Lasswade 18 West of Scotland 17

Saturday January 17th 2015

Reporter Richard Payne

Before this match Dumfries Saints topped the table having played one more game, with Lasswade just two points behind and West another two beyond that. With two more teams in close proximity every game is worth double the points to the victor in encounters between all five.

Add to the above the 18-15 nail-biter which was the first leg of this match-up back in October and the setting was complete for another epic struggle. Even the weather assisted by providing bright sunshine and only a gentle blow from Rosewell and the pitch had stood up well to the ravages of the previous few days.

Things started very badly for the hosts. Facing into the breeze, the deep kick-off was safely gathered and a ruck formed but the attempted clearance kick was charged down and grounded by Smeaton and West were five points ahead with just 56 seconds gone.

The home team recovered quickly and were soon threatening the West line but the defence held and Billingham asked Clarke to take the three points on offer after six minutes to narrow the gap.

The lack of scoring over the next half hour in no way reflected the effort shown on the park as both sets of forwards slugged it out and the backs moved the ball about but could not break the others’ defence. A West shot at goal slipped slightly wide on the half hour but there was just a few minutes of the half left before a West short range catch and drive was held on the Lasswade line and Tran was able to slide through a tiny gap for the second try. McAulay’s conversion made it 12-3.

That looked like being the half time score but two minutes into stoppage time Lasswade showed their own skill at the catch and drive and Donald Hearn secured the five points.

With the breeze at their backs in the second period Lasswadehad the majority of the territory and and needed 12 minutes for another lineout and rolling maul to give them one point lead courtesy of Donald Hearn again.

The last quarter was well under way before West showed themselves to be equally drilled in lineout and maul, paving the way for Ritchie to chalk up the third try and a four point margin.

Led from the front by Billingham in a man-of-the-the-match performance, Lasswade kept up the pressure for the full eighty minutes and as the clock ticked over into stoppage time Donald Hearn completed his hat trick after yet another successful drive from a five metre lineout.

Clarke’s missed conversion left the slimmest of leads but Lasswade were able to keep West in their own half for the final two minutes of stoppage time.

With Dumfries’ journey to Hawick postponed, Lasswade have now used up their game in hand and won back first place. West hold on to the third spot thanks to RHC Cougars who kept themselves in contention through a 20-8 defeat of Preston Lodge at the Rope Walk, thereby leapfrogging them into fourth place..

It’s Lasswade’s turn to visit the Cougars’ Barnton lair Saturday 24th January and they’ll need to be in top form. Kickoff 2pm.

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