A thoroughly engrossing friendly at Volunteer Park resulted in a 19-5 win for the home side.
This was not a typical error-strewn pre-season affair as both sides played some entertaining rugby – and it was the visitors who dominated field position and territory for the first 15 minutes until a strike against the head allowed Graham Colville to surge on. The latter linked with Steven Bouglas and Keith Mabon to take the Linden into the Annan half.
The visitors soon worked their way back upfield but were unable to unlock the home defence and resorted to a penalty kick at goal which was missed.
The Royal Blues then hit Annan with a sucker punch to take the lead. Ryan Hamilton fielding a clearing kick before feeding Craig Russell who made an excellent break. He then linked with Stuart Renwick who sold a lovely dummy before sending Graham Colville in for the touchdown. After another period of pressure, Annan finally managed to suck in the Linden defence and went over in the corner just before half time.
Linden started the second period much better and with more pace, and nearly took the lead when great interplay from their own half involving Steven Bouglas feeding Connor Grace whose over-the-top pass put Greg Thomson into space. Ryan Hamilton, who was up in support, was then hauled down just short of the line for what would have been a cracking try.
They almost scored another beauty when once more they ran from their own half and Bouglas almost went in at the corner only for the the ball to be cynically killed to deny the Linden. Not for long, though, the tap penalty saw some surges at the line before the impressive Sean Fairbairn went over, Russell converting.
Neat work at the front of the lineout between Fairbairn and Bradley Mercer led to Blair Irving taking a short ball, bursting through several tackles and staying on his feet to score. Russell converted from out wide. Annan almost had the final word but the referee couldn’t see what looked like a try.
This was an excellent performance from the Linden with all the youngsters fitting in well. Hamilton performed admirably at both scrum-half and stand-off, Gracie ran well and Mercer and Fairbairn put in big shifts up front. Chris Telfer and Gary Wardle were everywhere in the back row.