Reds seconds are champions after stretching winning run

Linlithgow 2nds clinched the league title with victory over Peebles, sealed by Mayo Herdman's try (pic by Neil Dunlop)
Linlithgow 2nds clinched the league title with victory over Peebles, sealed by Mayo Herdman's try (pic by Neil Dunlop)

Linlithgow Rugby Club’s 2nd XV are champions with a game to spare following their 17th successive victory at Mains Park on Saturday.

The Reds 2s defeated fourth-placed Peebles 23-14 to maintain their 100 per cent record and put themselves out of reach of closest challengers Dunfermline.

The match was eagerly anticipated by all, but there was also caution as the away game at Peebles had been a tight affair.

In pre-match discussions with Gus McNab, the Reds captain, it was agreed that Linlithgow would play into the strong wind in the first half if they won the toss of the coin.

The rationale for this is that on a very windy day like Saturday, it encourages a tighter game of rugby, as passes generally go to hand better and kicking is more difficult, with forwards and backs having to work closely together.

And the theory seemed to be working in the early stages as Linlithgow struck first.

Scrum-half Peter Millar nipped through beside a loose ruck and scampered between the posts.

Kevin Wilson missed the conversion buit it was 5-0 to the Reds.

However from the kick-off Reds mishandling led to a scrum near their line and, with scrums uncontested due to the away side not having any props, the Peebles scrum-half strolled below the posts and converted his try to put the visitors 7-5 in front.

The Reds were now being over anxious and rushing some of their plays and were caught when a hack upfield and ruck in front of the home posts led to another converted try which made it 14-5.

The team was in danger of letting in more scores, but managed to move upfield and cut the gap when Wilson slotted a good penalty.

And just before half-time Kenny McKenzie used his guile and size to burst over from the middle of a ruck to score for the Reds. The try wasn’t converted but the Peebles lead was just 14-13 at the break.

Linlithgow had the win at their backs in the second half - Peebles rarely making it into their 22 after the break - and another penalty from Kevin Wilson gave them the lead at 16-14.

And the title was sealed when Mayo Herdman came off his wing before cutting through the centre and going in between the posts.

Jeff Martin converted to make the final score 23-14.

While the 2nds were clinching the championship, Linlithgow’s 1st XV went down 27-15 to Portobello in their BT East Division 1 fixture at Calvary Park on Saturday.

The visitors failed to cope with the strong winds, which howled down the Edinburgh pitch, against a more physical side who played the conditions better.

With a growing injury list, which was added to on Saturday, the Reds had drafted in youth from the high flying Reds 2s. Indeed the combined age of the starting front row was less than 60, with last season’s Callum Forbes and Matt Sommerville joining young veteran Calum McKeown.

The Reds lost flanker Andrew Archer to injury early in the match and he was soon joined on the sidelines by winger Ross Tulloch and scrum half Cammy Murrie.

Linlithgow’s scores came from fine tries by second row Neil Lockhart, who is a revelation this season, and captain Euan Mochrie. John Strachan kicked a conversion and a penalty to complete the scoring.

The Reds had plenty other chances, but silly errors resulted in turnovers with the home team going the length of the park on two occasions to score against the run of play.

The young Reds team has shown itself to be highly competitive against allcomers in this league, but needs to cut out silly errors and be patient.

There are no 1st or 2nd XV fixtures this week due to the Six Nations clash between Wales and Scotland.

However Linlithgow will be playing a friendly match in Wales before the big match.