ROSS HIGH 12 DUNS 22
Duns, buoyed by their win against local rivals Berwick seven days previously, travelled to bottom side Ross High in the latest round of matches in East League Division 1, and returned with all five points after achieving a hard-fought win in foul conditions.
Duns were dealt a blow early in the match when stand-off Ewan Fleming had to retire with a head knock. To accommodate his departure Dale Robertson took over at 10, scrum-half Stuart Thomson moved into the centre, and Murray Perring came on at 9.
The home side, with their much bulkier pack, held sway at the set-piece in the first half, and within 20 minutes Ross High had opened up a 12-0 lead.
Their first try came from a penalty which was kicked into the corner – a catch and drive at the lineout was rewarded with seven points thanks to their hooker’s touch down and a successful conversion.
Six minutes later Ross High scored again. Lewis Craik tried to field a kick ahead by the home side, rather than allowing it to go out for a throw to Duns. Unfortunately, he knocked it back over his own line, and was forced to concede a scrum when tackled, and from the scrum the forwards powered their way over for try No.2.
Another score by Ross High would have seen Duns in big trouble, but the visitors began to win more possession and territory as they came more into the game. A break up the left wing by Ryan Burns took Duns to within five metres, and when a ruck was set up James Murphy took a popped pass close to the ruck and barrelled his way over for an unconverted score.
Duns were straight back onto the offensive and scored again with 10 minutes of the half remaining.
Once again, good handling took the visitors close to the Ross High line, with the final pass once more going to James Murphy. The big prop dived over for his second try in quick succession, the impact as he landed registering on the Richter scale!
The referee then played nine minutes of injury time at the end of the half, almost exclusively inside the Duns 22, as the visitors put in a defensive shift which may ultimately have been the reason they won the match.
Duns had the advantage of the slope after the interval, although the worsening weather was a real leveller. Long before full-time many of the backs had lost full use of their extremities in the cold and wet, and so there were fumbled passes aplenty.
With 15 minutes of the half gone, Duns had a purple patch which yielded two tries in five minutes, and with it the Dingers’ first try bonus point of the season.
From a break by Mark Alexander, a kick ahead was chased by Tom Swan and although he didn’t win the race to the ball he did force the home full back to gather, slide back over the line, and touch down for a scrum five to Duns. The visitors scored from first phase possession, when a pass from Murray Perring found stand off Dale Robertson arriving at speed and there was no stopping him from close range. He added the extras to his own score.
Straight from the kick-off Duns went over for try number four. A scrum to the visitors on the Ross High 10 metre line was won by Duns, and as the set piece wheeled slightly to the right, taking the Ross High No.8 out of the game, Bert Grigg picked up, dummied his way past the first tackler, and set off on a 40 metre run to the line. He slid the final five metres, bagging his side’s bonus point at the same time.
Ross High sensed that their day was done at this point and they only rarely threatened in the closing minutes of the match as Duns held on for what was ultimately a thoroughly deserved win after going 12 points down so early in the contest.
Linlithgow’s heavy loss at Hawick Harlequins means that Duns climb to sixth in the table from being rock bottom after five matches.
Duns: Craik; Swan, Alexander, Robertson, Ryan Burns; Fleming, Thomson; Murphy, Harkins, Smith, Turnbull, Orr, Whellans (captain), Grigg, Walker. Replacements - Hume, Woodhouse, Perring.