HADDINGTON 3rd XV 24 points, DUNS 2nd XV 60 points.
Duns Seconds finally returned to league action at the weekend with a trip to Haddington in RBS Reserve League East 3B.
An outsider arriving at Haddington would have gained an extremely rosy impression of the state of club rugby in Scotland, with no fewer than three matches taking place - Haddington played Peebles on the main pitch, while their Seconds played Edinburgh Accies and their Thirds hosted Duns on the school pitches. The true state of club rugby is sadly much different, with cancellations and postponements being the order of the day. Many clubs struggle - or fail completely - to raise a Second XV, with Duns' previous two league fixtures both being postponed because of a lack of numbers in the opposition ranks.
Haddington had given an early indication that they would not have a full side, but to their credit they were determined to soldier on with whatever numbers they could muster. Duns, normally awash with players for the Seconds, were also short-handed due to work commitments and other reasons, but both teams were keen to play and so the match went ahead with rather less than the normal 30 players on the field.
Duns played for the first time this season in their new strip, very kindly sponsored by John Thorburn and Sons and Aitken-Walker Cars. The strip has red and black hoops on the front but is completely red on the back, a point overlooked entirely by Haddington who turned up in their plain red strip. An absolute nightmare for the referee in the low, late autumn sunshine as there were occasions on which it was impossible to tell the players apart.
Duns loaned Mattie Taylor and Ben Foreman to Haddington in the first half and it was the former, playing at scrum half, who gave Haddington the lead after only a couple of minutes. Tom Swan reduced the deficit with the first Duns try almost immediately, and then Dane Ivison - playing at the unaccustomed position of centre - put Duns ahead with try number two.
Another try for the home side, converted from in front of the posts, gave Haddington the lead at 14 - 10, but from then on it was all Duns. Dane Ivison scored his second midway through the half, and the same player bagged his hat-trick shortly before half time. He had been offered an honourable mention in the match report if he could score three times in the game, but getting them all before half time, and then converting his third try, was just showing off ! Duns lead by 22 - 14 at the break.
Playing up the slope in the second half, and into the glare of the setting sun, Duns wasted no time in adding to their try count. Scott Turnbull was first to score, and then Duncan Brown went over for try number six with Dane Ivison converting. Haddington pulled a try back almost straight away, but as the legs in their squad tired the spaces appeared and Duns were able to score freely.
The visitors added four more tries in the closing 10 minutes, with two from Euan Reed being book-ended by two from Tom Swan who became the second Duns player to score a hat-trick in the game. Craig Renton converted one, Euan Reed converted another and Ben Foreman - restored to Duns colours at half time in place of John Warren - drop kicked the final conversion.
Haddington had the final say, and scored their fourth try at the death which was no less than they deserved for their determination to make the game go ahead.
Although Duns have had four matches postponed this season due to opposition call-offs, they have managed to score more than 350 points in the 7 games they have played, at an average of more than 50 points per game. Their next match is at Dunbar Seconds in the league this saturday - kick off is at 2 pm.
The Duns squad was :- John Warren, Daniel Wright, Johnnie Thorburn ( captain ), Scott Turnbull, Nathan Chisholm, Stewart Calder, Euan Reed, Craig Renton, Tom Swan, Dane Ivison, Duncan Brown, Mattie Taylor and Ben Foreman.