Late loss for Hawick Linden

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Hawick Linden 5 North Berwick 10

RBS EAST LEAGUE DIVISION 1

THERE was heartache for the Linden last weekend as visitors North Berwick scored a try deep into injury time to snatch a narrow victory.

The home side’s lengthening injury list resulted in three changes from the previous week, stand-off Kirk Ford failing a late fitness test.

Heavy rain left the pitch extremely soft and contributed to an error strewn match which made it difficult for either side to play with any fluency.

It was fully 26 minutes before the first real scoring chance as the home side missed a penalty kick at goal. Just a minute later though the Linden opened the scoring. Craig Mitchell fielded a kick inside his own half and play was taken on by Shaun Fairbairn then good hands put Conor Gracie into space on the wing. As he was closed down he kicked on and, in the trying conditions, the ball was misfielded by North Berwick and Graeme Anderson hacked on to dive over.

The East Lothian side turned up the pressure and the Royal Blues were furiously defending their line when a stray boot connected with Gary Wardle, who left for repairs to his nose, to be replaced by Andrew Baillie. The visiting prop was arguably a little fortunate to only be yellow carded.

Being a man down did not deter North Berwick and a scything run looked as though it might lead to a try until full-back Anderson put in a superb tackle. Although the visitors had more of the first half territory, the home side went into the break 5-0 ahead.

The lead didn’t last long as early in the second half a series of scrums had the Linden under real pressure. Just when it looked like the Royal Blues might escape as the ball squirted out North Berwick quickly worked it to their winger who went over in the corner for the equalizing try.

Some great play from a quick line out throw inside the Linden half took play deep into the North Berwick half resulting in a penalty but the kick at goal was missed. Another penalty was awarded to the home team and this time they kicked to touch. A great drive was taken down on the visiting try line and North Berwick’s saw yellow for the second time. Despite their efforts the Linden couldn’t secure a score.

It was then North Berwick’s turn to apply the pressure and a dart for the line by their stand-off was stopped by a great tackle by Wardle. The Linden responded with some hard running by Anderson following a scrum which resulted in another penalty. Alas, for the third time, the relatively easy kick failed to hit the target.

As the game went into injury time a draw would probably been a fair result. However, North Berwick had one last push for victory. Scrum ball went wide to their winger who dived for the corner but a massive hit by Stuart Williams saved what looked a certain try.

The Linden weren’t off the hook though. With the game deep into injury time an attacking scrum wheeled for the North Berwick No. 8 to plunge over for the try that broke Linden hearts. There was only time for the visitors to catch the kick off and send the ball into touch to end the game.

The Linden probably didn’t deserve to lose in such circumstances but will rue their missed opportunities. Graeme Anderson and Stuart Williams put in the big hits in the backs whilst up front Connor Tofts was an ever willing ball carrier, James Hogg put in a big shift aided by the back row of Wardle, Cunningham and Fairbairn. Andrew Baillie also showed up well and was joined late on by brother Greg making his debut.

Hawick Linden: G. Anderson, D. Kyle, P. MacTaggart, S. Williams, C. Gracie, S. Renwick, R. Hamilton; K. Mabon, B. Mercer, C. Tofts, C. Mitchell, J. Hogg, G. Wardle, G. Cunningham, S. Fairbairn. Subs: R. Beattie, A. Baillie, G. Baillie, G. Blacklock.