The starting team showed eight changes from the previous week, a mix of ill-health and non-availability being cited as the reason for the enforced changes – of the three backs who retained their places, all were playing in a new position this week.
After weeks of frost there were doubts in the days leading up to Saturday given the heavy rainfall; all doubts were quickly forgotten when the players started their warm up routines on a good playing surface.
Derek Speirs was the match ball sponsor but was unable to attend – our thanks to DS Landscaping Ltd for their support.
After winning the toss Lomond/Helensburgh chose to receive the kick and were playing towards the changing rooms into a fairly significant headwind. From the kick-off Strathendrick pressed towards their opponent’s try line but all attempts were met by a resilient defence. The first significant event was after three minutes of play when, starting full back, James Cuthbertson was forced off with a back and leg injury and was replaced by Ben Anderson. The silver lining to that particular cloud was that the three minutes played were enough to count as start No.5 and James was awarded his 1stXV hoodie in the after match revelries. The enforced change appeared to make little difference to the ‘Endrick intent to secure the opening score as they continued to test the visiting defence. The resistance was finally breached when, from a series of drives and rucks close to the Lomond/Helensburgh line Duncan MacEachran scored. The strong wind was going to test any kicker and the try was unconverted. The next 10 minutes saw ‘Endrick control the game but all attempts to add to the score were thwarted by a well organised and determined Lomond/Helensburgh defence.
With 20 minutes played ‘Endrick prop left the field to be replaced by Dougie Spence, seems this pair look upon a game as a “job share” (The change was reversed later in the match). Tow minutes later, after a series of tackles all deemed to be high saw James Lorimer “take one for the team” with a 10 minute rest on the side line – turned out the sin bin seat was to kept warm all day. It took little time, just two minutes, for the one man advantage to be turn into points as Lomond/Helensburgh scored a converted try. Score 5-7.
The next 10 minutes saw the two sides playing good rugby both in attack and defence but no changes to the scoreboard. 35 minutes played and ‘Endrick were forced into another change when the highly effective Angus Morrison took a head knock and left the field to be replaced by the equally effective Finn Walford.
With a minute of time remaining in the half centre Charlie Walker collected a pass on the halfway line and, having chosen a great running line, appeared to ghost pass a number of defenders who could not match his pace to the line. Once again the conversion was unsuccessful and as the end of the first half approached, ‘Endrick had a 3 point lead.
Lomond/Helensburgh clearly decided that 60 seconds was more than enough time to regain the lead and took up position close to the home side’s line. With the clock showing red, and after a number of driving mauls, the earlier try scorer Duncan MacEachran was ruled to have collapsed the maul resulting in him being shown a yellow card and Lomond/Helensburgh being awarded a penalty try.
Half time score – Strathendrick 10 – Lomond/Helensburgh 14.
Whatever message was delivered in the ‘Endrick half time huddle had the desired effect as in the opening 10 minutes they scored two unconverted tries both finished off by Findlay Kay. The first was arguably the try of the day as ‘Endrick gained possession in their 22 and, saw Dougie Duff take the play to the blind side, the right hand touchline. From a quick ruck the ball passed through a series of hands and advance up the field with secure hands passing the ball away from or out of the tackle – when play reached the Lomond/Helensburgh 22 the Fintry Flyer took control and covered the final 25 yards for his first try of the day. His second, two minutes later, was from a tap penalty first taken on by the forwards who created the opening for the score.
The next occupant of the sin bin chair was Finn Walford who the referee deemed had made a high tackle on the ball carrying Lomond/Helensburgh player. Has to be said that this did appear to be a bit harsh as the Lomond/Helensburgh player was undoubtedly dipping into the contact and perhaps leading with his head – whatever the opinion of the touchline it was another 10 minutes to be played with 14 men. This disadvantage made little difference to the ‘Endrick effort as they were to score again after 58 minutes. Winning a lineout the ball was moved through three phases of play, driving maul and rucks, then on the final phase Murray Calderwood charged over close to the posts to give Ben Anderson a simple conversion. Score 27-14.
Lomond/Helensburgh’s first chance for a 2nd half score was to add three points from what was a difficult kick but they could not disrupt the scoring momentum of the home side. There had been 72 minutes played when from an attacking scrum close to the Lomond/Helensburgh line Murray Calderwood again barged his way over for an unconverted try. With an 18 point lead and eight minutes of play remaining it could be that ‘Endrick relaxed or Lomond/Helensburgh upped their efforts to snatch a victory – whatever the reason it was the visitors who took the game into their opponent’s 22m area and pressed for scores. They were rewarded with two tries, both of which were converted, and both from tap penalty moves as the score narrowed to 32-28. There was a real sense of nervousness on the ‘Endrick touchline as Lomond/Helensburgh appeared to be in command of proceedings.
From the restart the ball was kicked as deeply as possible into the Lomond/Helensburgh half, difficult in the head wind, and chased hard. Understandably Lomond/Helensburgh did not kick away possession with less than a minute of time remaining, it was ‘Endrick who gained possession 20m from the try line and took control with a series of four drives by the forwards, the last of which gave James Ogilvy the opportunity to bounce off a couple of defenders for a try converted by Ben Anderson. This was to be the final play of the match as the referee signalled full time.
Final score – Strathendrick 39 – Lomond/Helensburgh 28.
A great game to watch with11 tries scored, but the 3 yellow cards and a significant number of penalties (26) conceded by Strathendrick, high tackles, holding on the ground and side entries appearing to be the main offences, told a tale.
The next round of this competition had been drawn before the match and will see ‘Endrick travel to Uddingston on 17th February. There are no scheduled matches between today and 17th February.
All the home players have asked that their appreciation of the sizeable crowd, certainly the biggest of this season, be noted. It does make a difference to the game so thanks to all who attended. Don’t be strangers!
Photos from the game are posted in two albums, reflecting the quality and enjoyment from the sideline, please feel free to add your comments!!