Linden falter after promising start

Hawick Linden 10, Linlithgow 31

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 11:02 am
Liam Sharkey grounds the ball to score the first try of the match for Hawick Linden (picture by Bill McBurnie)

It was a case of a game of two halves in Tennent’s East Region One, as the Linden failed to get the losing monkey off their

backs following an impressive first period.

It was a different match after the turn around and what had, at one point, looked a likely home win disappeared into the distance.

With Kris Rowley delayed in traffic, the home side were forced into a late reshuffle as flankerLewis Stormont started on the wing, with Morgan Tait moving into stand-off.

The youngster did well and made a nice early break as he switched to the blind side to open up some space.

The Royal Blues should have gone ahead with a straightforward penalty but, with Rowley not on the field, the kick slipped past the uprights. Another kickable penalty on 15 minutes was consequently sent to the touchline.

From the lineout, there was neat interplay to send Stuart Hair peeling round the front. When play came back open, Hair was back on hand to help

shunt Liam Sharkey over the line to put the Linden 5-0 ahead.

John Frew then had a fantastic run, burning his man on the outside, followed by some sup erbinter-passing which ended with Ryan Toogood tackled just short of the line to deny whatwould have been a thrilling try.

A second touchdown eventually came on 29 minutes. After a lineout, Matthew Mallin seared through a gap on half way and had the pace to go on the

outside and all the way to the corner. The difficult conversion was missed.

Sharkey caught the kick off and set off on a storming run to put the Linden on the front foot, allowing Tait to chip on the run, and the stand-off collected his own kick. Play went all the way to the Linlithgow 22 but ended with a dropped pass.

Having dominated possession and territory, 10 points was a meagre return for the Royal Blues and the worry was whether theyw ould be made to pay for failing to capitalise further on the scoreboard.

That concern came to fruition as the first period came to an end.

On 36 minutes, the visitors made their first real foray of note into the Linden half when some great pace up the stand side looked likely to create a try until Mallin’s tackle saved the day.

The reprieve was brief, however. When awarded a penalty in the shadow of the posts, the Mains Park side opted for a scrum and they were rewarded when play was spread wide and their winger sped in at the corner.

Turning just 10-5 to the good was a disappointing outcome for the Royal Blues.

After the changeover it was a completely different game. Encouraged by their score, Linlithgow upped the ante and began to dominate proceedings as the Linden fell off the pace.

The Reds left winger touched down for the second time on 47 minutes and scrum-half Struan McLean’s conversion secured a lead they were never to lose.

Behind for the first time, the home team saw little of the ball and, when they did, it was often in their own half and were guilty of playing too much rugby instead of clearing their lines.

When they did finally kick, it was poor one and full-back Cammie Murray took advantage as he ran back to score, with McLean converting.

The game was stopped when Linlithgow’s wing forward suffered a nasty-looking injury, requiring an ambulance to be called for the third Linden game in a row at the Volunteer.

Play restarted with a scrum which the Reds walked on, leading to the bonus point try and, again, McLean added the extras.

It was all Linlithgow and a Frew tackle prevented another try, which did then come from Kieran Cochrane. McLean’s kick completed the scoring and a miserable end result for the home side, when their first-half efforts had promised so much more.

Hawick Linden: J. Frew, L. Stormont, C. Glendinning, M. Mallin, G. Scott, M. Tait, E. Wood; R. Toogood, M. Boyle, S. Spalding, S. Hair, J. Wilson, E. Hair, D. Swailes, L. Sharkey; Subs: J. White, P. Drysdale, K. Rowley, K. Scott.