Uddingston Rugby Club went into their penultimate RBS West Division 2 league fixture on Saturday knowing that a bonus point win would give them a chance of surviving the relegation battle. At the end of a thrilling 80 minutes of rugby the Villagers had secured the 4 try bonus but just missed out on the win, going down 31-38 to a spirited Clydebank side.
In a similar fashion to their previous meeting, on the opening day of the season, Uddingston allowed the Bankies to get their noses in front and, despite fighting their way back into the match, the Villagers were unable to take the lead at any stage of the match.
The first half of the match was dominated by the visitors, using their power in the forwards to dictate the pace of the game. With half an hour played the Bankies were 14 points ahead, courtesy of 2 converted tries from Euan Cuthbert, Ross Moffatt adding the 2 successful conversions. The Villagers were putting up a strong fight, but too often poor decision making resulted in lost possession and Clydebank coming away with the ball, especially around the contact areas.
With time running out in the opening period, and the clock very deep into injury time, Chris King pulled one back for the Villagers. Good pressure in midfield forced Clydebank to panic their passing, and as the ball dropped loose King intercepted. With half of the pitch to go it was a straight footrace for the line, with King just having enough gas in the tank to go over out wide for the try. Young Richy Murray slotted the conversion with ease, despite the angle, and the whistle sounded for half time with the Villagers only 7 points adrift, 7-14.
The second period started in much the same fashion as the first, with mistakes in the home ranks giving the Bankies number 8 Euan Cuthbert the opportunity to add 2 further converted tries, with Moffatt again adding the extras, and secure their 4 try bonus. With 46 minutes played the visitors were 7-28 ahead and the home support started to fear the worst. Thankfully the fears were misplaced as the Villagers finally found their rhythm and started to attack the gaps around the visiting defence.
First to score for the Villagers was scrum half Lewis Tarrier. With the Villagers attacking inside the Clydebank 22 the referee awarded a scrum to Uddingston, 5 metres from the try line. With the pack holding well, number 8 Donald Haldane picked from the base and as he drove into the defence he popped the ball back to Tarrier who powered his way over from close range. Murray missed with the kick bringing the score to 12-28.
Six minutes later David Madden closed the gap further with a well worked try for Uddingston. Again, good ball retention had allowed the Villagers to drive deep into the Bankies half. As the ball was moved wide Madden broke through the cover tackle and set off for the line, sprinting away from the defence to dive over in the corner. Once more the angle proved too much for Murray’s conversion but the scoreline now stood at 17-28.
The Villagers were playing with renewed confidence, however they were brought back down to earth 4 minutes later when a simple missed tackle allowed the Bankies to drive over the line, Jamie Boyd claiming the try. Moffatt was again on target and the successful conversion took the score to 17-35. Despite the setback Uddingston got back into the match on 66 minutes. A long clearance kick from Clydebank was well taken by Tom Hughes, out on the right wing. With plenty of space in front of him Hughes set off at pace, beating 2 tacklers before rounding off the move with a sprint under the posts. Murray made no mistake with the kick bring the Villagers back to within 11 points, 24-35 and securing their own 4 try bonus.
With the match entering the final 10 minutes Clydebank showed how seriously they were taking the Villagers renewed challenge. Awarded a penalty for offside 25 metres from the Uddingston posts the Bankies Captain Moffatt had no hesitation in opting for the kick and re-established the 2 score advantage, 24-38. Not to be outdone the Villagers pushed back, driving into the Clydebank half before some excellent hands worked the ball into the 22. With the referee spotting a Clydebank infringement the Villagers took the quick tap. The Bankies were quick to react, but the referee decreed that they were not the required 10 metres and the Villagers had a second penalty. Again they looked to run the ball and with Tarrier taking the tap, James Brown burst into the gap, collecting the pass and barrelling his way over the line. Murray’s kick split the uprights and the game was all to play for, 31-38 with 5 minutes left on the clock.
Unfortunately for the Villagers, despite some real commitment from tired legs they were unable to find the points needed to claim the victory. The 2 bonus points claimed from this fixture lift the Villagers off the foot of the table, and with one match left to play they still have the mathematical chance to avoid relegation.
Next Saturday, 31/03, will see the Villagers travel to Cambuslang in their final league fixture of the season. Kick off 3pm.