A BATTLING performance by Whitecraigs on Saturday moved them one step closer to a second successive promotion. Faced with a tough trip to fellow front-runners Linlithgow the West Lodge boys knew it was going to be a demanding afternoon, but the young side rose to the challenge once again.
Having lost to their hosts earlier in the season Craigs had a point to prove and with the help of a vocal travelling support managed to extend the gap at the top of the league to an impressive 13 points.
Both sides struggled to find any real continuity with ferocious tackling and organised defending making it difficult to break through. It took until the tenth minute for the first points of the day when Whitecraigs gave away a penalty in front of the posts which was dispatched with ease by the excellent home kicker. Craigs reacted well to going behind and were trying hard to move the ball wide in a bid to unlock the home defence.
But they were forced to settle for a Ryan Moffat penalty to bring them level after 15 minutes. The kickers both had another shot at goal each, without success, before Craigs thought they had grabbed a priceless try, only for the referee to rule that Moffat had been held up over the line. It was clear that despite the faultless playing conditions it was going to be a nervous day for the crowd and the match remained level into the break.
After the interval Craigs got on the scoreboard almost immediately after Moffat slotted a majestic penalty from just inside the opposition half. Once again Linlithgow responded though and brought the scores level again. It looked as though it would stay at 6-6 but with just 10 minutes to go another piece of indiscipline from Whitecraigs gave the home kicker an unmissable opportunity which he duly dispatched. With Craigs facing a promotion-damaging defeat the never-say-die attitude started to shine through. Clever kicking from Ally Stevenson pushed Craigs deep into opposition territory and from a scrum close to the line a perfectly executed backs move saw Moffat glide over for a crucial try.
Although the conversion was missed Whitecraigs held on to record a massive victory in the title race.
Head coach Jim Henderson said: "It was a difficult game for both sides with such a large crowd making everyone nervous. We both cancelled one another out except towards the end of the match I thought they tired more than us. Overall it was a good win and it's back to business next week, but we must be getting close to the winning line."
Next week Whitecraigs welcome Glasgow Accies to West Lodge. Kick-off 3pm.
Team: Laidlaw, Christine, Campbell, Howarth, Stuart, B. Blamire, Pollock, K. Hunter, Henderson, Stevenson, Kemp, Moffat, Nicol, Johnston, Fisher. Subs - Nisbet, F. Hunter, Turnbull.