Dunbar 25, Hawick Linden 35
A Graham Colville hat-trick of touch downs, and tries from Matthew Mallin and Kris Rowley – together with eight points from the boot of Kieran Murphy – maintained Linden’s winning ways in a tough assignment at Dunbar.
Playing into the breeze in this Tennent’s East Region League 2 match, the Royal Blues got off to the worst possible start, dropping the kick-off to surrender possession and field position.
It didn’t take long for Dunbar to take advantage as they created an overlap on the right and raced over at the corner, with the conversion majestically put over from the touchline.
When the Linden then put the kick-off straight into touch, it was beginning to look like one of those days.
They then did well to repost home pressure by holding up Dunbar when over the line, before eventually relieving the danger.
They got themselves into the game on nine minutes with a lovely try. Craig Glendinning ran back a kick and then Colville went on the charge, linked with Lewis Stormont, who passed back inside to the supporting Mallin, who finished off. Murphy converted to tie the score.
Alas, it was the last action for Stormont, who was injured in the tackle when getting his pass away and replaced by Macaulay Parker.
Dunbar retook the lead with a well-struck penalty goal. The Linden then went back in front on 22 minutes when they opted for a scrum at a penalty. Colville picked, went on the blind side and travelled all the way to the line.
The home team immediately edged back ahead 13-12 when the Linden were penalised at the kick-off and the award sailed between the sticks.
Murphy replied in kind from in front of the posts after 31 minutes and, with no further scoring, the visitors were delighted to be ahead again at the break 15-13, with the elements in their
favour for the second period.
Things didn’t go to plan, though, and three consecutive penalties against the Linden ended with the Hallhill side going wide and their full back crossed at the corner.
The Royal Blue forwards then did the spadework before good hands found Jack Wilson, who fed out to Parker, and the flanker gave the scoring pass to Kris Rowley. The match was now tied at 20-20 after 47 minutes.
The Linden then looked sure to score, following a line out steal, as Colville and Liam Sharkey combined to send Shane Donnelly charging to the line. But, as he was tackled, the prop lost control of the ball.
The game started to turn towards the Linden as their scrummage gained the edge and became a more than useful attacking weapon.
When awarded a penalty five metres out, the visitors opted for a scrum and drove their opponents back for Colville to touch down.
They couldn’t consolidate the lead, as Dunbar attacked from the kick off, and some poor tackling ended with Dunbar’s outside centre scoring out wide to square the match once more at 25-25. Murphy then raced out to charge down the conversion.
Two minutes later, he was in action at the other end, landing a penalty goal to squeeze the Royal Blues ahead.
From this point, the Linden scrum came into its own but, somehow, the dominance couldn’t be turned into points.
It took until injury time until Colville picked from the base and had the power to twist in the tackle to complete his hat-trick and 24th try of the season. Murphy’s kick completed the scoring and a great game of rugby, which had ebbed and flowed either way.
It was a fantastic victory for the Linden, as Hallhill is never an easy place to win and, indeed, was Dunbar’s first home defeat of the season.
Now sitting on 17 wins from 17 games, the Royal Blues have one remaining game against Corstorphine at the Volunteer on March 16, as they home in on completing their league campaign with a 100 per cent record.
Hawick Linden: K. Rowley, C. Glendinning, M. Mallin, G. Anderson, K. Murphy, R. Graham, E. Wood; J. White, P. Drysdale, S. Donnelly, E. Hair, J. Wilson, L. Sharkey, L. Stormont, G. Colville; Subs: M. Boyle, S. Spalding, S. Hair, A. Hume, M. Parker, S. Walker.