East Division One met East Division Two in the BT Borders Regional Shield at Volunteer Park on Saturday, writes Gary Alexander.
Based on league positions and recent results, Linden were overwhelming favourites, but a rather ragged performance from the Royal Blues, together with a great effort from Earlston, ensured the home side had to work hard for their win.
The men from The Haugh opened the scoring with an early Scott Bell penalty goal. From a scrum five, Kirk Ford’s deft pass put Phil Mactaggart over at the posts and the stand-off converted before landing another penalty.
It took the Royal Blues until the 33rd minute to score again, this time Craig Smith bulldozing his way over with Ford converting. The half ended with Linden 17-3 to the good.
A defensive error in the Earlston in goal area proved costly when Steven Anderson pounced for an opportunist try and with half-an-hour to go there seemed ample time for Linden to secure one more touchdown for the try bonus.
However, the game became bogged down and somewhat untidy. Some high tackles crept in, culminating in a clothes-liner from Linden’s Craig Smith who was rightly sent to the naughty step.
Earlston were not for lying down and after a long period of pressure, which had been well defended, scrum-half Ian Dick spun out of a tackle for a try the visitors richly deserved.
It was only from this point that Linden exerted some real authority with further touchdowns by Rory Smith, Graham Colville and Craig Smith, all converted by Ford.