After a month without a fixture, Duns travelled to West Lothian to play Linlithgow in an East 1 fixture, and lost a highly entertaining match by six tries to four, despite dominating for long spells.
Linlithgow immediately had Duns in a flap, and after the visitors had fluffed two clearance kicks to touch, the home side scored between the posts to take the lead with less than two minutes played.
After losing captain Bert Grigg to a head knock, Duns enjoyed a spell of pressure. Linlithgow conceded penalty after penalty and, after a few failed attempts kicking for touch, Dale Robertson opened the Duns account from 20 metres out.
From the restart, John Walker and then Michael Thomson took play straight back into the Linlithgow 22, but after the ball was recycled the home side took play almost the full length of the field. Duns conceded a lineout, where a catch and drive took Linlithgow over for their second converted try.
Another Robertson penalty narrowed the gap to 6-14, but Linlithgow quickly added to their tally when a missed tackle by the Duns backs allowed them to stroll over by the posts.
Despite trailing 21-6, Duns dominated possession and most of the play took place inside the home 22. After being held up over the line twice, a scrum 5 to Duns saw the ball reach Mark Alexander in the centre, and after a slicing diagonal run he fed Greg Gillan on the right wing who gathered the ball well and crossed in the corner for his first try for the First XV.
From Linlithgow’s restart kick, Nathan Melrose broke up the right wing, and he fed Greg Gillan who took play deep into the home 22. In their desperate attempts to slow down the ball at the ruck Linlithgow were penalised, and smart thinking by Josh Herbert saw him take a quick tap and barge over for another Duns try.
Both Duns tries went unconverted, but at 16-21 it was game on. However, before half time Linlithgow scored their bonus point try when yet more slack tackling allowed the home side in once again.
At the start of the second half it was all Duns, with the visitors pounding away at the home line. Their pressure eventually told, with Josh Herbert scoring a carbon copy of his earlier try. Dale Robertson once again missed the conversion, but the deficit had been reduced to 21-28.
The tit for tat scoring continued when Linlithgow scored what was undoubtedly the try of the game. A very deftly judged chip over the heads of the onrushing Duns defence was gathered on the full by the kicker inside the visitors’ 22, and when met by David Hutchison at full back he had support on his shoulder to cross for a beautifully-crafted score. This was converted, and a sixth try shortly afterwards gave Linlithgow an unassailable lead by 40 - 21.
The visitors did eventually manage to cross for their fourth try with only three minutes remaining, when Chip Brailsford found a gap at the base of a ruck and dived over for a bonus point score. Kieran Wilkinson converted.
There was still time for Duns to score again, which would have secured a second bonus point, but Linlithgow negotiated the closing moments of the match without conceding any further scores.
Another stiff test is in store this weekend when Hawick Harlequins visit Castle Park on Saturday - please note that the match will kick off at 12.30pm.