Linlithgow 2nds 12, Selkirk Stormers 17


CASS PACKS A MEAN PONCHO... The rain and mud at Mains Park on Saturday held no fears for Stormers’ camouflaged coach Brian Cassidy. Also pictured on the touchline are Ewen Robbie and Benny Rafferty. [Photo: DONNY MACKENZIE]

SATURDAY’S wet and windy conditions may have put paid to numerous fixtures throughout the country, but with Linlithgow 2nds still in contention just behind Selkirk Stormers in RBS Reserve League East 2, both sides were keen for this top of the table clash to go ahead.
Both clubs had the opportunity to freshen up their squads as Linlithgow’s 1st XV match had been cancelled, as had Selkirk A's game at Meggetland. Linlithgow capitalised on this and bolstered their squad, but Stormers’ management team took the brave decision to stick with their regular Stormers players.
Linlithgow turned early pressure into points by running in a well worked try in the corner, which went unconverted.  With tempers running high the referee showed he was having no nonsense and yellow-carded the home hooker. This proved a turning point in the half, giving Stormers the chance to re-group.
The balance of the game duly shifted and Selkirk opted to run several penalties rather than kick for goal. One quick tap saw Stormers reach their opponents’ five-metre line where a deliberate obstruction on scrum-half Scott Tough resulted in a penalty try, converted by skipper Guy Blair. Halftime score: Linlithgow 2nds 5, Selkirk Stormers 7.
Midway through the second half some good handling by Guy Blair and Gary Lyall allowed full-back Ben Purves to run in an astonishing try, weaving his way to the line from halfway, ghosting past half a dozen defenders to touch down under the posts. Guy Blair converted and soon afterwards slotted a penalty to put the visitors 17-5 ahead.
With 10 minutes remaining, and conditions worsening, Linlithgow were awarded a penalty try for Selkirk’s repeated handling in the rucks during a spell camped inside Selkirk’s 22. This made for a nerve-wracking conclusion to a hard-fought contest, and at the final whistle there were shouts of jubilation from the Selkirk support and players for a tremendous win against a bigger, stronger team.
Centre Gary Lyall was named Stormers’ man of the match for having taken responsibility after skipper Guy Blair had sustained a groin injury (still managing to play the full 80 though!). Lyall marshalled the backline superbly and led by example, tackling non-stop in defence and leading  the charge in attack.
Other players who showed up well were the McClymont brothers, Scott and Willie, and the Turnbull brothers, Jamie and Callum. Neil Brown returned to the team following an injury and proved he had lost none of his skill or enthusiasm, while Douglas Swinbanks also made a welcome return after a lengthy absence.
STORMERS - B. Purves, K. Monks, G. Lyall, N. Brown, C. Sanders, G. Blair, S. Tough, J. Stephen, I. Walling, A. Hain, C. Fairbairn, J. Turnbull, W. McClymont, C. Grieve, R. Cook. Replacements: E. Robbie, C. Turnbull, S. McClymont, D. Swinbanks.