Linlithgow lose out to rivals Livingston in opening day derby

Ross Plenderleith on his way to scoring Linlithgow's try at Livingston.
Ross Plenderleith on his way to scoring Linlithgow's try at Livingston.

Linlithgow were unable to spoil the party as Livingston celebrated the start of their 50th season with a derby win over The Reds.

Livingston had specifically requested a home start to their East Division 1 campaign against their old rivals to mark their special day and many former Dark Blues and Reds were there.

The Reds got off to a great start and took a 6-0 lead through two penalties from John Strachan after excellent work at the turnover, firstly by Joe McKillion following up the initial kick-off and secondly, by Ross Plenderleith chasing a long kick ahead a few minutes later.

Gradually the home team began to exert some sustained pressure and were eventually rewarded with a penalty to bring the score back to 6-3.

The big Livi pack were putting pressure on the Reds scrum and, together with good lineout ball, claimed a large slice of the possession and territory for the rest of the half and well into the third quarter.

The Reds defended well and their tackling was much improved on the previous week; however when they did get their hands on the ball, the Livi defence was up fast to stifle any move and to pressure the ball carriers.

That Livingston only scored two tries in that time of possession dominance was a testimony to the Reds’ committed defence.

Midway through the second half, the Reds were penalised after valiant defence near their own line and Livingston kicked a penalty to extend their lead to 21-6.

The writing looked to be on the wall for the Reds as from a scrum close to the Reds line, the stand-off put in a crossfield kick to his unmarked winger.

However, the player was unable to gather the ball and Plenderleith, covering across on his own line, claimed the loose ball and took off up the wing, outpacing the home defence to go the length of the field for a try which pulled the score back to 21-11.

This spurred the Reds into greater action and they came close to scoring again on a couple of occasions.

But a couple of wrong options, some loose passing and a determined defence kept the Reds at bay though and at the close the home team claimed their third try through their right winger from short range to leave the final score at 26-11.

The end result was fair, as Livingston were the stronger side over the whole match and their win was celebrated by the big home support.

However, the Reds should take heart from their overall performance - they left 18 points out on the field, including a disallowed try, which could have sneaked them the game on another day.

Next weekend, the Reds have a bye week, a product of an 11 team league, before they welcome Hawick Harlequins to Mains Park on September 15 for what will be “former players day” aka “a pie, a pint and a programme”.

The 2s and the 3s both have scheduled home matches on Saturday, kick offs at 3pm.