HAWICK QUINS 42
Duns entertained Hawick Harlequins at Castle Park in their first home fixture of the season in BT East 1, and lost to their table-topping opponents by 42-15.
Out of the squad of 19 which had travelled to Murrayfield Wanderers seven days previously, no fewer than nine were unavailable to play against the Quins, and so coach Stephen Clark was forced to ring the changes.
Of the nine absent from the previous week, the most seriously injured was talismanic scrum-half Danny Lamb, who had surgery on his injured arm through the week.
He will probably miss the whole season and all at the club wish him a speedy recovery.
As well as the match against the Quins, the club was holding its RBS Rugby Force day and the Second XV entertained Queensferry in the East Development League, so Castle Park was very busy as each of the Duns players were led on to the field by a mascot from the club’s mini section.
The minis also played a short match on the pitch during the half-time interval.
The Quins kicked off with the slight breeze behind them in warm sunshine, and in the opening minutes it was all Duns.
The visitors weathered the early onslaught by the home side, and all Duns had to show for their early dominance was a penalty goal from Lewis Craik, playing in the unaccustomed role of stand-off.
The visitors came more into the match after that and had an opportunity to level the scores with a penalty attempt of their own, but Douglas sclaffed his shot at goal – unfortunately for Duns, this was to be his only missed kick all afternoon.
Midway through the half the Quins won a penalty in midfield and kicked to touch deep inside the Duns 22. From the lineout catch they set up a maul and then popped a pass to one of their second row forwards who barged his way over the line from close range.
Just after the half-hour mark Duns were in possession in midfield, but the ball was stripped in the tackle and the visitors had the easiest of run-ins from just inside the Duns half for try No.2.
Duns then kept their line intact until the closing seconds of the first half, when they conceded a very soft try.
Weak tackling in the centre of the home defence allowed the Quins to stroll over for their third try.
A simple conversion from between the sticks gave the visitors the lead by 21-3 at half-time.
If Duns were to get back on terms in the second period it was important that they score first after the interval.
However, it was the Quins who put the game out of sight with two converted tries within 10 minutes of the re-start, and the game was suddenly out of sight at 35-3.
Duns then seemed to find a new lease of life, and for the final half hour of the contest they competed on at least equal terms.
After a long period of possession, and after pressuring the Quins line for phase after phase, Dale Robertson found the strength to cross for the home side’s opening try.
He was tackled in the act of scoring and just had the reach to extend his arm to touch down at full stretch.
This was his 98th try for the first XV, taking him one closer to the exclusive club of three players who have topped the 100 mark for the firsts.
The conversion was kicked by Lewis Craik, drawing him exactly level with his father John on 120 points for Duns.
Duns continued to look to reduce the deficit and were unlucky to concede a try with under 10 minutes remaining when a long pass on halfway was intercepted by the Quins who jogged over to score.
The last word belonged to Duns, however, and with the referee having called ‘last play’ the home side scored wide out on the right after taking the ball through many phases. Ewan Fleming, recently returned from the Antipodes, crossed in the corner and the referee brought proceedings to a close.
Duns: Andrew Baxter; Lewis MacAndrew, Ewan Fleming, Dale Robertson and Charlie Woodhouse; Lewis Craik and Andrew Sanderson; Ollie Smith, Richard Hume, Dougie Turnbull, Scott Turnbull, Alex Cacciamani, Allen Whellans ( captain ), Bert Grigg and Gordon Harkins. Replacements: James Thorburn, Chris Williamson, Callum Redden and Alisdair Hamilton.
q This week Duns travel to North Berwick, who were forced to call off their match at Murrayfield Wanderers on Saturday as they were unable to raise a side.