Young Linlithgow team lose out in semi-final

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Young Linlithgow lose in sem


Under 18 Brewin Dolphin Trophy semi-final

Having won through their quarter final back in early December, it was with great anticipation that the Linlithgow Academy 1st XV welcomed Carrick Academy to Mains Park on Thursday for their Brewin Dolphin Under 18 Plate semi-final match.

Unfortunately, despite valiant efforts, anticipation was not enough and it was the visitors who deservedly won a hard fought match and progressed to the final.

If the young Reds were in any doubt as to how tough a game this would be, in the first two minutes Carrick scored a try with their first play of the game. This was unconverted. Linlithgow quickly woke up, and led from the front by captain Matt McKenna, gradually gained territorial and possession advantage. However, some poor decision-making meant they were unable to convert their pressure into points. Eventually though, after 20 minutes the pressure finally told when Stuart Mitchell dived over near the posts after excellent forward driving play. Gary Ballantyne converted and Linlithgow were in the lead 7-5.

Although the home forwards now had the ascendancy, with the tenacious Josh Hares at the centre of most things, they were unable to convert this into points and a solitary penalty, again from the boot of Gary Ballantyne, was all they could produce. The Carrick players defended as if their lives depended on it and were duly rewarded, preventing another Linlithgow try, despite the home team being held up over the line on several occasions.

Having withstood the pressure, Carrick turned the tables and for 10 minutes pressurised the Linlithgow line. Something had to give and when the Carrick no.8, who plays hooker for Scotland Under 18s, picked a superb angle when joining the back line, he was able to swat off several would-be tacklers and score under the posts. The conversion meant the visitors were ahead 12-10 right on the stroke of half time.

The second half followed the same pattern as the first, with Linlithgow having much of the territory and pressure but the superb Carrick defence prevented them from scoring. The Carrick players looked like they just wanted it that little bit more and whilst their forwards fought a superb rear-guard action, their backs seemed to have more of a cutting edge than their Linlithgow counterparts. With five minutes to go, the visitors pressured the young Reds’ line and did what the Reds had been unable to do and scored an excellent try in the corner. The final score was 17-10 to Carrick.

This was a tremendous match, between two sides who gave it their all. It was a great advert for schoolboy rugby and it was a pity one team had to lose. However, the hungrier team just edged it and the Linlithgow lads wish Carrick good luck in the final.

There will be many of the Linlithgow team who will think back on decisions they made and would do it differently on another day. However this small squad of players can be very proud of their cup run – in particular victories over Bell Baxter and away in Inverness.

Linlithgow team: Gary Ballantyne, Kieran Faulds, Jack Frame, Fraser Mochrie, Daniel Walkinshaw, Josh Ewing, Andrew Wood, Ellis Styles, Josh Hares, Michael Robertson, Innes Downie, Matt McKenna (C), Jake Triton, Stuart Mitchell, Cameron Dori-Muir. Replacements: Lewis Herdman, Nick Kenyon, Nic Igoe and Arran Poole.