Leith 33, Hawick Linden 46
A highly competitive encounter at Academy Park ended with Hawick Linden returning from Leith with all five points to stay ahead of the chasing pack at the top of East League 2.
They scored seven tries in a match where momentum swung either way, with the home team scoring five tries of their own to ensure both sets of supporters were fully entertained.
After a respectful minute’s silence for Leith legend Bob Green, the home team was first to gain territorial advantage but a mixture of excellent Linden defence and Leith errors prevented any scoring.
The Royal Blues then worked their way to the other end to gain a period with good field position but, similarly, were met with a stout defence and mistakes of their own, and no points were forthcoming.
For a match that ultimately produced 79 points, it took fully 29 minutes for the first ones to arrive.
Skipper Rory Graham put in a box kick after a turnover on half way and a kind bounce sat up perfectly for stand-off John Coutts to gather and run in, with Kris Rowley converting.
Three minutes later, with Leith on the attack, Kieran Murphy intercepted on his own 22 and went the distance to go under the posts. Rowley again converted.
Just before the break, Linden produced a great team try. Matthew Mallin won line out ball and a great drive by the pack marched the Royal Blues into the home 22.
When the ball was released to the backs, some good hands ended, with Rowley giving the scoring pass for Murphy to go over for his second try and the Linden went into the break on a high at 19-0 ahead.
Leith were not for lying down and, after a spell of pressure, stand-off Kenny Dannfald went over on 46 minutes and converted the score himself. Four minutes later and a break by Sean Crombie led to Dannfald stretching out for his second touchdown.
His conversion made it 19-14 and, with the Linden rocking from the quick on-two, it was game on.
Two minutes later, though, a Linden kick was knocked on by the Leith full-back and, once again, the bounce favoured the visitors and Liam Sharkey capitalised as he romped in for the bonus point try, to which Rowley added the extras.
There was no shaking off the home team as, once again, they hit back.
A searing break following a line out found ex-Edinburgh pro Crombie up in support and the hooker plunged over. With 20 minutes remaining, the Linden were 26-19 in front and the game was in the balance.
In the 65th minute, a cracking try put them more than a score ahead.
James Rowley charged up the blind side and fed Graham Colville, who thundered on. When the number eight was tackled, Rowley was still in support to apply the finishing touch.
Two minutes later, another Graham box kick caused mayhem, with the ball bouncing up for Colville, who put Jack Wilson away. The big middle row had the pace to run in for Kris Rowley to add the extras.
At 38-19, the Linden could breathe more easily and probably thought the game was surely won.
They should have known better, though, as scrum-half David Somerville came on a great short ball to score Leith’s fourth touchdown and ensure his side at least a try bonus point.
Royal Blue nerves were then eased as a dump tackle saw Leith’s Paul Haggon sent to the naughty step and Kris Rowley slotted the resultant penalty goal, to stretch the lead to 41-26.
The Teries were to add one more try as debutant Morgan Tait showed his pace before he linked with Craig Glendinning. When the winger was tackled, Matthew Mallin, who had switched from the pack to centre, was on hand to run in.
Leith were to have the final say as replacement Michele Crolla went over and Dannfald drop-kicked the final points of a fantastic game of
rugby, for which both teams deserved huge credit.
Hawick Linden: K. Rowley, C. Glendinning, D. Elliot, G. Anderson, K. Murphy, J. Coutts, R. Graham; J. White, P. Drysdale, S. Spalding, S. Hair, J. Wilson, L. Sharkey, M. Mallin, G. Colville. Replacements: M. Boyle, R. Linton, J. Rowley, L. Stormont, E. Wood, G. Scott, M. Tait.