Dalkeith welcomed Earlston RFC to Kings Park on league business, with the home side hopeful of maintaining their positive start to the season, which sees them still sit atop East League 2, with a game in hand.
The home side started well, forcing Earlston into an early penalty, so Clugston opted to make ground and set up the line-out.
Then a neat chip from Clugston soon had the visitors defence scrambling back and forced into the hurried clearance on their 22. Dalkeith again secured possession, before Smith had a mazy run through the defence and Earlston were penalised for hands in the ruck. Clugston went for goal, but the kick sailed wide.
Earlston were caught offside at the restart and this helped Dalkeith put together a promising attacking spell from the resultant penalty line-out, only to be undone for holding on in the tackle and Earlston cleared their lines.
The home side continued to pressurise Earlston well though and a loose kick up field was taken back by Clark, who’s mazy run is only halted by a high tackle. Reid was on hand to rescue the loose ball and score in the corner. Clugston converted the tricky touch-line conversion to make things 7-0.
Earlston pressured the next restart and a silly penalty from the home side in their 22 immediately gave Earlston a chance to put points on the board, which they were happy to convert for 7-3.
After Earlston lost another scrum, Montgomery took the ball blind and dartd up the touch line, before chipping ahead and reaching the ball before the defence for the second try. Clugston missed the conversion from out wide, 12-3.
With the slope and a seemingly regular stream of possession coming in the second half the home side will have been hoping that they would add to the score and secure the league points fairly quickly.
However, it was Earlston who were quickest out of the blocks and Dalkeith were pinged for holding in the tackle again, allowing the visitors to make ground into the Dalkeith half from a penalty line out.
Two phases later Dalkeith stole the ball and Clark went on a great 50m run, which ultimately secured Dalkeith a scrum in the Earlston 22. Yet again the back division failed to click and knock ons and poor timing allowed Earlston to clear the danger and to remain very much in the match, if only they could secure some possession.
This time Reid and Ross combined to set up good field position, before Montgomery chipped ahead and chased the ball to the visitors 5m line, forcing a line out. The forwards mauled well, but couldn’t get over the line and Earlston again cleared the immediate danger.
Dalkeith drove once more into the Earlston 22 and forced the visitors into conceding four consecutive 5m scrums, but the forwards through bad luck and bad timing just couldn’t get over the try line. Earlston then cleared to their 22, but immediately gave away a scrum penalty and Clugston went for goal, this time successful, 15-3.
Another Dalkeith scrum steal set up further quality possession well within the visitors 22 and this time Clugston went alone. Scything through the defence and over near the posts for the third try.
He then blotted his copy book by missing the easy conversion, but Dalkeith looked more secure at 20-3.
Earlston were not out of it, though, and came back strongly at Dalkeith in the last 15 mins. The home side’s bad habit of chest high tackling was not helping their defensive efforts and Earlston were brushing off defenders on their drive to the line. Before the Dalkeith defence could organise themselves they were over for the try and back into the match at 20-10.
Another win which solidifies Dalkeiths’ position as East 2 league leaders, but with several testing away fixtures still on the cards, the team will have to sharpen up on the basics in order to retain their lofty position.
Next week it’s a visit to Edinburgh Northern RFC, with a 3pm KO.