Hawick Linden 14
Duns travelled to Hawick on Saturday to play the Linden in what was the 500th league match played by the club since entering the national leagues.
Hawick Linden started the match looking anything like the team which had lost all of their previous 13 league matches this season. A few players had been drafted in from higher up the Hawick rugby ladder.
Linden deservedly took the lead after only 10 minutes with a converted try, and at that stage things looked ominous for Duns.
However, the match settled down and Duns won more and more possession as their forwards gradually exerted some dominance over the home pack. They levelled the scores midway through the first half when skipper Hayden Martin went over in the corner, and Lewis Craik slotted an excellent conversion from the touchline. This was Martin’s final match of the season for Duns, as he heads off to his native New Zealand for a holiday later in the week. At the age of 36 he said it was his final match for the club, but we’ll see!
The visitors took the lead before half time when Danny Lamb scored a try between the posts to make Lewis Craik’s conversion a formality.
In the second half, Duns enjoyed much more possession. The first try saw Josh Herbert crash through a melee of players to score close to the posts. Once again Lewis Craik obliged with the conversion.
It wasn’t long before Duns scored their fourth try, bringing them the bonus point and at the same time making sure of the win which all but guarantees their survival in East 1 this season. Linden were forced back over their own line and gave away a five metre scrum, and from a steady platform Richard Burns picked up and drove over for a textbook number 8’s try. Lewis Craik kicked his fourth conversion of the match.
The final Duns try was scored by Gavin Tait. Callum Redden made another arcing run through the Linden defence, although he was perhaps ill-advised to shriek ‘yee-hah’ whilst doing so. This resulted in him being absolutely nailed in the tackle by the Linden number 8, the kenspeckled Barry Keown, although Duns retained possession. A couple of phases later big Gavin Tait crashed over from close range and Lewis Craik popped over conversion number 5. Tait and Angus Tullie were in imperious form at the lineout for Duns, and also locked the scrum well, factors which have certainly contributed to Duns winning 5 of their last 8 league games.
Just as they had scored the first try of the match, so Linden scored the last, and what a good try it was. Their centre took the ball just outside the Duns 22, and from there set off on the most unlikely run to the try line. The venue for the match, Wilton Lodge Park, is also home to a bust of the great rugby commentator Bill McLaren, and one of his commentating gems was to describe a Welsh player as being like ‘a baggy up a Borders burn’. That description could also apply to the Linden try-scorer as he jinked this way and that, sidestepped, dummied, and then scored a fine solo try. The successful conversion made it 35-14 to Duns, and also heralded the referee’s final whistle.
The win should see Duns safe in East 1 this season, as Dalkeith will now require to win two, and possibly all three, of their remaining fixtures to overtake them.
Duns: Callum Redden, Josh Herbert, Bert Grigg, Lewis Craik and Charlie Woodhouse; Hayden Martin, Danny Lamb; Gordon Harkins, Cammy Hill, Ollie Smith, Gavin Tait, Angus Tullie, Allen Whellans, Richard Burns, Michael Thomson. Replacements were - Dougie Turnbull, Steven Markby, Scott Turnbull, James Murphy.