by Derek Simpson
at The Hardens
Duns will play in a Murrayfield final for the second time in three seasons after overcoming a very well-organised and determined Lenzie side in the semi-final of the Regional Bowl thanks to three tries from Ryan Selkirk.
From the squad of 22 which played in the quarter-final at Alloa seven days previously only Colin Tait was unavailable due to work commitments, and so Ben Black was called up to the side. However, the starting 15 were re-shuffled slightly, with no injury worries.
Despite heavy overnight rain the pitch was in perfect condition. Lenzie won the toss and opted to play up the slope and into a stiff wind, which had abated somewhat by the time Duns had to face it after the interval.
Lenzie signalled from the outset their intent to run the ball wherever possible and conditions were perfect for the Duns running game, so it was end-to-end stuff.
Duns opened the scoring with a splendid try after ten minutes when stand-off Ged Lamb popped a short pass to Scott Lindsay. With Kevin Aitchison going on a dummy run to draw the attention of a couple of defenders, Lamb looped Lindsay and took a return pass. This created an overlap on the right, which was fully exploited when Selkirk crossed untouched in the corner. The conversion attempt shaved the post but stayed out.
Five minutes later there was an almost identical score. Good work by the forwards took play beyond the Lenzie 10 metre line and quick ball created an overlap on the right. Dale Robertson drew his tackler and gave a perfectly-weighted pass to Selkirk, who crossed for his second score. He took the ball round behind the posts to make Robertson’s conversion a formality, and those two points brought up his 1000th first XV point.
Duns then huffed and puffed, but could not break Lenzie down. The home side were perhaps guilty of kicking away too much possession, hoping that the strong wind would take them into attacking positions, but Lenzie repelled everything that Duns could offer.
Just as it seemed the half would end with Duns only 12-0 to the good, and with the wind to face after the break, Scott Lindsay put in a deft grubber kick ahead. Jamie Renton seemed to be about to win the race to pounce on the loose ball, but he was tackled by a Lenzie defender and the referee awarded a penalty try. The conversion made it 19-0 at half time.
The decision to award the penalty try was perhaps a little harsh on Lenzie, and any confidence they had about mounting comeback with the wind at their backs had evaporated after only 10 minutes of the half, by which time Duns had added two more tries and had an unassailable lead of 31 points.
Duns absorbed everything Lenzie could muster in the opening minutes, but it was the home side who broke upfield to score the half’s first try. David Hutchison, who was given a testing time by his equally-pacy opposite number on the Lenzie right wing, rounded his man and sped up the touchline from half way to score his 27th try of a record-breaking season, and had the nous to go round behind the posts to make Robertson’s conversion a formality.
Almost from the restart, Duns came straight back up the park for try number five. Richard Burns, who made a significant impact when he came on as a replacement at half time, made ground up the middle and when the ball came along the backline Ged Lamb made a super break inside his opposite number and raced 25 metres up the pitch. He gave a neat inside pass to Scott Lindsay and when his progress was halted just inside the Lenzie 22 he threw a pass out to the right. Selkirk had been following up and after the ball had bounced a couple of times he scooped it up and beat the last man to score his hat-trick try.
Lenzie could have been forgiven for caving in completely, but for the remainder of the match they were the better side and as Duns emptied their bench so the fluidity of their game seemed to disappear. Lenzie scored midway through the half through their full-back Stephen Jones – probably their best player on the day – and the same player added a second try with five minutes left when he took advantage of a fumble by the Duns backs. The second try was converted by Grant Fraser.
Duns: D Robertson (captain); R Selkirk, K Aitchison, S Lindsay, D Hutchison; G Lamb, D Lamb; S McCraw, C Hill, A Auld, J Thorburn, J Weir, J Renton, R Nimmo and C Blaikie. Subs used: C Archer, B Hamilton, S Blyth, D Ivison, R Burns, S Cooke, B Black.