LInlithgow Rugby Club tie with Royal High after stirring fightback

Ross Plenderleith on the charge after intercepting the ball at the Linlithgow 22. (pic: Graham Black)
Ross Plenderleith on the charge after intercepting the ball at the Linlithgow 22. (pic: Graham Black)

Linlithgow had to settle for a share of the spoils from Saturday’s East League 1 encounter with Royal High at Mains Park.

At 21-6 down in the first half the Reds would have bitten your hand off for the eventual 24-24 draw - but as the game progressed, the only likely winner was the home team and the crowd left thinking the win had escaped them.

The Reds kicked off but within three minutes found themselves seven points down after the visitors made a fast start to the game, resulting in a try near the posts after a sustained period of pressure.

The next 10 minutes followed the same pattern, but the home side eventually got into the game and when they drew a penalty on halfway Jack Frame delighted the crowd by launching a soaring kick between the posts.

He followed this with a similar effort from about 50 metres and somehow the Reds were only one point behind.

Royal High then lost a couple of players to injury but the team continued to move the ball well in attack and they scored another close range try which was converted well.

Starved of possession, the home team were finding it difficult to break into Royal High territory and the visitors extended their lead when quick thinking from a tapped penalty led a third converted try to make the score 21-6 just before half-time.

But fortunately the Reds gained another foothold just before the break. Frame received the ball on halfway, swerved inside the first defender, shaped to kick ahead but instead rounded the full-back and outpaced the remaining defenders to score near the posts, coverting his own try to make the half-time score 21-13.

Linlithgow started the second half facing a steady breeze but knowing they needed to score first to have any real chance.

After a period of Royal High attacking play, Ross Plenderleith intercepted a pass and ran fully 80 metres to score a fine try which went unconverted; however the home side were now within striking distance and beginning to gain the upper hand in the scrum in particular.

A Frame penalty levelled the scores but the visitors also kicked a penalty in reply to regain the lead.

By now the Reds were really dominant in the forward exchanges and in the back line, both Ross Tulloch and Mark Green were making strong runs in the midfield and punching holes in the visitors’ defence.

However the final offload or pass failed to reach the supporting players and the only score in the final period was another Frame penalty to tie the scores.

Despite being camped in the Royal High half for the last 10 minutes, the winning score failed to materialise.

The clubs meet again in the Edinburgh Shield at Barnton in two weeks’ time and another close game is anticipated. Next week the Reds visit Haddington in what should be another keenly fought encounter.