Dalkeith welcomed Hawick Quins to Kings Park for the final league game of the season, hopeful for the victory that would confirm their second place in East League 1.
Coach Goodman picked from strength, with only Duke missing from the available squad.
Dalkeith started positively with the forwards winning quick ball and Clugston bringing the backs into play early. This earned the home side two quick penalties and from the second a powerful line out drive sucked in the defenders before Clugston released Walker who was bursting into line and after one hand off the centre made 20m before releasing the supporting Reid for the score under posts. 7-0 with Clugston’s conversion.
The young Quins side had barely touched the ball when Dalkeith scored again, the forwards took the ball on for a couple of phases before Reid broke blind, up what appeared to be a well-defended channel, but a couple of stiff hand offs left the defence in Reid’s wake and when his run was eventually halted, the defence was in tatters and Clugston took quick ball and sprinted in under the posts,14-0 with his own conversion.
Quins had yet to have a meaningful spell of possession as the Dalkeith forwards continued to monopolised the ball, allowing that man Reid more choice possession, and another burst up the middle which again got him behind the Quins defence, before the supporting Walker took the ball on another 20m then released Stephen Hamilton for the dancing run in past the covering defenders, 21-0.
After controlling the opening 20mins, Dalkeith then appeared to relax their intensity, allowing Quins to make use of their first meaningful spell of possession and forcing Dalkeith into giving up a midfield penalty on their 10m line. The quick tap was halted illegally and the referee then marched Dalkeith back well into their 22, allowing Quins to attack again and spin the ball wide for the score in the corner. 21-5.
This awoke from their slumbers and the forwards secured ball from the restart and after a couple of quick phases, Clugston again went in under the posts, before converting his own score, 28-5. Quins were now again struggling for possession and Simpson was the recipient of quick ball from the forwards going wide and the winger burst through the attempted tacklers and punched over for the try, 35-5.
Clugston had been pinning the defence on their heals all day with some fine touch finders and another pinned Quins into the corner and although their forward secured the line out, a rush defence from Dalkeith forced a wild clearance and Simpson secured possession before cutting inside the scrambling defence and then releasing Walker for the score. 42-5 at half time.
The second half began as the first had ended, with the Dalkeith pack exerting control on proceedings but Quins fighting hard in defence against waves of attack. Possession was shipped to replacement Smith, who found himself immediately under pressure from Quins defenders, so sprinted to the blindside and made good yards through several defenders before the supporting Clugston finished off the move. 47-5.
Quins came back at Dalkeith and had a concerted spell of pressure forcing Dalkeith to concede a penalty in their 22, Quins took the quick tap and despite no Dalkeith man touching the attacker, the official blew again for players not retreating allowing Quins to go again and score in the corner. 47-12.
Quins then attempted a long touch finder from another penalty, but the ball fell short, the ever industrious Simpson took the ball back at Quins and after being halted by the defence, released Hamilton, who fed the supporting Walker in space, who made 30m and was unlucky that the final scoring pass to Clugston was knocked on.
Dalkeith kept up the pressure though and the forwards punched into the Quins 22, forcing the visitors to give up several tackle penalties and when Hay takes matters into his own hands after another infringement, referee gives a yellow card to both sides.
Despite both dies being down a man for a good part of it, the final 15mins was a predominantly a messy affair with no real structure from wither side. Simpson had another impressive burst upfield outpacing and handing off defenders, only to be halted by a superb tackle from the home full-back and Quins cleared their lines.
Dalkeith finished the match camped in the Quins 22 and despite persistent infringements from the Quins men, the referee allowed matters to proceed, this converted pressure should have given burly lock Tait a try, only for the forward to knock on over the line. However, the last word was Dalkeith’s with McMillan pressuring the home no8 at scrum time and forcing the carry over and a 5m scrum to Dalkeith. The home side secured possession and a great line from Stephen Hamilton saw the full-back over for try. 52-12.
A bonus point home win, which secured a well-earned second place in the league for Dalkeith in the first season in East League 1. Congratulations are due to the whole team and especially to coaches Goodman and Graham.