Duns 57 Hawick Harlequins 40: High scoring game ends with Duns success

Duns in action last weekend against Linlithgow
Duns in action last weekend against Linlithgow

Duns entertained Hawick Harlequins at Castle Park on an unseasonally warm February afternoon, and despite surrendering a 14 point lead twice during a helter skelter contest pulled away in the final quarter to win by 57 points to 40 in a match of no fewer than 14 tries.

The home side were first to score in a frantic first half which saw 52 points shared by the teams. A very kickable penalty was instead kicked to the corner, and from a lineout first John Walker and then Nathan Chisholm made ground. A ruck was set up, where Nathan Melrose took a popped pass from Keiran Wilkinson at 9, and he crashed over from close range. Dale Robertson converted.

Quins then joined the points-scoring party, when they scored a try from a scrum 10 metres out. A break to the blind side gave them a try in the corner, but Scott Peffers missed his only shot at goal all afternoon and Duns led by 7 - 5.

Straight from the re-start kick Duns turned over Quins ball and Michael Thomson broke a tackle from 40 metres out and set off on what has become a trade-mark run by this season's top try-scorer. He was tap-tackled only a couple of metres short of the line, but kept possession of the ball and managed to lunge over before the covering defenders arrived. Dale Robertson missed the conversion from the touchline.

Quins then equalised when they took advantage of a huge overlap on the left and scored in the corner.

Duns regained the lead when a speculative kick ahead bounced awkwardly on the Quins 22 metre line. Their left wing eventually gathered the ball, but he attempted to offload while lying prone on the ground and his pass was intercepted by Mark Alexander who ran round behind the posts unchallenged.

Only three minutes later Duns had their bonus point. John Walker - who put in a man-of-the-match performance at number 8 - broke the Quins line, and when tackled had Michael Thomson on his shoulder to take a scoring pass.

Quins bounced straight back, and scored two tries of their own to tie the scores at the interval. Duns may have been impressive in attack, but their defensive line was very brittle, so that by the break it was 26 points each with both teams securing a try bonus point.

The second half was only 30 seconds old before Duns restored their lead. John Walker challenged for the ball from the Duns kick-off, and won possession on the Quins 22. Two phases later, Dale Robertson crossed for try number 5 which he converted himself.

Straight from the Quins re-start kick Josh Herbert made a break deep into Quins territory, and from quickly-recycled ball Mark Alexander ran a beautiful line to split the visitors' defence wide open and he went over for his second score of the game. Robertson again converted.

At 40-26 up Duns should have had the game won but another Quins revival, coupled with two yellow cards for Duns - which overlapped, meaning that for 5 minutes Duns were reduced to 13 players - saw the visitors once again tie the scores. All of a sudden is was 40 - 40 and no-one had a clue where the scoring would end.

It was at this point that Duns introduced Jamie Renton as a replacement in the centre, and he had an immediate impact. From spilled ball in the Quins centre, he hacked on once, and then again, and was set to win the race to touch down for a try when he was impeded, the referee rightly awarding a penalty try.

With time running out, Josh Herbert crashed over from close range after good work by Tom Swan, with Dale Robertson converting. A penalty to Duns in front of the posts was also kicked by Robertson for a personal tally of 20 points in the game. The final whistle brought an end to a match where no fewer than 97 points were scored. Quins' 40 points was the highest score conceded by Duns in a match which they won - eclipsing the 35 scored by Earlston at the Hardens in April 2010, where Duns came out on top by 53 - 35.

Duns played really well in attack, with the back row of Nathan Melrose, John Walker and Michael Thomson all outstanding. Credit also to Keiran Wilkinson at scrum half - the third player to fill that position in the last three games - who provided a vital link between forwards and backs.

This Saturday Duns make the short trip over the border to Scremerston to face Berwick - kick off is at 3 pm.

The Duns team was :- David Hutchison; Nathan Chisholm, Mark Alexander, Tom Swan and Greg Gillan; Dale Robertson and Keiran Wilkinson; James Murphy, Cammy Hill ( captain ), Chris Roberts, Josh Herbert, Scott Millar, Nathan Melrose, John Walker and Michael Thomson. The replacements were Alex Orr, Scott Turnbull, Jamie Renton and Adam Davison.