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YOUNG GUNS SHOT DOWN AGAIN

Borders 24 Edinburgh Rugby 10



20 February 2004

The Borders exacted a terrible revenge for their 53-7 reverse at Meadowbank earlier in the season with a comfortable 24 - 10 victory over Edinburgh Rugby tonight. A try count of three to one in favour of the men from Netherdale was no more than they deserved from the game. They have put some fine performances together in recent weeks, and are well-placed to take advantage of the international season to move up the league table.

Edinburgh have 11 players away with the national squad, as well as captain Todd Blackadder. With Under 21 calls also accounting for David Callam and Ali Strokosh, coaches Hadden and Edwards are not so much operating with one hand tied behind their backs; it's more like, well, something infinitely tougher than that. But they and their young charges know they just have to get on with it, and no-one could fault the youngsters for effort. They continue to improve, and the experience will stand them, and Edinburgh Rugby, in good stead in the future.

It was Borders centre Jono Stuart, returning from concussion, who did much of the damage this time. His first try, on ten minutes, followed severe Borders pressure from the kick off. The big centre almost carried Ali Warnock across the line from 15 yards, Morton's conversion giving the home side a 7-0 lead.

The Gunners' response was instant, with a super break from Burns almost seeing the veteran scrum half over, but his offload went to Borders' Dan Kane and the danger was cleared. Cruucially, the home team struck again shortly afterwards with a fine Nikki Walker break putting Stuart away for his second try shortly afterwards. Morton's conversion took the score to 14-0 and the Gunners were playing catch-up rugby.

An Allan Jacobsen try in injury time gave them hope, as the loosehead emerged from the wreckage of a maul to score his second try in two weeks, leaving the half-time score 14-7, and Edinburgh still in the hunt.

Morton's penalty stretched the home lead after the break, and when Jacobsen was carded for preventing the Borderers taking a quick tap penalty, alarm bells were ringing in the visiting ranks. But credit to the youngsters, they held out under pressure, and even clawed back three points with a Warnock penalty as Chunky returned to the fray.

But The Borders made sure of their victory with a try by Samona World Cup star Semo Sititi, the conversion again converted by the increasingly impressive Morton.

For the Gunners, the prospect of a similarly weakened Leinster team at home next week. When these two sides met earlier in the season - again with the big boys away on international duty - they produced a pulsating game, with a Laney penalty from the half-way line in injury time giving the Gunners the points. It is perhaps unfortunate that both of these games, between two of the top sides in the Celtic League, will have taken place without either team's star players. That can do the credibility of the competition little good.

It will be a tough game for the youngsters, but easy on the spectatorial wallet, with Edinburgh offering 2 for 1 deals for adult and concession admission, as well as the £1 offer for students.

Scorers: The Borders - Sititi 1T Stuart 2T Morton 3C 1P
Edinburgh - Jacobsen 1T, Warnock 1C, 1P

Edinburgh Rugby: Southwell; Sharman , Di Rollo, Dey, Joiner; Warnock, Burns (C); Jacobsen, Kelly, Smith, Pike , Kellock, Harrison , Fisher, Martyn ir). Subs: Hall, Brannigan, McIntosh, Capaldi, Lawson, Monro, Clapperton

The Borders: Morton Walker Stuart Utterson (C) Moir Vili Armstrong Dunlea Scott Cross MacLeod Stewart Rennick Kane Sititi Replacements: Landels Todd Weir Walker Fairley Laidlaw MacRae