Last Saturday Linlithgow Rugby’s 1st XV went out on Mains Park for their penultimate game this season against Garnock.
The two sides have enjoyed some real tussles over the years and due to the SRU’s reorganisation plans are not likely to meet again in the foreseeable future.
The Garnock fans came in large numbers from deepest Ayrshire to support a team that has, like Linlithgow, struggled this season.
Boths sides have faced similar predicaments: having to field youngsters scarcely ready for the level, losing players through injury and work commitments and losing some games that should have been won.
Linlithgow were missing a few regulars including the influential, and vastly experienced Charlie Gillanders.
Both sides started at breakneck speed with Garnock winning more ball but the Red defence held firm.
Stand-off John Chapman, who is improving every game, was able to control a lot of the play and put in some telling kicks, although the Reds could not secure good ball from the ensuing line-outs.
The Reds’ backs passed well without the unfortunate spillages that have dominated the season and looked quite dangerous but the Garnock lads held out until centre Les Richardson nailed a try after 10 minutes, Ross Martin adding the conversion.
Garnock came back strongly but again they could not get over the line.
In a move down the right side winger Tye Watson fought his way to within five yards and wriggled through tackles to ground the ball right in the corner but the referee, unsighted, pulled him back, awarding a penalty in front of the posts.
Chapman took a pass and chipped across the front of the posts straight into the arms of winger Ross Plenderleith who simply side-stepped his tackler to score in the opposite corner, the conversion drifting wide.
Back came Garnock and this time their young flanker Harry Wallace, broke from the front of a line-out, went down the wing and crossed the line unopposed, the ref awarding a try in the corner.
The second half was less appealing to both sets of spectators and the ref came in for some justified criticism with lectures and yellow cards going to both teams.
Martin added a penalty, Garnock’s skipper, Rory Walker, narrowing the gap to 15 – 8 and both sides fought it out in the middle of the park until Martin sealed the game with a penalty, off the upright, just before the whistle.
This win takes the Reds off second-bottom place with one game to finish the league, against Kilmarnock, at Mains Park in two weeks.
Linlithgow’s 3rd XV have a home game scheduled against Ross High this coming Saturday at 3pm.