by Fiona Scott
Duns could never have imagined it would be so easy. Having already won the East League Division 1 championship, Dale Robertson’s men went into Saturday’s Regional Bowl final with great expectations and all the pressure that goes with it.
Not that you’d know it. They may have been up against a team they knew little about, but with an exhilarating first-half performance they simply blew Strathendrick away and ensured the Bowl would return to Berwickshire after a gap of 12 years.
Flying winger David Hutchison, who was the clear man of the match, won’t have many better days. Three tries from the 21-year-old and another from Ryan Selkirk, all of them coming in the first half, lead the Borders club to victory and secured a famous double.
There were certainly no big-game nerves on show from a Duns team whose superb first-half showing gave Strathendrick no way back.
After the break, defence was the name of the game as the Fintry-based club tried to come back into the game. But Duns were having none of it and a late try from Dane Ivison sealed the victory.
Captain Robertson told the Berwickshire News: “We really came out the blocks in the first half. We had to try and build the boys back up at half time and we came out just a bit too flat but we got back into it in the last 10 minutes and done enough to win. Our game plan was to get it up and then go wide and they clicked onto that and really tightened up their defence. The guys have worked hard all season and they thoroughly deserved to win.”
Vice-captain Jamie Renton added: “We had never seen Strathendrick playing though so they were a bit of an unknown quantity, but we have been playing well all season and we went into the game quietly confident and it’s credit to the hard work everyone has put in that we were able to lift the Bowl.
“I was really pleased with the way that we came out of the blocks firing. The guys had trained well during the week and we really took it to Strathendrick.
“Us forwards have known all season that we have some really good pace out wide and guys that will score tries given half a chance, and the two wingers showed that today.
“The way the club has come on in the last three or four years is really great. Back then, we were struggling in terms of numbers at training, but now we can field a second XV and things are looking up.”
Strathendrick never really got going and will now be focused on securing the West One title in the coming weeks.
Their key man was always likely to be Rory Kerr, the ex-Scotland man in the centre, but he never saw much of the ball and, when he did, he was marshalled superbly by the Duns defence.
In defeat, No 8 Ewan Mackay put in a good shift, as did teenage second-row Ruairidh Clark.
A good crowd of around 500 gathered for the opening game of Finals Day and Duns had a chance to put points on the board after just a minute when Kirkcaldy referee Mhairi Hay awarded an early penalty. Robertson’s attempt sailed wide in the sharp breeze but a minute later the Berwickshire outfit went ahead when Ryan Selkirk rounded the opposition to score wide out.
There was no let up from Duns and more pressure saw them work their way back downfield. Hutchison was next to break right through the middle of the Strathendrick defence and sail through the posts in a stylish swallow dive to touch down. Robertson added the conversion but minutes later Strathendrick closed the gap through a Sam Greenock penalty.
Straight from the kick-off Duns went on the rampage again and after creating a two man overlap out on the left a stylish link up between the backs allowed Hutchison in for his second.
It was a long 7 minute for the next score and it was Strathendrick who grabbed it through a second Greenock penalty. Like busses you wait for one and two come along at the same time. Fortunately for the Borderers the next was the Robertson express and another three points went the way of Duns.
Greenock missed a chance to close the gap further when a penalty went awry in the 33rd minute.
Looking to end the first half on a high Duns dug deep and their perseverance paid off when Hutchison run in for a third.
In total contrast to the action- packed first half the pace slowed down after the restart. Almost to a stand still.
In fact, with both defences tightened up considerably, the next try didn’t arrive until three minutes before the end of game. And deservedly it was Duns who scored it. Dane Ivison scorching up the park to take the final honours.
Hutchison and centre Scott Lindsay were the best players on the day for Duns, while Renton and his back-row mates Chris Blaikie and Russell Nimmo were also effective.