Gala YM 13 Hawick Linden 34
The Linden travelled to Netherdale to take on Gala YM in a double header in BT East League 2 as well as the Borders Shield and came away with full League points and a place in the semi-final away to Berwick on January 7.
The visitors got off to a dream start, taking the lead on four minutes. Following a lineout, stand-off Glen Welsh drilled a kick into the home 22 which carried over the try line.
The situation looked to be covered by the home full-back, who was caught out by the pace of John Frew, who won the race to touch down.
The Linden struggled to get structure to their game and gave away too many penalties, two of which were struck between the uprights by Lyle Campbell to put Gala YM 6-5 ahead after 13 minutes.
From a well-worked line-out peel involving Stuart Hair and Pete Drysdale, Euan Hair seemed to have scored in the corner before the ball squirted away but the try was disallowed. These things can even themselves out, though, and shortly after, from a quick tap penalty by Kieran Murphy, the forwards surged to the line before Graeme Anderson went over in spite of what looked a clear knock-on.
With both teams regularly incurring the wrath of the referee, it was Gala YM who received the first yellow card. Down to seven forwards, the Linden squeezed and turned the home scrum, allowing Graeme Colville to pick and put scrum-half Euan Wood in under the posts, with Murphy’s conversion stretching the lead to 17-6 at the break.
The second period began like the first with an early Linden score. Colville made excellent yardage from his own half and linked with Murphy, who went on a weaving run before touching down and converting his own try.
The home team went back down to 14 when the experienced Tom Weir was binned for taking Jordan White out illegally at a ruck.
From a Linden scrum, the ball was worked to the blind side and Frew was able to force his way over the try line.
The YM had a period of pressure but the Royal Blues defence held firm and a James Hogg breakout relieved the danger.
At the other end a good drive by the visitors forwards sucked in the cover which enable Colville to exploit the unguarded blind side for a try which put the Linden 34-6 up in 62 minutes.
With quite a few old heads in the home pack, the expectancy was for the more youthful Linden side to kick on to a bigger score.
However, it was the YM who began to dominate possession and the Linden penalty count rose costing skipper Graeme Anderson 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
After the YM knocked-on over the line, centre Duncan Miller finally dotted down after a fine break with Campbell’s conversion proving the final score of the game.
This was not a vintage performance from the Linden in a game that had too many mistakes and too much whistle all resulting in little flow and a lot of frustration.
Reece Hartdegen enjoyed his start at prop as did Gary Alexander on the wing. Hartdegen, Drysdale and Keith Mabon in the front row did well at scrum time against some wily old campaigners at the YM coalface.
Euan Wood celebrated his first touchdown for the club and John Frew capped an excellent performance with two tries.
Linden: J Frew, G Alexander, G Anderson, S Walker, K Murphy, G Welsh, E Wood; K Mabon, P Drysdale, R Hartdegan, S Hair, E Hair, M Parker, M Mallin, G Colville; Subs: J White, C Tofts, J Hogg, S Grant, R Graham, B Sutherland, M Bell.