DUNS entertained Langholm for the second time this season when the sides met at Berwickshire High School on Saturday in the RBS Border Shield.
Langholm had won the league match at the Hardens in October by the odd points in 35, and so a close contest was expected and that was exactly how the match turned out.
The match had been in doubt right up until the last minute. Heavy rain during the week, combined with the melting of eight inches of snow, had left the pitch saturated, and the very soft underfoot conditions undoubtedly affected both sides.
By the end of the match the teams were almost indistinguishable, caked in mud from head to foot. There will be no volunteers to launder the strips this week!
Langholm started brightly, and played the opening 20 minutes or so almost exclusively in the Duns half.
Duns were guilty of conceding penalty after penalty at ruck and maul, and the referee’s patience snapped after as little as 10 minutes when he sent Duns skipper Duncan Budge to the sin bin. Langholm by this stage were 3-0 to the good, and Cubbon doubled his side’s lead with his second penalty as a result of Budge’s sin-binning.
The Langholm kicker had further opportunities to increase the lead, but squandered at least two very kickable shots at goal in the opening quarter.
Duns then came more into the match, led by bullocking runs from Richard Burns and Chris Williamson, and finally gained some ascendancy.
After a long period of pressure the first try was scored by David Hutchison, who was the beneficiary of a scoring pass from stand-off Keiran Wilkinson. Wilkinson could easily have scored himself, after a couple of dummy passes had left him in the clear only five metres out, but he chose to pop a pass to Hutchison and he touched down for the first of his second hundred tries for the First XV.
On the stroke of half time Duns increased their lead. From a ruck on the Langholm 10 metre line, Daniel Wright spotted a chink of a gap, and he sprinted clear.
He was hauled down less than 10 metres out, but scrum-half Neil Graham was on hand to accept the scoring pass and he crossed between the posts. Dale Robertson kicked the conversion and Duns had the lead by 12-6 at the interval.
A Robertson penalty, and a lengthy spell of Duns pressure, at the start of the second half suggested that Duns would pull away from their visitors and win the match comfortably. However, a Langholm revival, coupled with the deteriorating underfoot conditions, meant that the match petered out.
Tempers flared and a few handbags were thrown, and the only scoring in the last half hour of the game was a third penalty by Cubbon for the visitors.
Full credit to Langholm for coming all the way to Duns with only the bare bones of a side. They stayed in the clubrooms afterwards until the Calcutta Cup match had finished on television, and still have a very good chance of winning the Border Shield after Berwick’s loss at home to Gala YM.
Duns have now won three matches on the bounce, their best run of the season, and will be in good heart for their trip to the capital this Saturday to play Portobello in a re-arranged league fixture.
The match ball was very kindly sponsored by R.M. Markby Ltd.
The Duns team was: Dale Robertson; Andrew Baxter, Ross Turner, Scott Lindsay and David Hutchison; Keiran Wilkinson and Neil Graham; Scott McCraw, Cammy Hill, Andrew Connor, Duncan Budge (captain), Scott Turnbull, Daniel Wright, Richard Burns and Chris Williamson. The replacements were Stewart Cockburn, Jamie Renton, Danny Lamb and Allen Whellans. A special mention, too, for Frazer Howie and Euan Reed.