Duns played their final away fixture in this season’s East Regional League Division 1 when they travelled to Hawick Linden at the weekend, and in a match played in quite dreadful conditions which could have gone either way until the final whistle eventually lost by 22-16.
Torrential rain began falling late in the morning, and continued unabated until the team coach arrived in Hawick. By that stage the Linden’s Volunteer Park pitch was almost completely awash with water, and there was no way it could stage the fixture. Fortunately, in a place like Hawick there is always an alternative pitch available, and a quick inspection of the three pitches in Wilton Lodge Park saw the match being switched to the opposite bank of the Teviot.
When the game kicked off the surface was already very soft, and as the match wore on the patches of mud gradually grew until by the end it was almost impossible to spot any grass on the surface. To their credit both teams stuck to their task and they tried to play rugby as the conditions worsened.
After 10 minutes of the match Danny Lamb opened the scoring for Duns with a penalty kick. The Linden kicker, after badly missing a couple of early shots at goal, equalised midway through the half and his success ratio was to be 100% thereafter.
Danny Lamb kicked a second penalty, before Linden took the lead with the game’s first try. A kick into the Duns 22 was fielded by Lewis MacAndrew, although his clearance kick failed to find touch. The home side’s left wing scooped up the ball, made a few yards, then exchanged passes with a team-mate who found himself in the clear from 25 metres out and he ran in unopposed in the left corner. An excellent touchline conversion by Ford, followed by a penalty on the stroke of half time, gave Linden the lead at the break.
In the second half, with the pitch condition deteriorating by the minute and the wind picking up all the time, both sides resorted to testing each other with the ‘up and under’ which more often than not proved a very profitable tactic. After a long period of Duns pressure, when the ball was taken through several phases by the pack, Colin Tait eventually powered his way over from 3 metres out, and Danny Lamb’s conversion tied the contest.
Duns then took the lead a couple of minutes later with a third Danny Lamb penalty, taking his points tally for Duns above his father’s.
With the match there for the taking, and with the pack seeming to have gained the upper hand in the muddy conditions, Duns then took their collective foot off the pedal and allowed the Linden back into the game. Over the next 20 minutes or so a string of penalties awarded against the visitors saw them pegged back into their own half, and when given the opportunity the Linden kicker’s aim was sure. He landed three penalties in that period to first tie the match, then take the lead by six points.
Faced with a six point deficit, Duns rallied in the final 5 minutes as they looked for the match-winning score. Agonisingly, they were penalised when a series of forward drives took them to within 5 metres of the try line, and the danger was cleared.
A second successive losing bonus point was scant reward for the shift put in by Duns, but both sides deserve credit for getting on with it in what were horrible conditions.
This week Duns entertain champions Preston Lodge in their final league match of the season - spectators should note that the match kicks off at 3pm.
Duns - Stuart Burns; Lewis MacAndrew, Jamie Semple, Stuart Thomson and Andrew Baxter; Hayden Martin and Danny Lamb; Scott McCraw, Allen Whellan, Stewart Calder, Scott Turnbull, John Walker, Colin Tait, Bert Grigg and Graham Letham. The replacements were Richard Hume, Noel Hooke, David Andrew and Johnnie Thorburn.