DUNS 19 EARLSTON 0
Duns welcomed Earlston to Castle Park for the opening match of 2017 to play for the Berwickshire Cup, and won an error-strewn, mundane fixture by 19 points to nil.
The home side dominated possession for almost the entire 80 minutes, but were able to score only three tries, two of which were converted, as rustiness following the Christmas and New Year holiday period and not having played for four weeks took their toll.
As a consequence, the match only fleetingly sparked into life with many of the spectators drifting away long before the end.
Duns opened the scoring after 10 minutes with probably the best move of the entire match.
A loop move in the centre created an overlap, which was exploited by a popped pass to Stuart Thompson who had entered the line at pace from the full back position.
He made 20 metres before cutting inside the covering full back to score by the posts. Dale Robertson added the conversion.
Both sides struggled to string more than two or three passes together without fumbling the ball or missing their target, and Duns barely had one straight throw in at the lineout, and so the match developed a stop – start pattern as the referee blew for scrum after scrum.
Nevertheless, throughout all this the home side’s defence held firm and there was only one spell in the second quarter of the match when Earlston came anywhere close to threatening the home try line.
The second Duns try was added after half an hour, when the home side took advantage of a two on one overlap up the left touchline.
Ryan Burns used his strength to outmuscle his opposite number on the wing for Earlston and he touched down in the corner too far out for Dale Robertson’s conversion attempt.
On the stroke of half-time the Earlston second row Steven Cessford left the field on a stretcher with what looked to be a serious leg injury. All at Duns hope that he makes a speedy recovery.
In the second half, the pace of the game dropped even further as all those extra helpings of turkey began to take their toll.
Passages of exciting play were few and far between on what was otherwise a perfect afternoon for a game of rugby, with no wind whatsoever and a dry ball. Cold hands couldn’t be blamed for the handling errors as the temperature was unseasonally high.
The final score of the match came with only five minutes remaining.
Duns had been threatening for some time, and when their progress was halted just short of the line the referee brought play back for a penalty to the home side. Skipper Bert Grigg took a quick tap and just managed to squeeze over with the benefit of a shove from some of his pack. Dale Robertson’s conversion found its mark, and the day’s scoring was complete.
One hopes that the cobwebs have been well and truly blown away by this fixture, as Duns face much sterner tests in the coming weeks when they entertain first Linlithgow ( 14th ) and then Berwick ( 21st) in the league. Both matches kick-off at 2 pm.
Duns: Thompson; Woodhouse, Alexander, Robertson, Burns; Fleming, Perring; Murphy, Hume, Smith; Herbert, Turnbull, Whellans, Grigg (captain, Harkins. Replacements: Chisholm, Orr, Redden.