Earlston swamped by opponents’ second-half surge

Duns 52

Earlston 15

REGIONAL BOWL FIRST ROUND

AFTER seven blank Saturdays due to a mixture of snow, frost and the Christmas break, Duns and Earlston finally managed to play their twice-postponed Regional Bowl tie at The Hardens on Saturday, one of only three Scottish club matches to take place due to winter’s continuing icy grip.

The opening exchanges were scrappy as both sides got used both to the tricky underfoot conditions and the fact that they had not played any competitive rugby for two months.

The deadlock was finally broken after 10 minutes when Duns prop Scott McCraw drove over from short range.

This seemed to spur Earlston on and for the next 20 minutes or so they enjoyed a purple patch during which they scored 15 points without reply. A penalty goal from Barry Watson reduced the leeway before Earlston took the lead with their first try. A speculative punt from the visitors’ stand-off bounced over the head of Duns winger David Hutchison straight into the arms of the chasing Scott Renton who romped up the touchline to score in the corner. Minutes later a loose ball was collected by an Earlston player deep in the Duns 22 and two phases later Scott Bell had scored under the bar – an easy conversion for Watson.

Had the visitors scored again before the break, the whole complexion of the match would have changed, but Duns got the next try when Jamie Renton was set free up the right wing. His swallow dive over the try-line was perhaps inadvisable in the bone-hard conditions, but he didn’t seem to suffer any damage as he scored his 11th try of the season.

After the break the hosts ran riot with six touchdowns, all of which were converted, starting as early as the second minute of the half when No.8 Richard Burns drove over. More followed through Alexander Auld, Dale Robertson, Colin Tait, Burns and Ged Lamb. Referee Ronnie Dumma brought the game to a slightly premature end as frost descending on the pitch began to harden.

Duns: D. Robertson; J. Renton, R. Selkirk, S. Lindsay, D. Hutchison; G. Lamb, D. Lamb; S. McCraw, C. Hill, B. Hamilton, James Thorburn, S. Blyth, C. Blaikie, R. Burns, D. Ivison. Subs: A. Auld, C. Archer, Johnnie Thorburn, J. Weir, E. Reed, C. Tait, K. Aitchison.

Earlston: B. Watson; B. Douglas, B. Smart, Steven Renton, Scott Renton; S. Bell, G. Renwick; S. McDowall, L. Bottomley, D. Sinclair, N. McDonald, Steven Cessford, R. Aitchison, D. Cessford, S. Thom. Subs: Shaun Cessford, E. Gracie, I. Russell, J. Threadgall.

z Apart from Gala v Kelso, in the only other game involving Scottish clubs to go ahead over the weekend, Berwick were beaten 23-8 by Allan Glen’s in the National Shield competition at Scremerston.