Uddingston Rugby Club’s 1st XV secured their first league victory of the season on Saturday when Wigtownshire were the visitors to Castle Policies for their RBS West Division 2 fixture. Despite a 7 point deficit at half time the Villagers fought their way back into the match and held on for the narrowest of victories 8-7.
With both Clubs fielding a blend of youth and experience it was a turgid affair, with very little in the way of flowing rugby from either side. The Villagers were keen to make amends for their defeat at the hands of Clydebank the week before while the visitors were looking to build on their victory over Strathaven. In the end, Uddingston deserved their victory for the way they refused to give in, even if they insisted on making harder work of the match than they should have.
The only score of the first half went to the visitors on 20 minutes. Using the weight and strength of their forwards Wigtownshire had driven deep into the Villagers 22, pulling in the defence. With gaps appearing round the fringes it was John McIntosh who picked from the base of the ruck and drove the last few metres towards the try line. Despite some strong tackling McIntosh was able to stretch out and place the ball on the try line. Davie Farquhar slotted the conversion to give the visitors a 7 point cushion.
Both sides fought hard for the ball and as a result the majority of the opening half was played in the middle third of the pitch, neither side able to create enough momentum to find the all-important break.
With 4 minutes of play left until the interval Wigtownshire had the opportunity to extend their lead when the Villagers were penalised for offside in front of their posts. Fortunately for Uddingston Farquhar pulled his kick wide keeping the half time score at 7-0.
The Villagers started the 2nd half with renewed purpose and were starting to push themselves deeper into the Wigtownshire half. A series of infringements by the visitors were punished by the referee and, taking quick taps the Villagers went looking for the try. With no gaps opening up they eventually opted to take the kick at goal when the visitors were penalised once more. Kirkland made sure of the 3 points from in front of the posts bringing Uddingston back into the game.
The Villagers were to capitalise on some poor defending by Wigtownshire just 4 minutes later, edging themselves into the lead. A long kick out of defence by Uddingston travelled deep into the visitors 22. Mikey McKeown went in chase but mistimed the ball and found himself running past the gathering defender. Fortunately for McKeown the Wigtownshire winger had not spotted him and proceeded to throw the ball straight into his waiting arms. Finding himself in space McKeown drove towards the try line before passing out to Tony McGowan who spun out of the tackle to crash over the line. The conversion from out wide proved too much for Kirkland but the Villagers were now ahead 8-7.
With 20 minutes still to play both sides went looking for another score, but as with the first half, the majority of play was stuck in the middle of the park. From an Uddingston perspective it was the youngest and oldest players who helped secure the victory, with some excellent defensive work from both Ross McKeown and Ali Black snuffing out several Wigtownshire attacks.
At the end, the Villagers held out and were relieved to have secured their opening win of the campaign.
Over at Cambuslang, the 2nd XV were not so fortunate, going to 55-10 in their opening league match of the season. This was the first time in several years that the Villagers had been able to field a 2nd XV in the league and from that perspective the result was almost secondary to the hard work that Kevin Kidd and Stewart Chalmers put in to get their team on the pitch. The Villagers tries came from Gavin Quinn and Kidd.
Next Saturday, 17/09, both the 1st and 2nd XV’s travel up the A80 to face Cumbernauld in their respective league fixtures. Both games kick-off at 3pm.