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Lasswade win to stay on top

Monday February 16th 2015

Reporter Richard Payne

East Kilbride 11 Lasswade 14

East Kilbride took root in the middle of the table early on and are completely safe from relegation but are equally unlikely to rise up the table. Rewards are hard to find in these circumstances but one such can be having an influence on the promotion race by upsetting the main contenders. Having been swept away by Preston Lodge last week, Lasswade were next up with the added spice of seeking to avenge comprehensive Cup then League defeats at Hawthornden at the start of the season.

EK came uncomfortably close to an upset, restricting the League leaders to two tries and getting within three points with twelve minutes still to play and testing the League leaders’ defence to the full before ending up with a loser’s bonus point.

On a slightly soft pitch but in bright sunshine with no wind to speak of, Lasswade applied the early pressure but first blood went to Shankie’s boot for a Lasswade ruck infringement in front of the posts.

While Lasswade had much of the possession and played the more adventurous rugby they couldn’t convert this into points until past the quarter hour. A set scrum on the home 22 provided the platform for the ball to be whisked along the backs with two loops to stretch the defence and Dougie Hearn finished off on the opposite wing. Hunter bisected the uprights from wide out.

A spoiling defence and handling errors prevented further scoring by the visitors so a long range penalty by Shankie late in the first period completed the 6-7 half time score.

The first ten minutes after the break all belonged to Lasswade but handling errors again got in the way and at least one three-man-overlap-with-space went to waste. In the end it was up the old faithful catch-and-drive to move the score along. Starting from a lineout on the 22 it was eventually collapsed 10 metres short but Cooke as the man in possession broke down the blind side and evaded three tacklers into the corner. Hennessey’s conversion opened up the only slightly more secure eight point gap.

That lead felt less and less secure as the half went on. Killies mounted several attacks deep in to Lasswade territory but the Lasswade defence held. To further contain the onslaught, the visitors also played more controlled rugby exemplified by their man of the match, Borthwick, who drove repeatedly at the opponents but ensured that the ball was always available for recycling from the breakdowns.

However, EK’s persistence finally paid off in the 69th minute when they won a turnover from Lasswade trying to run from deep. The ball was swiftly transferred out the backs to Brown who rounded two defenders, chipped ahead and won the chase to touch-down. Blackwood missed the conversion.

Lasswade undoubtedly would want to wish EK success in their remaining matches since they include Dumfries, Cougars and West of Scotland (3rd, 4th and 5th, respectively).

Meantime, a win’s a win even if it’s not pretty and Lasswade stay top of the table but now just two points clear of PL who crushed Murrayfield 85-14.

Preston Lodge come to Hawthornden on 28 February but this Saturday it’s the Wanderers who make that journey and Lasswade’s Captain Billingham and Coach Hennessey will be looking for a more convincing result. Kick-off 3pm.

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