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First weekend of Conference fixtures sees wins for all Linlithgow teams in action

The opening weekend of Conference fixtures saw wins for Linlithgow across all age groups. Congratulations to all the teams and coaches involved.

Weekend results 

Linlithgow U18 50 – 17 Musselburgh

Linlithgow U16 52 – 12 Preston Lodge

George Watson 7 – 33 Linlithgow S3(U15) 

George Watson 33 – 36 Linlithgow S1(U13) 

Match reports and photos below:

Linlithgow U18 50 – 17 Musselburgh

Match report –

Linlithgow U16 52 – 12 Preston Lodge

In conditions more suited to the middle of the summer, than the beginning of the autumn, the Reds U16 squad had their opening conference fixture on Saturday as they hosted Preston Lodge at Lower Mains Park. 

After a strong opening through the pack, working well through the structure they had been working on all week, PL were finally able to clear their lines. However, the kick fell to Ali B, who launched a successful counter-attack down the wing to open the scoring. Rory was successful with the conversion. 

After kicking a penalty to touch, the pack showed the other skills they had been working on by creating a maul from a 5m line out, Lewis held the ball at the back of the maul which worked its way over the line for the second try. No conversion. Almost directly from the kick off, the reds broke form their own 22. A few neat interchanges between Finn and Aiden allowed Finn to score a further try, which was converted.

The line out success continued, where after stealing a line out, the ball was passed out along the line allowing Will to touch down, which was again converted.

We were all then entertained by the Harley show for a few minutes. No report would be complete without mentioning his 50 yard run, including an outrageous dummy. Whilst this did not result in a try, he did follow it up with a try from short rage shortly afterwards. The show continued when Harley got a second after Lewis forced a turnover on the PL line.

This brought a half-time score of 40 – 0. This was a dominant half of rugby from the reds. Although not perfect – coaches will find fault in everything, this was an impressive display where the boys played to the structure we had been working on to great effect. I am not sure Preston Lodge got out of their half!

The second half brought a raft of replacements and the structure went out of the game a bit. After losing a line out, Linlithgow quickly forced a turnover which allowed Rory to score.

Preston Lodge then finally found a had a period of possession and pressure. They managed to claw back 2 tries in a scrapy second half. The heat was taking its toll on both teams, however, Linlithgow did conclude the scoring when Braden got the last try of the game.

The final score of 52-12 was no more then the Reds deserved for their first half performance. The second half showed there is still a lot of areas to work on and improve, for both the players and the coaches. Speed to the breakdown, retaining structure later in the game and the influence and impact of the bench are all issues we shall be looking to improve on.

George Watson 7 – 33 Linlithgow S3(U15) 

If anyone thought today’s game was some kind of precursor to a bigger game this weekend, they were wrong.  This was as hard-fought and competitive as any game we are going to see between two tier 1 nations over the next few weeks.  The weather also played its part and was reminiscent of the French riviera in midsummer – let alone this time of year.

A couple of days before kick off we experienced what can only be described as a front row crisis and we went from our usual “glut” of props to just one, so we sought reinforcements from the year above.  It was great to have Tom, Alex and Ektor join us – as they will be forced to next year – as they are young enough to be playing in our age group. 

Thomas kicked us off and we immediately put pressure on George Watsons (GW).  Although they had possession we kept them pinned back in their own half.  The turn over came and we gladly took the game to them.  Angus C took the ball up, off loaded to Ewan who broke one, maybe two tackes, and was in under the posts.  Thomas converted – so high above the posts that none of us were quite sure whether it had gone over.  The ref was satisfied and we took the points.

At this point GW really came back into the game.  They moved the ball from one wing to the other, making us chase hard on a hot day.  It wasn’t long before our defence started to lose its shape.  We held out with some strong tackling from Duncan, FInally M and Jay in particular.  Had GW out some depth into their play and come at us at pace it might have been a slightly different story.

However we weren’t to be outdone and Ewan took a quick tap penalty and broke through for his second try.  Thomas put height on the ball again to take the two extra points.

GW came back at us again and we started to lose some of our players to injury.  This was a reflection of the heat, hard ground and how tough they were up front.  Finlay Mac received a particularly painful dead leg and was sidelined for the rest of the game.  Elliot also felt a pain in his achilles and felt it better not to risk further injury.

GW also picked up their intensity and the boys were on the end of an increasing number of crash balls, particularly as they brought their blind side wingers into the game more and more.  Our midfield held out well.  However the intensity dipped a little as GW’s picked up and we found it difficult to deal with their counter rucking and the pressure they put on us after the tackle.

The next try was still ours though.  Ewan picked up off the back of a scrum and headed for space in the corner.  He had the option of Joe or Hugh outside him, and in the end fed Joe who dived to score.

No surprise, GW came right back at us.  Again they crashed it up and forced us to deal with their hard runners.  Eventually our discipline went and a couple of penalties allowed them to make their way up the pitch and eventually score from close range.  The conversion followed.

The half time break gave us a chance to get a drink and regroup.  We talked about the need to pick up our intensity and impose ourselves on the game.

However again we came under huge pressure at the start of the second half and managed to lose another Finlay to a rib injury this time.  Our indiscipline also led to a number of penalties against us for off-side and high tackles.  However we continued to hold out which was a credit to our backline with Max also providing the first line of defence and harrying from scrum half.

During one GW attack the ball was split and Duncan pounced.   He had plenty to do but turned on the gas and scorched the left touchline before crashing over the line to score with Jay in support.

This gave us the lift that we needed and we sensed that if we continued to apply pressure – whether we had the ball or not – the game was ours.  Scott was immense, putting in 2 or 3, or maybe more, exocet-tackles which fired the opposition player into touch and effectively gave us turn overs.  It was great to see the boy take inspiration from this.

The next and final try went to Greg.  He had an immense game in the loose and put himself about the place all afternoon.  He took the ball in the 22 and powered over with no doubt in his mind that the GW defence would hold him out. 

In some ways the score line flattered us, not because we played badly, but more because GW were a decent outfit.  The difference seemed to be our ability to take our chances.  If the GW backline had clicked and we had not found a way to pick up our intensity when it mattered then it could have been a very different story.  Even as a spectator it was hard to tell which team was in the lead and which team would score next.

There were lessons in here for our forwards as we needed to be quicker to react to the rucks to both secure our ball and also to put pressure on theirs. We seemed to be a bit too polite here which goes against the usual private school stereotypes.

Our backs saw the importance of a strong tackle and being able to quickly get back into shape after the first wave of attack.  They were at times a little too reliant for Angus C, Ektor (from our back row) to fill in the gaps.

But let’s give credit where it is due.  It was a great team performance.  Other than what has been said already, a few mentions: it was good to see Hugh and Angus T make a couple of breaks on the wings.  Fraser also proved himself the architypal utulity back, covering full-back, wing and outside centre.   Chris, Tom (S4), Alex (S4), Alexander put in a shift in the loose with Greg our stand out player amongst the forwards.  Morgan also found himself making tackles and running with ball in hand as he eases himself back into playing.  Ewan, Angus and Ektor (S4) were a tough outfit to play against in the back row as they tackled relentlessly.

Player of the match this week has to go to Thomas.  He took over from Rory at fly half, who was away this week, and really took control of the game.  With the ball in hand he posed a threat every time, taking the ball to the line and also giving Duncan and Finlay some space to play with.  He also made his tackles and turnovers when it was asked of him.

George Watson 33 – 36 Linlithgow S1(U13) 

Linlithgow S1 traveled to Myreside for their first competitive conference league match as Seniors.

We had 15 players available for the match, Watson’s fielding 12 players after a gum shield went missing.

An early start, thankfully Linlithgow woke up during the warm up and started the match strongly.

The Linlithgow forwards were excellent with ball in hand and worked hard to move the target and retain possession. Our backline benefitted from regular quick ball and took the opportunity to test the Watsons defence on the attack, creating (and finishing) a number of excellent opportunities … great to see the team organise themselves and pull each other around the pitch. Our S1s had the measure of the Myreside outfit in the first half and finished the first 25 minutes strongly and with an impressive try count.

In the second half we took the opportunity swap in replacements and again we started strongly. Watson’s reduced to 11 players following an injury, and the subsequent reshuffle of the Linlithgow team changed the tempo of the game for the middle section of the second half. Our players worked hard with ball in hand, however lost shape in defence and leaked a couple of late tries. However, Linlithgow persevered and after more than one scramble tackle on the wing ensured we edged out a first win on the road.


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