean; Ally McLean, Stuart Cunningham, Colin Devlin; Kieran Cochrane, Ross Martin; Euan Mochrie (captain), Cal Thomson and Mark Caddle.
Subs: Steven Grant, Cammie Murrie, Neil Lockhart and Jamie Finlayson.