WITHOUT the services of three first team regulars due to injury - captain Duncan Budge (shoulder), Kevin Aitchison (shoulder) and Ben Black (broken leg) - the Duns team were hoping to end a disappointing losing streak in the East 1 League but faced a big challenge from Preston Lodge sitting second top and eager to keep the pressure on leaders Livingston.
Duns played uphill in the first half into the face of a stiff wind and were the better team in the first quarter but despite the vast majority of possession and territory were unable to breach the visitors’ defence.
On several occasions the wrong option was taken and any turnover was kicked on the wind deep into the Duns half.
On their first two encounters into Duns territory following kicks into the 22, the referee penalised defenders and Preston’s stand-off kicked easy penalties to give his side a 6–0 lead.
Duns did have a scoring opportunity after 14 minutes when speedster David Hutchison raced for a loose ball but was tackled before he was able to collect. The referee did not see anything amiss and PL were able to clear their lines.
A couple of minutes later Preston Lodge scored their first try, the referee awarded a scrum to PL for a Duns knock-on but was not well placed to see that a visiting player had in fact knocked it back.
From this set piece the PL winger made a break and was finished off by their centre in support. The conversion was missed to make the score 0–11.
The home pack looked to have the better of things in the set scrum but when the East Lothian team lost one of their props with an injury, their front row cover was a hooker and the scrums went to uncontested.
On 25 minutes. with Duns losing out heavily in the penalty count. they conceded yet another in front of the posts and PL kicked another three points.
With the game heading towards half-time and still nothing to show for their efforts, the home support were hoping for a change in fortune.
However, instead of turning around 14 points in arrears the Dingers lost two soft trys and with one successful conversion the half time score was a disappointing Duns 0 Preston Lodge 26.
The wind eased off in the second half but Duns remained in control of possession but as in the first half they were unable to convert their authority into points.
The Prestonpans side have to be given credit for their solid defence, which has conceded the least points in the league. They did not however, look like adding to their tally playing up The Hardens’ slope.
Luck seemed to desert the home side.
On three occasions they were over the try line but nothing was given by former international referee Iain Ramage. David Hutchison dived onto a kick ahead in the in-goal area but was not judged to have made downward pressure to the bewilderment of the home support; James Thorburn was convinced he had scored but Mr Ramage decided the ball was held up; and Stuart Thomson dived over the line but superb defence by PL did prevent the ball being grounded.
Dale Robertson kicked a penalty deep into the opposition half but again luck ran out and the ball crossed out of play in the in-goal area giving an uncontested scrum to PL in midfield.
With less than 10 minutes remaining the Duns day became worse when they were reduced to 14 players, substitute Jamie Renton playing on the wing was shown a red card following a robust tackle. The referee deemed it to be illegal, however, the partisan home crowd thought it hard but fair.
Preston Lodge seized their chance to score a fourth try to capture the bonus point with a converted try at the end, the Duns supporters were again incensed when the referee allowed what appeared to be a forward pass.
With the amount of posession it was difficult to comprehend how the defeat was so emphatic and on another day Duns could have given their opponents a close game.
This game saw the completion of the first half of the league. This Saturday Duns welcome Linlithgow hoping to gain revenge after the first game of the season, kick off 2pm.
Duns: Stuart Thomson, David Hutchison Andy Hamilton, Dale Robertson (captain) and Neil Graham, Keiran Wilkinson and Danny Lamb, Scott McCraw, Allen Whellans and Andrew Connor, Stewart Cockburn, Stewart Davies, Chris Blaikie, Martin Aitchison and Scott Lindsay. Substitutes all used were Cammy Hill, James Thorburn, Richard Burns and Jamie Renton.
Duns Colts lost 37-8 away to a strong Selkirk Youth Club side on Saturday.
The score was 13-8 in Selkirk’s favour at half-time with the Duns points coming from a converted try by Iain Sim. Dom Ginn converted the try to add to his earlier successful penalty.
Selkirk ran in four tries in the second half to clinch a comfortable win.