Quins and Linden in Mansfield thriller

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Hawick Linden 33 Hawick Harlequins 28

RBS EAST DIVISION TWO

THIS top of the table clash at Mansfield Park had both sets of supporters in a crowd of around 300 biting their nails.

There was never more than five points in it until 60 minutes were on the clock as the lead constantly changed hands, the Quins ahead on four occasions and the Linden five.

Linden lost possession on receiving the kick off and Gavin Douglas dropped a goal to give the Quins an early lead. A Graham Colville run and kick ahead was chased by Greg Thomson who had outpaced the defence but the ball rolled into touch 10 yards from the line. However, this gave field position to the Linden from which they gained a penalty that Barry Sutherland slotted to level the scores.

The first try came from a lineout take by Shaun Fairbairn and a pop to Blaine Willison saw the big back row surge over. With the Linden in possession the ball shot back from a ruck and Quins were quickest to react and went blind. Neil Douglas broke free from his own half and had the pace to go the distance and draw the scores level again.

With the Quins caught offside, Sutherland kicked the resulting penalty but the Baker Street men hit straight back. Winning a ruck in the Linden 22, they went left and Graeme Lothian sliced through to touch down and Scott Peffers converted to put the Quins back ahead 15-11.

It was then the Royal Blues turn to respond. A penalty was kicked to touch and, following the lineout and hit up in midfield, play was switched left. With numbers up, Stuart Renwick threw a lovely miss pass that allowed Shaun Fairbairn to go over in the corner. Yet again the lead changed hands when the Linden were penalised at the breakdown just before the break and Peffers put over the penalty to give his side an 18-16 lead at half-time.

It was a nightmare start to the second half for the Quins as Greg Bouglas charged down a kick and, as he chased the ball as it neared the line, was held back and the referee ran under the posts to award a penalty try which Sutherland converted. Neither side seemed capable of holding a lead and the ding-dong nature on the scoreboard continued when Gavin Douglas’ delayed pass saw Lothian scamper over for his second try and Peffers’ conversion put the Quins 25-23 in front.

Unsurprisingly it was then the Linden’s turn to go ahead thanks to another Sutherland penalty. A storming run from Craig Mitchell took Linden deep into Quins territory and, when Craig Rogerson killed the ball he was yellow carded. Shortly after the Linden were awarded an easily kickable penalty but Sean Goodfellow took a quick tap and a couple of surges later Stuart Williams plunged over and Sutherland converted. For the first time in the game the lead was more than a converted try with the Linden 33-25 to the good.

With five minutes to go the Volunteer Park side had a great chance to seal matters but Nathan Murray couldn’t hold on to a difficult pass when he looked certain to score. The clock then moved into injury time as Scott Peffers kicked a penalty goal. The Quins had one last chance and desperately chased the game from the kick off but were penalised in their own 22. The easy penalty which would have denied the Quins a bonus point was hooked wide as the final whistle blew.