Linlithgow rugby got off to a good start this season with a bonus-point win against Duns in the new RBS East Regional League 1.
The Reds have faced the Borders club on occasion over the years and still smart from the memory of a last game defeat 20 years ago that saw Duns top the league consigning the Reds to third place.
Linlithgow fielded a strong side, still not quite at full strength, knowing that there will be no easy wins in this league.
Both sides started with plenty of running, the visitors demonstrating that they deserved their promoted place.
Flanker Ross Martin slotted two penalties before the quarter-hour and, when the Duns No 8 was given a spell in the cooler, Ross added a third after 25 minutes.
This was followed by a bit of play not seen for a while at Mains Park with the ball going through seven or eight pairs of hands from the halfway line across the pitch to reach lock Stuart Bell near the right wing.
With about 20 yards to go the big man simply bulldozed his way through to touch down for the first try this season.
Duns had a very useful weapon in their arsenal in their stand-off, Wilkinson, who started to pepper the Reds with some very accurate kicking to touch.
He slotted a 45-yard penalty then was on hand when, in injury time, a quick line-out throw-in over the jumpers caught the Reds napping and the Borderer’s scrum-half, Lamb, darted back, collected the ball and set Wilkinson an easy trot to the line, adding the tricky conversion.
Wilkinson added to his personal score with a second penalty after 10 minutes and this definitely got the Reds going with the pack really turning on the pressure.
With stand-off John Chapman increasingly finding touch, skipper Billy Edment claimed two touchdowns in 10 minutes from the bottom of two rolling mauls.
Young Alistair Wood had his best game in a Reds shirt (and picked up man-of-the-match) working hard on the ground and showing remarkable agility when hoisted high into the air by his lifters, winning line-out ball with ease.
Duns reacted to the take-and-drive by bringing down the maul and the ref had little choice but to start dishing out yellow cards.
Despite being down to 13 men Wilkinson managed to add another long range penalty but this time the Reds came back with a vengeance.
After a series of penalties on the Duns line, Chapman was handed the ball five yards out, near the right hand touchline.
Instead of taking the expected kick to touch, he spun round and sent a kick across the posts aiming for centre Graham McKenzie.
It went too far, bounced, was gathered by sub winger Ty Watson, who jinked past three defenders to score the bonus point try with Ross Martin slotting the conversion.
The Reds didn’t record a bonus win last season and this was a welcome return to winning ways.
The lads are fitter, the forwards are really backing each other up and the backs are showing a massive improvement on last year.
Even with a five pointer Linlithgow ended up only fifth in the new 10-club league with all the clubs above also scoring bonus points but with greater points differences.
This Saturday Linlithgow visit North Berwick who went down to the highly rated Preston Lodge (ko3pm).
At the time of going to press Linlithgow Rugby is set on fielding two teams at home this Saturday with the 2nd XV meeting Watsonians and the 3rd XV facing Dunbar 2nds.
Linlithgow’s 2nd XV went through to Raeburn Place where they took 22 points off a classy Edinburgh Accies side.
Unfortunately Accies took over 50 points off the Reds.