Reds at Haddington (Feb 23)

Reds overcome Haddington in hard fought encounter

Haddington 3 – 23 Linlithgow Reds

Saturday 18 February 2023

Match report by David Mitchell

A much changed Reds team travelled to Haddington on a dreich February day for an East 1 League fixture at Neilson Park which has not really been a happy hunting ground for them in past seasons. Also in the corresponding fixture at Linlithgow in October, the 24-16 score line suggested that another close match was on the cards last Saturday. The match saw the 100th 1st XV appearance for Mark Caddle and Ross Plenderleith, both excellent examples of committed and skilful players for the Reds over a number of seasons. Also there were 2 new 1st XV call ups for Oscar Davies and Archie Rusack, a fine achievement at such a young age.

Mark Caddle was making his 100th appearance for the Reds…
…as was Ross Plenderleith

After a sticky start in the first 20 minutes, the Reds began to gain the upper hand in terms of territory and possession but still found it difficult to penetrate the home defence. The early exchanges saw the home side have territorial advantage and they also managed to disrupt the Reds’ lineout to keep the visitors penned in their own half. Eventually the home side opened the scoring with a penalty kick for a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.

At this stage, it was difficult to feel confident about an away victory as the Reds began to pound the opposition defence without really looking like breaking through. During this phase, Jamie Tulloch left the field with a shoulder injury and was replaced by the evergreen Stuart Cunningham and then Adam Scott was yellow carded and took an extended half time rest. The sizeable away support were becoming increasingly uneasy about the Reds lack of points but just before half time Aidan Rennison kicked a penalty and then with the last move of the first half the visitors crossed for a try. Ross Tulloch made good ground down the left wing and after good supporting thrusts by Kieran Cochrane, Neil Lockhart and Fraser Mochrie, the ball was moved along the back line where Freddie Adcock ran an excellent line to check the defence and then timed a nice pass to Ruaridh Stewart and he sent Ross Tulloch diving over in the corner to give the Reds a slender halftime lead. Half time 3-8.

Try time!

The second half saw early domination by the Reds and they were awarded a penalty that was converted by Aidan Rennison. This was quickly followed by a fine try after the home scrum half cleared the ball to half way where Ross Plenderleith fielded the ball safely and passed to full back Ross Tulloch who made ground towards the Haddington line. The ball was quickly transferred back to Plenderleith who burst through the centre of the defence and rounded the final defender to score wide out. The conversion was missed but the Reds continued to attack in numbers and this resulted in another try after great setting up work by Stuart Cunningham who showed a cool head when slowing the play down before a ruck released the ball and Cammy Murrie set his backs running. Centre Freddie Adcock showed great decision making by taking the tackle from his opposite number and releasing Ruaridh Stewart with a Finn Russell style back of the hand pass and he transferred the ball to Ross Tulloch who sent winger Lewis Herdman in for a spectacular try. Aidan Rennison added the touchline conversion to give the Reds an unassailable 20 point lead.

Lewis Herdman in action

The slight disappointment was that the Reds could not secure the Bonus Point 4th try although during the 1st half we would have taken a 4 point win when we were 0-3 and not looking like scoring. The last 20 minutes were played out in midfield or near Linlithgow’s line as Haddington threw everything at the visitors but the defence held firm. The 2 new boys did  get a brief run out in the last 5 minutes and they will surely be part of the 1st team squad in the future. Final score 3-23.

The Reds centres had some powerful runs and showed good balance – here Freddie Adcock makes a break…
…and Ruaridh Stewart shows his poise.

Another good win at a difficult place to come away with the victory and with another strong defensive performance in midfield and on the goal line. Haddington thwarted many of the Reds attempts to break their defence and held out for a long time before the back three of Tulloch, Herdman and Plenderleith delivered the tries. The forward packs were fairly evenly matched with Linlithgow just about edging the forward battle which was commendable with 4 changes in the regular pack.

The game was punctuated with a large number of penalties but few yellow cards which was surprising as Haddington were penalised 21 times during the game. The Reds could have won more easily if they had used the elements to play a more tactical and territorial game in the Haddington half and also if several players had offloaded the ball instead of dying with it and being penalised. 

Next weekend the Club is in France so there are no games for the senior XVs. 

Linlithgow Reds

Ross Tulloch; Ross Plenderleith, Freddie Adcock, Ruaridh Stewart, Lewis Herdman; Cammy Murrie (c), Aidan Rennison; Calum McKeown, Kyle Ormond, Adam Scott; Fraser Mochrie, Neil Lockhart; Kieran Cochrane, Jamie Tulloch and Mark Caddle.

Stuart Cunningham, Oscar  Davies and Archie Rusack (all used)