Rusty Reds eventually gain bonus point win at Portobello
Portobello 5 – 29 Linlithgow
Saturday 7th January 2023
Match report by David Mitchell
The Reds kicked off 2023 with an East League 1 fixture against Portobello at Cavalry Park. The home team are always an awkward team to play against but after recent good form by the Reds, the healthy away support was looking for a good win.
Conditions were better than expected after some heavy rain put the game in doubt earlier in the week. The pitch was soft in paces but perfectly playable. Bright sunshine greeted the teams at the start and there was a stiff breeze blowing up the Cavalry Park slope.
The Reds were largely unchanged from their recent games but with the bonus of a welcome return by Mike Doneghan in the centre after a long absence. Jack Frame got proceedings under way and within the first few minutes the visitors struck with a fine try. Frame sent left wing Ross Plenderleith through a gap in the Porty defence and he made good ground before linking with his support and Aidan Rennison forced his way over the line for a try which was converted by Jack Frame.
Frame then added a penalty as the Reds continued to dominate the ball. The lineout work was excellent as Kyle Ormond regularly found his main targets Mark Caddle and Neil Lockhart. The Reds’ scrum started where it left off in recent weeks by destroying the Portobello scrum and winning the vast majority of the scrums. The front row of Andrew Graham, Kyle Ormond and Colin Devlin were in total command and ably supported by the other 5 in the scrum, provided a regular supply of good ball. Following one such scrum near the goal line, Mark Caddle was held up short but the Reds were patient and eventually Mike Doneghan used his trademark excellent footwork to find a gap and plunge over for a try that went unconverted. At this stage the Reds had scored 15 points in the first 15 minutes and the visiting support was anticipating a big score.
However the visitors then became much more disjointed in their play and allowed Porty to get some territory in the Reds’ 22 metre area. This resulted in an unconverted try by the home side to make the score 15-5 halfway through the 1st half. The Reds did continue to produce a stream of good possession but it was obvious that the 5 week layoff had a negative effect on the Reds’ passing with too many balls not going to hand and some generally laboured distribution.
The 2nd half started in a similar vein and neither team scored during the middle 50 minutes of the game in what was a frustrating experience for players and spectators alike. Red replacements were made with Kieran Cochrane and David Martin replacing Ross Martin and Cammy Walker.
During this phase of the game an unfortunate incident took place when after a bust up among a few players it looked like a Linlithgow spectator went on to the field. There may be repercussions depending on what the referee includes in his match report. Whatever the outcome it is never acceptable to abuse the match officials and unfortunately there were other incidents where both touch judges were berated by players and spectators. This is unacceptable behaviour and I sincerely hope that the clubs make that clear to their players and spectators in the future.
Eventually the Reds sharpened up their game and scored 2 fine tries to seal the victory. Fraser Mochrie took a good catch at the tail of a lineout and drove towards the Porty line where Kieran Cochrane took over and almost scored. However Cammy Murrie spotted a gap in the home defence and scuttled over fine an opportunist try. Jack Frame added the extra points to give the visitors some breathing space.
The final try came as Porty tried to run the ball out of defence looking for a consolation score. Mike Doneghan intercepted a pass and fed Neil Lockhart who galloped over for the bonus point try. The extra points were added. Late replacements were introduced with Stuart Cunningham and Adam Scott getting a run out.
Final score: Portobello 5 Linlithgow Reds 29
Overall a patchy performance especially in the back line but still resulting in a Bonus Point win for scoring 4 tries. Although a rusty performance across much of the 80 minutes, it was still a pleasing win with so much more to come in the next few weeks.
Next Saturday, the Reds host Leith at 2pm in another East League 1 fixture. A good crowd is expected as the Reds aim to build on their recent series of wins.
Andrew Graham, Kyle Ormond, Colin Devlin; Fraser Mochrie, Neil Lockhart; Ross Martin, Jamie Tulloch and Mark Caddle; Cammy Murrie, Jack Frame (c); Ross Plenderleith, Aidan Rennison, Mike Doneghan, Cammy Walker; Ross Tulloch.
Replacements: Stuart Cunningham, Adam Scott, Kieran Cochrane and David Martin