RBS BORDER REGIONAL SHIELD
IT was a severely understrength Linden squad which travelled to Milntown for their first-ever meeting with Langholm.
But despite fielding a side that was almost thrown together, they produced a great effort and were given a magnificent lead by stand-in skipper Sean Fairbairn.
Stuart Williams, Ryan Beattie and Robert Stitt made their first starts of the season in a team where only two players played in the same position in last week’s win over Dalkeith. Prop Keith Mabon was in the middle row and hooker Bradley Mercer turned out at flanker.
The unfamiliar line-up took time to settle and before they knew it the Linden were 14 points down after only seven minutes. Failure by the visitors to deal with a kick ahead by Langholm led to a very soft try for the home team which was quickly followed by a second after some close quarter drives. Both tries were converted.
It took ten minutes for the Royal Blues to wake up and, when they did, they produced a superb length-of-the-field try. Fairbairn covered excellently, showing composure to work away from his own line and link with Stuart Renwick. Fairbairn carried on for a second time and from the ruck in the Linden half, scrum-half Sean Goodfellow took off and had the pace to go the distance and Renwick converted.
Four minutes later the scores were level. Williams charged down a Langholm kick and the Linden recycled ruck ball. Renwick’s grubber kick ricocheted kindly for Greg Bouglas to kick on and dive over, with Renwick converting.
But a dropped ball when Langholm were driving a lineout was missed and the Linden were harshly penalised which allowed the home team to gain good field position and their wing forward went over in the corner.
The visitors responded when Renwick landed a sweetly struck penalty but suffered a blow when Mercer was stretchered off with a serious ankle injury. This forced a re-shuffle with centre Greg Bouglas moving into the forwards. With no further scoring the Linden could be relatively happy at only being two points behind at the break.
The second period was a tougher affair as Royal Blue possession dried up and the Langholm forwards played with control. Three tries were scored by the home team, two converted.
And with the game deep into injury time, the ball popped out of a Linden scrum on halfway and Langholm pounced to collect and run in for a try with the last play of the game.