HAWICK LINDEN 13 points, DUNS 32 points.
Duns travelled to Hawick last saturday to play the Linden in the RBS Border Shield competition, and recorded a bonus point win after an entertaining match by 32 points to 13.
Neither side had played for some weeks through a combination of Christmas and New Year holidays and adverse weather, and so there was undoubtedly going to be some rustiness to get rid of. However, both sides showed a refreshing willingness to run the ball whenever possible, despite the breezy conditions and slippery surface, and the win sets Duns up nicely for their home fixture against Berwick this saturday.
Linden kicked off, and although Duns gathered the ball safely they made very heavy weather of gaining any significant ground down the park. They were eventually penalised by referee Andrew Edgar from St Boswells - who had a very good game - and Linden kicked the shot at goal to go 3 - nil up.
Within five minutes Duns had taken the lead through a try created on the training ground. The visitors had a lineout on the left, just on half way. Good ball off the top from Stewart Cockburn was quickly fed along the backs, where Dale Robertson had entered the line from full back. His run was only diversionary, however, and as the Linden defence was drawn towards him David Hutchison popped up at pace from his position on the left wing and he ran 30 metres for an excellent team score.
Linden regained the lead midway through the half with a try and conversion after some sloppy tackling from Duns had allowed the home side's stand off to go over from 22 metres out.
A penalty from Keiran Wilkinson narrowed the deficit, before Duns regained the lead with 10 minutes of the half remaining. A series of pick and drives by the Duns pack saw them get closer and closer to the Linden line, and it was Andrew Connor who eventually crashed over from very close range for his second try in successive matches. Keiran Wilkinson slotted an easy conversion.
Shortly before half time Dale Robertson was yellow carded as the referee's patience finally snapped due to Duns persistently killing the ball at the ruck, and he 'took one for the team'. Linden were unable to take advantage of their one man advantage during this period, nor were they able to capitalise when Duns were once again left short-handed after the break when Chris Williamson was made to sit on the naughty step for 10 minutes.
Linden were forced to make a change shortly after the start of the second half when their Number 8 - their best player on the day - had to leave the field after receiving an almighty bang to the head. He was assisted from the field by two medics, resembling Bambi on a particularly slippery pond, but thankfully he seemed to make a full recovery.
Duns gradually exerted their authority on proceedings, and in the closing stages of the match they added 17 unanswered points. The first of these came from captain Duncan Budge, who rounded off an excellent performance by being on hand to take advantage of an overlap on the left to cross for try number three. The conversion from Keiran Wilkinson was successful, as was a penalty from the same player two minutes later which put the result beyond doubt.
The bonus point try was scored on the stroke of full time, when again Linden were left short handed on their right side. A big overlap, and a long pass from the centre, gave left wing David Hutchison a clear run to the line and he touched down for his 100th First XV try - quite a feat at the tender age of 22. The only names now ahead of him on the all-time list are Colin Aitchison on 105 and Jock White on 136. Keiran Wilkinson's conversion from a narrow angle heralded the final whistle, and a job very well done by Duns.
This saturday it's back to league action with a home match against basement side Berwick, who have already defeated Duns twice this season. Spectators should note that due to ongoing drainage problems at the Hardens, the match will be played at the new Berwickshire High School, kicking off at 2 pm.
The Duns team at Hawick Linden was :- Dale Robertson; Andrew Baxter, Ross Turner, Scott Lindsay and David Hutchison; Keiran Wilkinson and Neil Graham; Scott McCraw, Cammy Hill, Andrew Connor, Duncan Budge ( captain ), Stewart Cockburn, Chris Blaikie, Richard Burns and Chris Williamson. The replacements were Scott Turnbull, John Walker and Noel Hooke.