Shield tie is stern test for Dalkeith

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With a break in league action, Dalkeith welcomed Preston Lodge RFC to King’s Park in the first fixture of the Edinburgh Shield.

PL are one of the East One pace setters, so this was always likely to be a testing game for the home team. PL began well, going through the phases, and after Dalkeith were penalised twice, the visitors went blind from a ruck in the home 22 to score in the corner after just two minutes, 0-5.

Dalkeith were struggling to gain any possession at this point as PL dominated, and after Dalkeith spilled the ball, PL recovered and great inter-passing between several players flat-footed the Dalkeith defence to see the visitors score again under the posts, 0-12.

The first 15 mins was all PL, and Dalkeith were required to defend hard to stop the game being over as a contest early. However, once things calmed down, the Dalkeith scrum began to really dominate, slowing down PL possession and importantly allowing Dalkeith some attacking opportunities.

The Dalkeith pack started to dominate at the breakdown, and after three phases and a PL penalty, the home side were challenging in the PL 22. From the line-out, Smith hit the line at a great angle and ran in under the posts for the score. – 7-12 with Clugston’s conversion.

Dalkeith now appeared to have the confidence that they could compete, and the pack were continuing to dominate.

With PL struggling to get out of their 22, another 5m line-out looked like a further opportunity to maul to the line, but the ball was knocked on and PL cleared their lines.

PL then made good ground into the Dalkeith half before wasting possession with a chip ahead, which Reid recovered and took upfield, with three hand offs creating space for his support.

However, Dalkeith knocked on in the PL 22 and the attack faltered, PL cleared as half-time beckoned.

After dominating the final 25 mins, the home crowd were hopeful of a similar second half from Dalkeith, but PL were fastest out of the blocks.

They immediately pressed in the Dalkeith 22, and a penalty alloweds PL to go for the 5m line out, but a knock-on allowed Dalkeith an easy clearance.

The home pack continued its dominance, and a steal against the head allowed Dalkeith to clear further upfield, but PL came back at them with some dynamic interplay between backs and forwards keeping the Dalkeith defence on the back foot. For a hectic five minutes, the home defence performed bravely to repel continued PL attacks on the line. The pressure finally told though when quick hands drew in the Dalkeith winger, allowing a run-in to the corner for his opposite number, and PL extended their lead to 7-17.

Dalkeith were then down to 14 men after Hamilton was yellow- carded for blocking on a kick ahead, but despite this, it was the home team who came back at PL. The East Lothian side were then forced to defend for a sustained spell as Dalkeith tried to get back into the match.

However, PL held out and a knock on allowed them to clear their lines.

An innocuous Dalkeith scrum in midfield then led to another score, as the ball spilled into PL hands, allowing an easy run into the corner, 7-22.

This score was particularly harsh, as the ball did not look to have been in the scrum as per the laws, but the score stood.

Dalkeith challenged the restart and when PL failed to control a loose ball, Davidson picked up and has a great drive into the PL 22, before offloading to Steven Hamilton who dived over for the try near the posts, putting Dalkeith back in it at 22-14.

Dalkeith’s pack continued to dominate, but the PL backs were looking very dangerous when possession came their way, so in a close contest it was no surprise when PL decided to kick a penalty and make things safer at 14-25.

As the clock ran down, Dalkeith kept contesting, but the players were clearly tiring, and by now perhaps realising that PL’s 11-point lead would be difficult to claw back.

PL seized the opportunity to add two further scores in the last five minutes to perhaps put a bit of a gloss on the final score, in a match that Dalkeith dominated for long spells without managing to up the scoreboard and this proved crucial.

Dalkeith’s next play on November 24 against Edinburgh University.