Duns 27 Royal High 24: Duns come from behind to win top of table clash

Duns entertained Royal High at Castle Park, the Edinburgh side's first visit to Duns for more than 20 years, and won a highly entertaining match with a last minute penalty goal after trailing 19-0 with 30 minutes gone.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 14th January 2019, 10:30 am
Updated Monday, 14th January 2019, 10:43 am
Duns moved within eight points of Royal High in second place with the bonus points victory
Duns moved within eight points of Royal High in second place with the bonus points victory

The win helped Berwick, who move ten points clear of Royal High at the top of the table after a crushing win over Livingston. Royal High started well and demonstrated a willingness to run the ball at every opportunity, regardless of where they took possession. This high tempo style of play kept Duns on the back foot throughout most of the first half.

The opening try was a gift by Duns, who dropped a pass only 10 metres from their own line. All the Royal High centre had to do was pick up and stroll over. The relatively simple conversion was missed.

Duns were conceding many penalties under incessant pressure from Royal High, and the visitors kept up their momentum with the tap-and-go whenever possible. This brought its due reward when the second try was scored, this time converted, and Royal High had the lead by 12-0.

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The visitors then scored their third try under controversial circumstances. Duns were attacking up the right wing, deep inside the Royal High 22, when a pass to Greg Gillan on the right wing was knocked on by a defender. At least a scrum for a knock-on, or possibly even a yellow card for a deliberate knock on. The referee gave neither, and as the Duns players stopped, expecting to hear the whistle, Royal High picked up and sprinted the length of the field for try number three, which was again converted.

Duns found themselves 19-0 down, and to compound their problems the talismanic back row duo of Michael Thomson and Nathan Melrose were both forced to retire injured within a few minutes of each other. Their replacements were Sam Tullie and Richard Burns.

As half time approached, Duns began to win more ball, they had more territory, and their pack gained the ascendancy both in the loose and the tight, where Royal High conceded a string of penalties at scrum time. The first Duns score came from Richard Burns, who crashed over from close range to round off a great passage of play by the forwards.

Duns had the strong wind at their backs in the second half, and weathered an early Royal High storm before using sheer brute force to firstly get back on level terms and then take the lead. Richard Burns scored his second of the match in circumstances very similar to his first, with Dale Robertson converting.

With 20 minutes remaining Duns drew level when the pack once again did the hard yards up the centre of the park. They drove time and again into the visitors' close defence, with the final drive over the line coming from prop Dougie Turnbull, who scored his first ever try for the first team. Indeed, he announced afterwards that it was his first-ever try in any grade of rugby. Great stuff.

At this stage it was all Duns, and Royal High looked completely rattled. The home side took the lead with a typical Danny Lamb try - the scrum half dummying to pass to the right, then taking on - and beating - the fringe defenders at the ruck to go over close to the posts. Dale Robertson's conversion slipped past the sticks, and so Royal High knew that a converted score of their own would probably win the match.

The visitors then enjoyed a purple patch of 10 minutes or so, when they battered the Duns line. The home pack was equal to the challenge, although Royal High scored wide out on the left when they exploited an overlap with quick ball along the line. The conversion was missed, and so once again it was all square at 24-24.

Duns then mounted a final challenge for all five points. A long range penalty attempt was missed, but with time almost up Royal High were penalised in front of their own posts for collapsing a scrum and Dale Robertson calmly slotted the winning goal kick for a famous 27-24 win.

The Duns team was :- David Hutchison; Greg Gillan, Chip Brailsford, Dale Robertson and Nathan Chisholm; Kieran Wilkinson and Danny Lamb; James Murphy, Cammy Hill, Jordon Patterson, Josh Herbert, Scott Millar, Nathan Melrose, Bert Grigg ( captain ) and Michael Thomson. The replacements were Sam Tullie, Richard Burns, Dougie Turnbull and Scott Turnbull.

Next week Duns travel to Tranent to play Ross High in the league - kick off is at 2pm.