Hawick Linden 53 Liberton 7
On a lovely sunny but cool afternoon at Wilton Lodge Park, the Linden took on bottom-of-the-table Liberton.
Although the visitors had lost all nine of their previous league matches, none had been by a big margin so the Royal Blues had to be wary to ensure they stretched their winning run to seven games.
Although they suffered an early scare the Linden romped away to a convincing 53-7 victory, racking up a half-century of points for the first time since clinching the East 2 title against Earlston back in April 2013.
The home team had a great start opening the scoring after only three minutes. From a lineout, the backs took ball on and, when recycled, Pete Drysdale was on hand to touch down with Kieran Murphy converting.
The visitors then hit straight back when poor Linden handling in their own 22 resulted in a loss of possession and Liberton capitalised when prop Paul Millar plunged over. Captain Darren Tiffney stroked over the conversion to tie the scores at 7-7.
The home team managed to retake the lead after James Hogg took ball on and Pete Drysdale gave a well-timed pass to Euan Hair, who charged on and cut inside to touch down.
After quarter of an hour the Linden lost an attacking line-out but, when Liberton tried to clear their lines, Hogg charged down and the ball fell kindly for Drysdale who simply had the simplest of touch downs for his second of the day. Murphy added the extras.
On the half-hour mark the Royal Blues secured the try bonus point with a well worked try.
From a lineout they hit up in midfield then came back blind and good hands saw Graham Colville on the end of the overlap to go over in the corner.
The Royal Blues looked like they would end the first period on a high. Knowing a penalty was coming their way, Gavin Stirling put a kick over the defence but the referee blew immediately and John Frew who was on the end of the kind bounce to touch down was left somewhat frustrated.
However, 24-7 ahead at the break the Linden could be happy with their first half efforts.
They stretched their lead early in the second period when Colville picked from the scrum and made good ground to release Murphy who raced over for the try. It took until the 60th minute for their next score but it was a cracker.
Liberton attacking ball was turned over and Matthew Mallin made good yardage before passing inside to Frew who had the pace to go the distance from inside his own half and Murphy’s conversion made the score 36-7.
Frew repeated the dose two minutes later as the Linden again attacked from their own half and Connor Tofts claimed the assist as he put his full-back away for another great try and Murphy converted once more.
On 65 minutes prop Jordan White came on a short ball and plunged over for his first try in a Linden jersey. Tofts secured the kick-off and following some good handling Mallin put replacement Cammy Friel in at the corner for a debut try.
Another satisfying win for the Linden against a stuffy Liberton side who belied their league position by defending well and with a weightier pack made life difficult for the home team to secure as much quick ruck ball as they would have liked.
Stuart Hair was in fine form up front well supported by brother Euan and the back row of James Hogg, Macaulay Parker and Graham Colville. Euan Wood sent out a good service with Sandy Walker and Graeme Anderson solid in the centre.
Linden: J Frew, M Bell, G Anderson, S Walker, K Murphy, G Welsh, E Wood; J White, P Drysdale, S Spalding, S Hair, E Hair, J Hogg, M Parker, G Colville; Subs: C Tofts, R Hartdegen, K Mabon, M Mallin, C Smith, C Friel, G Stirling.