DUNS 16 DUNBAR 7
Duns entertained Penicuik at Castle Park as the fixtures in BT East League Division 1 reached the half way stage, and recorded a fourth straight win to consolidate their position in the middle of the table.
Penicuik, who won East 2 last season, were in ninth place in the table before the match but offered stiffer resistance than their league position suggested.
Duns were never able to exert any real dominance over their visitors, and it wasn’t until a penalty in the final minute of normal time that the result was made certain.
Duns kicked off on another beautiful late autumn afternoon, with hardly a breath of wind and the pitch much drier than it had been seven days previously. Penicuik enjoyed all of the early possession and territory, but were unable to open their account.
They missed a relatively straightforward drop goal attempt after five minutes.
Duns then came more into the match and enjoyed a period of dominance, although the only points they were able to score in this time came from the boot of Lewis Craik.
Penicuik were penalised for going offside just inside their own 22, and Duns really should have done better while the referee was playing advantage when they squandered a gilt-edged opportunity to score the game’s opening try. The play was called back for the penalty and Craik kicked three points from in front of the posts.
The home side then seemed to take their collective foot off the pedal, and were at sixes and sevens for a long period. They fell off tackles and made mistakes which allowed the visitors back into the contest.
Penicuik took the lead with 28 minutes gone with a try close to the Duns posts, and a successful conversion gave them the lead 7-3.
With half-time approaching Duns scored their only try of the game. Caik fluffed a penalty attempt at goal, and after the ball had gone dead Penicuik restarted with a 22 drop-out.
The Duns kicker made amends by charging down the drop-out and re-gathering the ball. After making a couple of metres he popped a pass to Josh Herbert, who was quickest to react, and the Duns second row crashed through a couple of tackles to score his second try in three matches. Craik kicked the extras to give Duns a slender 10-7 advantage at half time.
The second half was a rather forgettable, error-strewn affair, with neither side able to gain the upper hand. The Duns scrum once again worked well, taking a number of Penicuik put-ins against the head, and the home team’s defence was once more in imperious form as Duns tackled and tackled all afternoon.
Penicuik showed glimpses of the form which won them East 2 last season, but were starved of possession for long periods and had little real opportunity going forward.
Having said that, Penicuik would have taken the lead had a pass to their right wing David Zavaroni gone to hand on the Duns 22, as he would have had a clear run in behind the posts.
The 48-year-old Zavaroni intends to call time on his playing career at the end of the season after loyally serving both Penicuik and Corstorphine for more than a quarter of a century at first XV level.
Craik kicked a penalty to stretch the Duns lead to 13-7, but there was still hope for Penicuik when Angus Tullie received a yellow card with 15 minutes remaining. It was not to be, however, and as the clock wound down Craik kicked his third penalty to deprive the visitors of even a losing bonus point which they surely deserved.
Right on full-time Duns were dealt the cruellest of blows when big second rower Alex Cacciamani went down with a bad leg injury. He was taken to hospital, where a double leg break was diagnosed.
He had surgery at the weekend, and all at the club would like to wish him well and hope that he makes a full and speedy recovery.
Forrester’s win at Linlithgow means that Duns are now up into sixth position after four wins on the bounce. Duns actually have a better results record than the two teams immediately above them – Berwick and Dunbar – but their lack of bonus points ( Berwick have seven, Dunbar have six and Duns have none ) keeps them in the bottom half of the table.
Duns: Robertson; Swan, Fleming, Thomson, Alexander; Craik, Martin; Turnbull, Chisholm, Smith, Herbert, Cacciamani, Harkins, Grigg (captain), Walker. Replacements: Turnbull, Tullie, Turner, Redden.
This week Duns begin the return fixtures in the league with a home match against leaders Murrayfield Wanderers. The match is scheduled to kick off at 2 pm, but may be put back to 3 pm if the visitors agree – please check the usual social media sites nearer the date.