Uddingston Rugby Club opened their RBS West Division 2 campaign on Saturday with an away fixture at Clydebank. Over recent years this has not been a happy hunting ground for Uddingston and so it proved again. In what was a game of two halves the Villagers fought back from a 22-0 half time deficit to score two second half tries, eventually going down 22-14.
The Villagers were under pressure from the kick-off with poor handling and naïve decision making awarding the Bankies a penalty in the first minute. Fortunately for Uddingston Starkey pulled his kick wide to leave the scoreboard unmoved.
With several regular players missing for various reasons the young Uddingston side were struggling to get into the game and fell behind after 8 minutes. Good pressure by Clydebank in the Uddingston 22 allowed the ball to be moved wide, David McLintock outpacing the defence to score in the corner. Starkey again missed with the kick leaving the score at 5-0.
With only 2 more minutes played Clydebank were again awarded a penalty when the Villagers were caught offside. Once more Starkey failed to convert but the pressure on Uddingston was mounting. A change of kicker eventually brought success for Clydebank when Ross Moffat slotted home a penalty on 12 minutes, the Villagers once more penalised for offside.
The next 20 minutes saw some gritty rugby from both sides, but Clydebank were starting to use their strength and experience to dominate possession and were making it hard for the Villagers to establish themselves in the match. The Bankies extended their lead with their 2nd try of the afternoon on 35 minutes. Having been held up over the line by some brave Uddingston defending Clydebank reset the scrum and Euan Cuthbert found enough space to power over from close range. Moffat added the extra points to give Clydebank a 15-0 advantage.
With the first half coming to a close the Villagers were pressing in the Clydebank 22. Looking to pull a score back before the break they moved the ball wide, but poor control in the tackle saw the ball spilled. McLintock reacted first for the home side and hacked the ball deep into the Uddingston half and set off on a 70 metre chase before dribbling the ball over the try line to score at the posts. Moffat made sure with the kick and the ref brought the first 40 minutes to a close with the home side comfortably ahead 22-0.
If the first half had been one way traffic the second developed into more of a contest as the Villagers started to get themselves back into the match. Some strong tackling and direct running forced Clydebank to play more of the game in their own half and the Villagers were starting to find the gaps that had been so elusive in the first period.
Despite this renewed purpose it took until 58 minutes before Uddingston put points on the board. Breaking out of defence the ball was moved through the hands, forcing the Clydebank defence to scramble back. With the ball finding Tom Hughes on the wing he sized up his would be tackler, stepped inside and left him sprawling on the grass, clutching at fresh air. Hughes cut his way past 3 other would be tacklers before darting over at the posts. Kirkland popped over the conversion bringing the score back to 22-7.
The Villagers secured their second score of the afternoon on 76 minutes. The forwards had driven deep into the Clydebank 22 and had forced a penalty, 5 metres from the Clydebank try line. Bruce McKirdy was first to react, quickly taking the tap and bursting for the line. Realising his path was blocked the ball was quickly recycled and it was Hughes who was on hand to scoop up the ball and dive through the gap to score at the posts. Once more Kirkland was on target and with 5 minutes to play the Villagers were only 8 points behind, 22-14.
The Villagers threw everything they had at Clydebank in the closing minutes and thought they had secured a losing bonus point when they were awarded a penalty just inside the Clydebank half. Unfortunately for Uddingston the distance proved just too much for Kirkland and the home side were able to clear their lines.
Next Saturday, 10th September, Uddingston 1st XV are again on league duty when Wigtownshire will be the visitors to Castle Policies. The 2nd XV also get their league season underway next Saturday with the short trip to Cambuslang. Both matches kick off at 3pm