Duns entertained Earlston at the Hardens on Saturday in the latest round of matches in East League Division 1, and emerged comfortable winners.
The five points gained for the win, coupled with Portobello’s defeat of Lismore, extends the Duns advantage at the top of the table to 13 points with only four matches remaining.
Duns kicked off down the Hardens slope and were ahead after only six minutes. At a home scrum five metres from the Earlston line, No 8 Richard Burns picked up and popped a pass to Danny Lamb on the blind side. The Duns scrum half sprinted powerfully into the gap between the defending centre and winger and crossed for the opening score.
Ten minutes later Kevin Aitchison added his first try of the afternoon. This time Dale Robertson’s conversion attempt was successful, and Duns lead by 12-0 with barely a quarter of the match gone.
Earlston then raised their game and came much more into the match. Their pack, bigger than the Duns eight, used its size to good effect to rumble and maul their way upfield, but resolute defence kept the home line intact.
Having repelled all that Earlston could offer, Duns scored three quickfire tries in a five minute spell before half time to effectively kill the match as a contest.
Kevin Aitchison crossed for his second of the day followed by a brace by Dale Robertson, who converted his first, and Duns had all of a sudden raced to a 29-0 advantage at the interval, with the bonus point already in the bag.
Playing uphill in the second half, Duns wasted no time in adding to their try tally. A fine passage of play, with great handling between forwards and backs, saw Earlston run out of defenders and Kevin Aitchison had a clear run to the line.
Rather than score what would have been his hat-trick try, he unselfishly gave a scoring pass to the supporting Chris Blaikie, giving the hard-working flanker his first of the season. Dale Robertson’s conversion took his personal tally for the season over 250 points.
The match now well and truly won, Duns made sure that all of their replacements were given some game time, but the match lost a lot of shape and direction as a result. Earlston once again enjoyed a prolonged period of pressure, during which Duns were penalised again and again, but despite spurning many kickable shots at goal in favour of going for a try Earlston could not cross the Duns line.
Towards the end Duns scored try number seven. Marco Crolla was given an opportunity to sprint for the line, but he was overhauled by the cover defence. As he fell in the tackle, he popped a pass to the supporting Kevin Aitchison who crossed for his third try of the afternoon.
This was another fine performance by Duns, and their third victory over local rivals Earlston this season.
Nearest challengers in the league Portobello can now reach only 70 points, so Duns need to score 71 to guarantee the Championship this season. That means scoring eight points from their remaining four fixtures.
The first of these is at bottom side Penicuik this Saturday - kick off at Penicuik Public Park is at 3pm.
The Duns team was: David Hutchison; Kevin Aitchison, Dale Robertson (captain), Scott Lindsay and Ben Black; Ged Lamb and Danny Lamb; Chris Archer, Cammy Hill, Barry Hamilton, James Thorburn, Stuart Blyth, Chris Blaikie, Richard Burns and Jamie Renton. The replacements were Dane Ivison, Scott McCraw, Marco Crolla, Stuart Davies and Scott Turnbull.