Bishopton Rugby was a man down when they took the field for their home league match against Mid Argyll on Saturday, fielding a full strength team on the pitch but mourning the loss of their assistant coach John Ferguson who tragically died suddenly last Thursday evening of a heart attack. John joined the club at the beginning of last season and quickly became a fixture at Holmpark for both senior and junior sections, rarely missing a match or a training session. He will be fondly remembered and sadly missed by all at the club.
There was a lot of discussion about how appropriate it would be to play a game of rugby but the players agreed unanimously that John, who loved his rugby and had spent many, many hours of his life both playing and laterally coaching, would have wanted the game to go ahead. The pitch was soggy underfoot but it was an otherwise perfect day for rugby. Bishopton, sporting black armbands, won the toss and after an emotional minute’s silence elected to take the kick off.
Once again the hosts who are showing themselves to have very poor memories, were taken by surprise at the kick-off return. Mid Argyll caught the ball and rampaged back up the field with a 40-yard driving maul, recycling twice and forcing the home team into a blind defensive panic. A penalty was conceded and within one minute of kick-off the visitors had their first chance to collect some points. The kick at goal faded to the left of the posts, Bishopton were fortunate to escape and there were some very harsh words spoken by captain John Lamb.
This had the desired effect and for the rest of the first half Bishopton played their best rugby of the season so far. Despite some aggressive tackling from the visitors, the home team played clever, clinical rugby and used their fast backs to great effect. Andy Woodrow made a dynamic return to the scrum-half position after a few weeks’ absence and directed the pack to great effect, providing an abundance of fast clean ball to the backs. The first try came from flanker Ed Leadbeater from a quick recycle, and soon after the backs got in on the glory with tries from Michael Burke, Stuart Smith and David Adams. Alan Lees kicked all four conversions to take the half-time score to 28-0. Bishopton were unlucky to have had two tries from Woodrow and hooker Stu Kelly disallowed by the referee who was unsighted, both are still convinced that their names should be on the score sheet.
Coach David Jackson knows his players well and his talk focussed on the team not losing concentration and building on the lead. He set a target of ten minutes to score again and this was achieved with nine minutes and forty seconds to spare. The kick-off was collected by Chris Dunn who took the contact, the forwards rucked efficiently and Ed Leadbeater again showed lightning reactions for a forward, breaking the line of defence and scampering 70 yards to score his second of the day. Lees converted to open up a 35 point margin.
As coach Jackson had warned, Bishopton have shown a tendency to lose attention when sitting on a good lead. Again the team were guilty of this, and to give them the credit they deserve Mid Argyll capitalised well. The visiting forwards had a dangerous combination of power and experience which they put to good effect when the play became fractured. They hunted as a pack, and anyone daring to take the ball into them was quickly relieved of it. There were a few scuffles resulting from this increase in aggression and both teams lost a player to the sin bin near, during this time Mid Argyll scored two fine tries with their loose forwards. With ten minutes to go the visitors started running out of steam and this was punished by Bishopton, Ruairidh Salmon and Michael Burke both keeping up their incredible scoring runs with a try each.
The final score was 47-10 to Bishopton and the pressure was maintained on Hyndland who beat Bute to remain top of the table. This week marks the end of the first half of the season for Bishopton with a trip across to Dunoon to face a dangerous Cowal team who haven’t lost a home game this season. A bonus point win is the target, if achieved will see Bishopton reinforce their claim on one of the two promotion places up for grabs at the end of the season.