Even calling in the army couldn’t help the Linden to victory against Langholm.
The Royal Blues’ Craig Mitchell had recruited colleagues Nathan Mather, Samisoni Rakabu and Josataki Wakolo, who were making their Linden debuts.
The two Fijians were straight into the action as lock Wakolo caught the kick-off and set off on a storming run deep into Langholm territory. And when the visitors turned over possession, scrum-half Rakabu put in a typically South Sea island big hit.
Not to be outdone, Mather got in on the act with the first try after 12 minutes. A lovely wide pass by Stuart Renwick put Stuart Williams into space and his hard running and offload to Mather saw the centre scamper over at the posts for Renwick to convert.
After the home team’s great start the Milntown men began to gain more of the ball and showed good control. Handling by the Royal Blues at a ruck allowed Niall Cubbon to stroke over a penalty goal.
Then a great break up the middle by Langholm captain Alasdair Cavers set up good field position and, following a period of sustained pressure, Cubbon sneaked through a gap to go under the sticks and add the conversion.
The Linden tried to respond immediately as another Williams run was then taken on by Wakolo. His long pass put Gary Wardle over the line but alas it had gone forward.
From a lineout, Wakolo’s one-handed offload saw Williams charging for the line and, when he was tackled, hands in the ruck gave Renwick a simple penalty to draw the scores level.
But a Cubbon penalty put the visitors ahead at the interval.
Mather had an early chance to tie the scores but his penalty kick just slipped past the post.
However, it didn’t take long for the Linden to score. Sean Potts was tackled just short of the line and Langholm’s Stuart Graham was binned for killing the ball. With a quick tap by Rakabu the supporting Shaun Fairbairn plunged over and once more the home team were ahead.
Midway through the half the men from the Muckle Toon re-took the lead with another Cubbon penalty.
Rakabu then showed his running skills when he called for a mark on his tryline which wasn’t given. He consequently took off on a sparkling run, linked with Wardle who also ran well and, when Langholm killed what would have been quick ball, they were perhaps fortunate not to receive another yellow card.
Some constant Langholm pressure on the Linden line saw the home defence running out of numbers and Graham squeezed over in the corner. And with time running out Cubbon kicked his fourth penalty to deny the Linden a losing bonus point and seal a 24 points to 15 victory for the visitors.
Match photographs in Friday’s paper