Comfortable victory for Duns but semi-finals are out of their reach

Dale Robertson with the ball for Duns RFC in their 15-9 win over Langholm in the RBS Border Shield
Dale Robertson with the ball for Duns RFC in their 15-9 win over Langholm in the RBS Border Shield

Hawick Harlequins10 Duns 34 DUNS travelled to Hawick on Saturday in the fifth round of the RBS Border Shiels and recorded a comfortable bonus point win.

Despite their victory, however, results elsewhere in the competition mean that Duns can now no longer qualify for the national semi-finals of the competition.

The Quins kicked off on a bitterly cold afternoon at Wilton Lodge Park, and for the opening quarter of an hour they barely touched the ball. The Duns scrummage completely dominated the home pack, pushing the Quins off their own ball on innumerable occasions, and with an almost unlimited supply of ball the visitors’ backs had ample opportunity to show off their pace and flair.

Dale Robertson scored the opening try after only 5 minutes, and three minutes later left winger Andrew Baxter rounded off a flowing backs move when he crossed in the left corner. Try number three was not long in coming, this time from the Duns right winger Ross Turner, and with Keiran Wilkinson kicking the conversion Duns lead by 17-0 after barely 15 minutes.

The visitors then seemed to lose much of their shape, perhaps thinking that the game was done and dusted, and this allowed the Quins to come right back into the match. They scored a fine try midway through the half, and the successful conversion and then a penalty brought them right back into the game at 17-10.

This seemed to spur Duns out of their torpor, and they dominated the remainder of the first half. From another huge shunt in the scrum, Quins lost ball against the head and Danny Lamb set off toward the line. He had the strength to shrug off at least two would-be tacklers, and although brought down short of the line his momentum carried him over for try number four.

On the stroke of half time Chris Williamson bullocked his way over from just inside the Quins 22, and Duns lead 27-10 at the break.

Harlequins lost a player injured at half time, and another early in the second half, and with only 17 players at their disposal they were down to the bare bones. Still, they stuck to their task and never gave up, but with the Duns scrummage being so dominant they were fighting a losing battle.

Danny Lamb scored his second try of the game 11 minutes into the half after another powerful run from the base of a ruck just outside the Quins 22, and a successful conversion by Keiran Wilkinson extended the lead to 34-10.

The visitors were then reduced to 14 men when Andrew Connor incurred the referee’s wrath for a late tackle on the Quins left winger, and it was during his spell on the sidelines that there was an almighty collision between Duns number 8 Richard Burns and the Quins’ biggest and most influential forward. The impact was between Burns’ head and the Hawick player’s knee, and of course the Hawick player came off second best. Now reduced to only 14 players, the Quins skipper suggested that proceedings be brought to a premature end to save his side from taking any more injuries. Although Duns at the time only had 14 players on the park themselves, captain Duncan Budge agreed and so the referee blew the final whistle with fully 15 minutes remaining.

This was a vastly improved performance by Duns and sets them up nicely for their penultimate home league match this weekend when Portobello are the visitors. Please check on the club website for confirmation as to where the game will be played.

Despite their win, Duns can no longer win the RBS Border Shield, and thereby qualify for the national semi finals of the Shield competition. Berwick are currently in pole position, and will win the Shield with a win at Langholm on March 16. Should they slip up, Gala will win the Shield if they can prevail over Hawick Harlequins in their final match.

The Duns team was :- Neil Graham; Ross Turner, Stuart Thomson, Dale Robertson and Andrew Baxter; Keiran Wilkinson and Danny Lamb; Scott McCraw, Allen Whellans, Andrew Connor, Duncan Budge ( captain ), John Walker, Chris Williamson, Richard Burns and Peter Lamb. The replacements were Cammy Hill, Stuart Davies, Joe Baker and Scott Turnbull. Peter Lamb and Joe Baker were playing for the Firsts for the first time this season, bringing to 45 the total number of players to have represented the club at First XV level so far this season.