Duns 58-7 Hawick Harlequins

Jamie Renton on his way to scoring a try for Duns against Hawick Harlequins. Picture by Billy Gillie
Jamie Renton on his way to scoring a try for Duns against Hawick Harlequins. Picture by Billy Gillie

In their last ever match at The Hardens, Duns signed off with an emphatic victory in the final round of RBS Border Regional Shield group games.

The home side went 7-0 down early on, but roared back by scoring nine tries, five of which were converted, and a penalty.

Jamie Renton touches down to score a try for Duns against Hawick Harlequins. Picture by Billy Gillie

Jamie Renton touches down to score a try for Duns against Hawick Harlequins. Picture by Billy Gillie

It was an excellent Duns performance and a fitting way to end nearly 50 years of rugby on the Hardens pitch.

With the main pitch at the club’s new ground at the old Berwickshire High School ready for next season, this was the final match played by the first XV at The Hardens.

A chilly wind blew down the pitch all afternoon, although the ground was in almost perfect condition and it was evident from the first whistle that both sides had decided to play running rugby.

The sun was shining, but the snow-capped Cheviots to the south reminded everyone that winter had not yet released its grip.

Duns played up the slope in the first half, and were behind after only eight minutes.

The ball seemed to shoot straight out of a scrum on half way without being hooked, although the referee waved play on and the Quins scrum half scored an excellent solo try. He made 20 metres, then chipped ahead and a kindly bounce allowed him to gather and score behind the posts. The conversion meant that Duns were 7-0 down.

Almost from the re-start Duns were on level terms. Danny Lamb made a break from the base of a ruck on half way, and had Graham Letham in support. Letham almost made the line himself, but when tackled only five metres short he popped a pass to Hayden Martin, who dotted down to score. Lamb kicked the conversion.

Three minutes later Duns took the lead with a super try by Jamie Semple.

He received the ball on half way and had the strength to hand off his opposite number and sprint clear up the left touchline.

The Quins full-back came across to tackle him, but he stepped inside and crossed for number two of the afternoon. Again Lamb’s kick was good.

A penalty by Lamb midway through the first half was followed almost immediately by try number three. A deft chip by Hayden Martin to the blind side saw Jamie Renton gather the ball on the half-volley, and he beat one defender to dive over for his 74th first XV try.

Just before half time Duns scored their bonus point try. A loose ball was gathered up on the half way line by Martin, and with no-one in the Quins half of the field he set off for the line. The visitors’ winger made a valiant attempt to get across to tackle him, but Martin had the legs – just – to make it to the try line. Hayden’s two tries make him the first XV’s top try-scorer this season, having only returned to the game six months ago.

In the second half, there were only brief periods when the Quins were able to escape from the confines of their own half. Duns seemed to sens a large score was on the cards, and as often happens in these circumstances too many players tried to do too much themselves and a lot of the structure of the match was lost.

Duns also conceded penalty after penalty, which too often deprived them of a try scoring chance.

The first score was brilliant in its simplicity. From a Duns lineout on half way John Walker took great ball off the top and Lamb set his backs away with a long, hard pass. The ball passed through five pairs of hands to Jamie Semple on the left wing, and he had the pace to round his opposite number and score in the corner.

As the half wore on the Quins lost a couple of players to injury, and the scrums became uncontested. Both sides made many handling errors, and so the referee was continually stopping the match for a scrum. There is nothing worse than watching uncontested scrum after uncontested scrum.

The second try of the half came from good work by Lewis Craik. Fresh from leading the Colts to victory in their Border Bowl semi-final the night before, the young flanker stripped the ball from an opponent and Duns ran in an easy score by captain Allen Whellans. Lamb kicked the conversion.

Next to score was Graham Letham, who crossed in the corner after more good work by the forwards had robbed the Quins of the ball. He had a smile as wide as the Mersey tunnel when he got to his feet, probably because it has been more than six years since his last try !

Try number eight came from Craik, and on the stroke of full time Colin Tait crossed for the ninth and final try of the afternoon.

As it was to be the final act of first XV rugby on the Hardens, his team-mates decreed that the captain should take the conversion, and so it was Allen Whellans who calmly slotted the shot at goal from directly in front of the posts and only 10 metres out.

Duns: Stuart Thomson; Lewis MacAndrew, Noel Hooke, Colin Tait, Jamie Semple; Hayden Martin and Danny Lamb; Stewart Calder, Allen Whellans (captain), Richard Hume, Scott Turnbull, John Walker, Robert Grigg, Graham Letham, Jamie Renton. Subs used: Lewis Craik and Steven Crawford.