DUNS 25 DUNBAR 18
Duns welcomed Dunbar to Castle Park last saturday for the first of three successive home matches in East 1 – and they continued their recent run of good form with a third win on the bounce which takes them up to seventh place in the table.
The pitch was heavy in places after overnight rain and the players had to cope with a slippery ball, which both sides took some time to come to terms with, so that in the opening quarter of the match there were knock-ons and dropped passes a-plenty.
However, both teams showed a refreshing willingness to run the ball whenever possible, with the visitors in particular happy to play a handling game even when inside their own 22.
Duns started with the same pack of forwards which began the win at Forrester seven days previously, and the two changes in personnel behind the scrum were due to unavailablity rather than injury, with Mark Alexander and Stuart Thompson coming in for Ewan Fleming and Ryan Burns.
Duns enjoyed all of the early pressure in the match, but it took them 12 minutes to open their account. After the ball had been taken to within seven metres of the Dunbar line by the forwards, a ruck was set up and the ball went through several pairs of hands along the threequarter line to Ross Turner.
The Duns left wing had looped around the entire back line to pop up outside Tom Swan on the right wing, and this created the overlap for him to cross unopposed in the corner. Lewis Craik kicked the conversion from wide out.
Dunbar then enjoyed a purple patch which saw them score 15 unanswered points. Their first try was simple, but effective, when their big centre picked up the ball from a loose Duns pass in midfield. His fellow centre ran a good support line, and he took a pass on the 22 and returned the favour with a pass back inside when his progress was halted, and Dunbar scored between the posts. The simple conversion levelled the scores.
Barely three minutes later Dunbar scored again. A missed tackle in the centre allowed the visitors to make good ground into the Duns 22, and with the cover defence having been pulled in there was a huge gap on the right wing. The quick-thinking Dunbar stand off put in a delicate chip to the corner, and the visitors’ right wing had the easy task of running onto the loose ball for his side’s second try of the afternoon.
The conversion was missed, but Dunbar kicked a penalty after 27 minutes to stretch their lead to 15 - 7.
Duns slowly regained their composure after this Dunbar broadside, and came more into the match. With half-time beckoning they scored try No.2 after the Dunbar defence had been pulled first one way and then the other. This created an overlap on the right, and Bert Grigg drew the last man before giving a well-weighted pass to Tom Swan on his outside. This time Craik’s conversion drifted wide.
Duns kicked off in the second half, and Dunbar immediately conceded a penalty which Craik duly slotted to draw the scores level.
Dunbar kicked their second penalty after 10 minutes of the half, and when Craik replied five minutes later the scores were tied for the third time in the contest at 18-18.
With both defences being on top – particularly the Duns defence, which in the second half put in yet another superb performance – it was going to take something special to break the deadlock.
This was provided by Stuart Thompson, who took a pass on the halfway line.
He rounded his opposite number on the outside and made it as far as the visitors’ 22 before being challenged by the Dunbar full-back.
However he wrong-footed the would-be tackler and was able to make it to the line as the cover defence descended on him for an excellent individual score. Craik obliged with the conversion, and Duns had a seven point lead.
Dunbar threw the kitchen sink at Duns in the closing minutes looking for the try which would tie the match for the fourth time, but the home team stood firm.
The final whistle gave Duns, for whom Gordon Harkins was man of the match, a deserved win – their third on the trot – which will do wonders for team morale as they head into home fixtures over the next two weekends.
Penicuik visit Castle Park next, in the final fixture in the first round of league matches, before unbeaten Murrayfield Wanderers arrive in two weeks’ time in the first of the reverse matches.
Duns: Robertson; Swan, Thompson, Alexander, Turner; Craik, Martin; Turnbull, Chisholm, Smith, Turnbull, Herbert, Harkins, Grigg (captain), Walker. Replacements: Murphy, Cacciamani, Outhwaite, Tullie.