ROSS HIGH 7 DUNS 45: Duns travelled to Tranent on Saturday to play Ross High in their final warm-up match before the commencement of the new league season and came away with a morale-boosting, seven-try win which sets them up nicely for the trip to Linlithgow for the opening league fixture this weekend.
Duns were without a host of last season’s regulars for a variety of reasons, but still proved too strong for their hosts. Ross High had given Duns two very close matches last season (a 20-15 win at Tranent and a 14-6 win at the Hardens on the final day of the season) but after 20 minutes the visitors were three tries to the good.
The opening score came on 12 minutes when Andrew Baxter crossed in the left corner, and an excellent conversion by Keiran Wilkinson - a summer recruit from Kelso - made it 7-0.
Barry Hamilton scored number two only a couple of minutes later, and with a quarter of the match gone good interplay between Stuart Thompson and Kevin Aitchison saw the former cross under the posts. Wilkinson converted.
Ross High narrowed the gap with a converted try, but Duns restored their advantage when Kevin Aitchison, who has returned to the club after a spell at Jed-Forest, scored and Wilkinson converted. Aitchison’s try saw him overhaul his father’s points total for the Firsts (but not his total tries - Aitch played in the days when tries were worth four points each).
Shortly before half time a controlled rolling maul by the Duns pack allowed Danny Lamb to nip over for the fifth try, and Keiran Wilkinson’s conversion gave the visitors the lead by 33-7 at half time.
At the interval Duns took the opportunity to take off two youngsters in the back row and introduce two ‘older’ heads, when Bert Grigg and Dane Ivison were replaced by Richard Burns and Chris Blaikie, and Barry Hamilton also took a break from front row duties to be replaced by the latest product from the Colts side Michael Dickson.
After half time the pace of the game slowed and Duns added a further two tries. Andrew Baxter completed his brace, and with only a couple of minutes remaining Dane Ivison (who by then had come back on to the field) completed the scoring. Keiran Wilkinson kicked the first conversion for a personal tally of 10 points.
The Duns team was : Stuart Thompson; Ben Black, Neil Graham, Kevin Aitchison and Andrew Baxter; Keiran Wilkinson and Danny Lamb; Andrew Connor, Cammy Hill, Barry Hamilton, Stewart Cockburn, Duncan Budge (captain), Dane Ivison, Bert Grigg and Chris Williamson. The replacements, all of whom featured at some stage, were Michael Dickson, Scott Turnbull, Chris Blaikie, Richard Burns, Scott McCraw and Stevie Crawford.
Duns 1st and 2nd XV’s both get their league campaigns under way this saturday. The First XV travel to Linlithgow for a 3pm kick off against a side who were playing in National 1 last season, while the Second XV entertain Edinburgh Northern 2nds in the Reserve Leagues at the Hardens. Kick off in both matches is at 3pm. There is no Colts match this week.