Villagers Come Close To Cup Upset

Uddingston Rugby Club narrowly missed out on causing an upset in this season’s Scottish Hydro Regional Bowl when they entertained Clydebank on Saturday. With the ‘Bankies’ sitting 5th in Division One the Villagers knew that this would be a strong test of the progress they have made this season, and give an indicator on how they will survive if, as expected, they secure promotion back to Division 1.

For those watching this was never going to be a classic game of running rugby, but both sides threw everything they had into the match with Clydebank eventually securing the victory 8-5, setting up a second round trip to the Isle of Mull next Saturday.

The visitors had the first opportunity to open the scoring on 14 minutes when they were awarded a penalty for handling on the ground. In ideal kicking conditions Ross Moffat pulled his kick wide keeping the scoreboard untroubled.

The opening 20 minutes were dominated by the visitors as they showed the strength and experience gained from several seasons in Division 1. To their credit, the Villagers defended strongly and on several occasions had to dig deep to prevent an opening try being conceded.

As the match entered the 2nd quarter the Villagers started to get into their stride and were now making regular visits to the Clydebank half. A penalty for offside was awarded and John Kinnoch kicked deep into the Clydebank 22 to secure a 5 metre lineout. An excellent catch in the middle of the line by Donald Haldane gave the Villagers the platform to drive towards the try line. With Clydebank unable to halt the Uddingston pack a ruck was formed 2 metres out. As the cover defence scrambled to plug the gaps it was Uddingston’s scrum half, and man of the match, Andy Lowe who picked from the base and wriggled his way through 3 tackles to touch down on the line for the opening try. Stewart MacKay’s conversion fell short but the Villagers were ahead 5-0.

The remainder of the 2nd quarter was the opposite of the opening 20 minutes, with Uddingston dominating territory and forcing Clydebank to scramble the ball clear on a number of occasions. With neither side taking a step backwards the half time whistle sounded with the scoreline still at 5-0 to the Villagers.

The second half started in similar fashion to the first, with Clydebank powering their way into the Uddingston half and setting up camp. It only took 4 minutes of the half for the visitors to draw level. Lineout ball was secured allowing the large Clydebank pack to drive towards the line. This time the Villagers failed to counter the driving maul and the visitors had sufficient strength to power over the line, Scott McIntosh claiming the touchdown. Moffat was closer with his conversion attempt but the ball rebounded off the upright leaving the scores tied at 5-5.

This was now becoming a war of attrition and both sides had genuine belief that they could secure victory. With the game becoming scrappy on the floor it was becoming more obvious that the next score could secure victory, and so it proved. The Villagers were penalised for infringing at the ruck and Moffat made sure of his kick to push Clydebank ahead 8-5, with only 8 minutes of play remaining.

To their credit the Villagers threw everything into the closing minutes, and could have taken the tie into extra time when they to were awarded a very kickable penalty. Believing they could breach the Clydebank defence the Villagers elected to run the ball rather than kick for goal and came close, but ultimately not close enough. As the whistle sounded, deep into injury time, there were cheers of relief from the Clydebank side whilst the Villagers could hold their heads high knowing that the had not been disgraced and had set down a strong marker for next season.

Uddingston’s 2nd XV travelled to Kilmarnock on Saturday to face their Ayrshire counterparts. Despite a close, competitive first half the home side dominated the 2nd period, running out comfortable winners 31-10. Uddingston’s points were secured by Colin West and Neil Hearty with a try each.

Uddingston’s next competitive match is the 20th of February when Clydesdale are the visitors to Bothwell Castle Policies in their Scottish Hydro league match. Victory in this Lanarkshire derby would guarantee promotion for the Villagers, with 1 further victory in their final 2 fixtures required to secure the league title. Kick-off for the big game will be 3pm