Reds Impressive in Countering Strong Opposition and Windy Conditions
Linlithgow Reds 36 – 14 Leith Rugby
Saturday 14th January 2023
Report by David Mitchell
The Reds hosted Leith Rugby in their first home East 1 League fixture in 2023 and the crowd were treated to an entertaining game played in testing conditions including a strong westerly breeze. The inclusion of Euan Mochrie and David Martin in the starting line up were the only changes to the team that won at Portobello last week.
The home team played with the strong wind behind them in the 1st half and Jack Frame made good use of it to pin Leith deep in their own half. Early scrum pressure led to a series of 5 yard scrummages from which the Reds failed to score despite a very high penalty count against the visitors which might have resulted in a penalty try being awarded, but the referee seemed content to dish out a stream of penalties. Eventually, after another strong scrum, Euan Mochrie barged over to the right of the posts for the opening try and Jack Frame added the extra points.
The home side continued to dominate territory and possession but were frustrated by some stuffy defence from Leith. The 7-0 lead looked pretty thin as half time approached and the score line did not reflect the dominance by the Reds. Thankfully they managed to conjure up a couple of late tries to give them a better cushion to take into the 2nd half.
After a thrust by Cammy Walker who had come into the line between the centres, Jack Frame almost made it to the try line but was stopped just short. As he did last week, Cammy Murrie seized the ball and dived in between the defenders to score a fine poacher’s try.
Just before half time, following a long kick into the Leith 22 by Frame, Mike Doneghan’s good chase forced a poor kick from Leith and Cammy Walker got the ball about 40 metres out and he weaved past 2 or 3 defenders but was stopped about 10 metres short of the try line. Mark Caddle was on hand to continue the move and he scored at the posts and Jack Frame added the conversion. This gave the home side a comfortable lead of 19-0 at half time.
The second half saw an early try from Leith. After a scrappy lineout, the ball was moved into midfield where their dangerous left winger ran a great line and his pace took him on a diagonal run to score a fine individual try which was converted. The Reds responded almost immediately when, after a rushed kick out of defence by Leith, David Martin fielded the ball and made good ground up the right wing where he shipped the ball to Ross Tulloch and he found Mike Doneghan just outside the Leith 22 and he ran strongly to brush aside a few tacklers and score a fine try between the posts. Frame added the 2 points to make the score 26-7 with 20 minutes of the game left to play.
All credit to Leith who continued to attack and they were rewarded with a 2nd try after a well judged cross kick was touched down to give the left wing a brace of tries on the day. The conversion was successful, going in off the far post. The home side made regular changes during the 2nd half and Stuart Cunningham and Kieran Cochrane were followed on late in the game by Adam Scott and Gregor McLean. The next score was a penalty kick by Jack Frame to make the score 29-14 entering the last 10 minutes.
The Reds largely controlled the remaining minutes with some direct carrying and straight running in particular from Neil Lockhart, Ross Martin and Stuart Cunningham. This pushed Leith back into their own 22 metre area and in the final minute, as the visitors attempted to run out of defence, Linlithgow scored their final try. Gregor McLean chopped down the big winger in midfield and Mike Doneghan was first to react to secure the ball and after a patient passage of play, Kieran Cochrane burst through the remnants of the Leith defence to dive over for a well deserved try. Gregor McLean converted the try with the last action of the game.
Final score: Linlithgow Reds 36 – 14 Leith Rugby
Another competent performance and a bonus point win to keep the Reds in 2nd place in the league. Next week the Reds are on the road to Duns with a 2pm kick off in the Borders.
What was pleasing compared with the Portobello performance was the reduced penalty count against the Reds and the improved tactical kicking. In addition, the decision to run the ball against the wind resulted in the Reds keeping control of the ball for long periods of the 2nd half. The back division’s passing was more accurate than last week with very few wild passes being thrown.
The pack again produced a strong showing and dominated the scrums particularly in the 1st half. Additionally, the front row of Andrew Graham, Kyle Ormond and Colin Devlin all made good ground with the ball in hand with the first named punching holes in the Leith defence on many occasions. The line-outs were secure with both Neil Lockhart and Mark Caddle taking some excellent ball from Kyle Ormond’s throwing in. The back row pounded away at the Leith defence with Jamie Tulloch, Euan Mochrie and Mark Caddle all showing up prominently throughout the game. It was also good to see Kieran Cochrane building on his performance against Portobello with another aggressive showing and his confidence must he high after deservedly scoring the final try of the game.
The back 3 of David Martin, Cammy Walker and Ross Tulloch had to be patient during the game but all eventually got decent runs and were involved in the tries.
The half back pairing are settling into a decent partnership as the season goes on and both centres were solid in defence with Aidan Rennison’s tackling being a consistently strong feature of his play.
The T S Veitch man-of-the-match award went to Andrew ‘Slim’ Graham. The youngster continues to impress both in the tight and in the loose, where he is learning to make a significant impact!
Linlithgow (1 to 15)
Andrew Graham, Kyle Ormond, Colin Devlin; Neil Lockhart, Ross Martin; Euan Mochrie(c), Jamie Tulloch and Mark Caddle; Cammy Murrie, Jack Frame; Cammy Walker, Aidan Rennison, Mike Doneghan, David Martin; Ross Tulloch.
Replacements: Stuart Cunningham, Adam Scott, Kieran Cochrane and Gregor McLean