BT West Regional League Division 3
Loch Lomond 7
Wigtownshire travelled to Bonhill, West Dunbartonshire on Saturday to play a re-arranged fixture against Loch Lomond.
Their hosts are presently rooted to the bottom of the league table, having been promoted from Division 4 last season.
Previous encounters between the two clubs have proved bruising affairs and with the home team already earning a bit of a reputation for some rough stuff this season, consequently a tough match was anticipated. With the weather putting paid to most of the lower league club rugby on Saturday, the Loch Lomond pitch was in surprisingly good condition, the overnight frost had just about thawed when the match started.
Early on a number of scrums showed the sides were evenly matched in that department. But having made the ground the ‘Shire made for the line, Isaac Porter linked with his stand-off, David Lawson to break forward. A chip and chase put the home line in danger, Loch Lomond carried over to foil the ‘Shire attack.
A scrum on the five metre line for the visitors should have produced to score but a strike against the head allowed the home side to clear their line. Wigtownshire then let themselves down with a number of penalties, boring at the scrum, not rolling away at the tackle, collapsing the maul.
This not only earned Captain Keith McNeil a talking to from young referee Alex Ward but brought the home team onto the ‘Shire try line. Once more Wigtownshire weathered the storm. Loch Lomond were convinced they could score a try. They spurned kickable penalties positions for line out opportunities on the line.
The ‘Shire fought back holding them out, eventually the home side elected to kick at goal. The attempted dropped under the bar and the visitors run the ball up the field. Once again the chip and chase put Loch Lomond in all sorts of difficulties.
With nearly half an hour played Porter took his chance to crash over and open the scoring. Jason McKie added the conversion. A second try came one minute later. Munro McConnell caught the ball at the restart, carried it forwarded, off-loading to Porter when tackled. Porter set off on one of his now trade mark runs. When he was stopped, full back McKie was on hand to take the pass and go over for a try. He then added the extra two points. The home team came back determined to make amends. The visitors put up the shutters and held them out. As the half came to a close,
The second half started with a bang, Porter chased up and grabbed the ball, only to lose it in a tussle. Loch Lomond could not get any advantage from the possession as the ‘Shire players force them back as they tried to recycle the ball. This marauding play proved successful and the ball came back to the ‘Shire.
The ball was shipped through the hand right across the backs, unfortunately the touch line came before the try line. Loch Lomond cleared from the line out, only to be under the cosh once more from a chip and chase. ‘Shire debutant winger Andrew Copeland, flattened his opposite number just as he collected the ball. Good rucking gave Wigtownshire the ball and Ross McCreadie capitalised going in for a score. McKie added the conversion.
Now with try bonus point on offer the visitors wanted to make the most of the chance. Their zeal was matched only by their penalty count. Mr. Ward decided enough was enough, and McNeil was in the sin bin for a ten minute break. With this chance Loch Lomond did not need to be asked twice. They made the most of the extra man; bring pressure to bear on the ‘Shire line. This resulted in a push over try under the posts.
However the comeback was short lived as Rory Dewar added another try and McKie stepped up and converted the most difficult kick of the day.
This was great win for Wigtownshire. To take a try bonus point away from home, with only 15 players, no replacements, is a major achievement.
If they can build on this performance, it will stand them in good stead for the future. As the club now looks forward to the festive local derby games, more than ever the players need to keep training.
Team: J McKie, A Copeland, A Henry, J McIntosh, R McCreadie, D Lawson, C Reid; D Watson, B Graham, M McConnell, G Dunlop, K McNeil (Capt), G Keith, R Dewar, I Porter. Replacements: None