Edinburgh Northern 20, Hawick Linden 29
On a Saturday in the capital that ranged from sunshine to showers, there was also a Hawick Linden performance of extremes from fumbling to fantastic.
Early Linden mistakes surrendered field position in this BT East League Division 2 meeting and Edinburgh Northern demonstrated the strength of their lineout catch and drive which led to captain Callum Miller plunging over after eight minutes.
Linden stand-off Kris Rowley responded with a penalty goal which was followed by two quickfire tries. Firstly, after a long period of possession, scrum half Rory Graham burst through a gap at a ruck to touch down for Rowley to convert.
Three minutes later, following some great running rugby from their own half, Graham Colville offloaded to Matthew Mallin for the wing forward to touch down. Rowley’s conversion stretched the Linden lead to 17-5 after 18 minutes.
Just before the half-hour, home stand-off Andrew Spiller slotted a penalty goal. The Royal Blues then ran from deep in their own half and Daniel Elliot made the crucial break. This time, it was John Frew who was rewarded for his support play. The full-back’s try was converted by Rowley and the Linden went into the break 24-8 ahead.
The second period couldn’t have started any better for the visitors. From virtually their own try line, they again showed enterprise to touch down at the other end, with Daniel Elliot once more displaying his pace to apply the finishing touch and secure the try bonus point.
At 29-8 in front, and the pace of the Linden play stretching the big home pack, it looked set for the Royal Blues to kick on to a convincing victory.
However, the home team had other ideas and, from another lineout drive, winger Michael Mawdsley came on a short ball to touch down and Spiller converted.
The game then degenerated into a succession of errors from both teams, which meant there was little continuity. The Linden were guilty of trying to go wide too quickly without playing through any phases with their pack.
With seven minutes remaining, Northern centre Robbie Brown sliced through the Linden defence. The kickable conversion slid past the post, to the relief of the visitors. Had it gone over, it would have reduced the deficit to just seven points.
There was no further scoring and the Linden were delighted to secure a bonus point victory and retain fourth place in the table.
It was a case of ‘job done’ from a Linden perspective but disappointment that errors and poor decision-making meant they failed to take the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half.
Their willingness to play with ambition helped show off the pace of the back division – none more so than Daniel Elliot, who picked up the man-of- the-match award.
Props Shane Donnelly and Simon Spalding put in a power of work and Ryan Ali was an ever-willing ball carrier.
Hawick Linden: J. Frew, K. Murphy, D. Elliot, J. Rowley, M. Bell, K. Rowley, R. Graham, S. Donnelly, P. Drysdale, S. Spalding, C. Smith, E. Hair, R. Ali, M. Mallin, G. Colville. Subs: J. White, M. Parker, G. Cunningham, W Barker, G Stirling, B. Sutherland.