RHC Cougars 19 Lasswade 22

Monday January 26th 2015

Reporter Richard Payne

All wins are important but this is another of the more crucial ones RHC Cougars 19 Lasswade 22

Last week RHC beat promotion-chasing Preston Lodge but seven days before that they lost to relegation-vulnerable Dunfermline. This rather describes the Cougars’ season but going into this game they were still involved in the title-chasing group, partly by dint of an extra completed game over all other teams,

Lasswade top the Division and know that in such a close contest every game is a must-win and wins against the other leaders are virtually worth double the points, Both sides had plenty to play for and it showed.

The pitch was a bit soft with quite a strong breeze down its length but apart from that it was a dry and bright sunny afternoon and set fair for open rugby.

With the visitors facing into the breeze, Cougars kicked off and immediately pounded the Lasswade defence mostly through their heavy forwards but also with some probing runs outside. A kickable penalty was sliced just past the upright but a few minutes later,
on the quarter hour, Morrison was right on target.

Cougars easily gathered the restart and resumed the pummelling of the Lasswade defence but it proved up to the task as far as tries were concerned so their only reward was another Morrison penalty early in the second quarter.

This time Lasswade built on the restart kick and forced Cougars back into their 22 for the first time. A penalty to touch set up a short range line out but the driving maul was stopped on the line. Secure recycling of the ball from two more rucks a metre short eventually gave Neil Clark the chance to force his way over. Lewis Clarke’s conversion gave the table toppers the lead, of a single point, for the first time.

With territory and possession divided more evenly another Morrison penalty five minutes before the interval brought up the 9-7 half time score line.

Lasswade started the second half explosively, quickly regaining the kick-off and forced several recycles near the line until the Cougars ran out of defenders and Sinclair ended it through a fairly short and direct route to the line and the hooker went on to be named as Lasswade’s man of the match. Clarke’s conversion drifted wide but the visitors had the lead again on 9-12.

The Cougars quickly recovered and within 5 minutes a lineout 15 metres out gave them the chance to exploit the catch and drive. Prop Hicks claimed the points, and the lead again, but Morrison couldn’t find the posts with the conversion.

With Hennessey on the field now and using the breeze to kick for territory Lasswade needed just 8 minutes to get back into the black. Fully four minutes of that time was a sequence of continuous, patient, controlled possession, recycling and moving of the ball through virtually every pair of supporting hands until Hunter drove through the last two defenders to ground under the posts. Hennessey’s conversion was a formality and restored a lead of five points.

The next fifteen minutes were mostly Lasswade’s in both possession and territory but RHC defended stubbornly and Hennessey opted to stretch the lead to a slightly more secure 8 points when the penalty opportunity was offered.

Needing to score at least twice and with only five minutes of normal time remaining, RHC piled on the pressure. Spurning shots at goal they repeatedly set up short range lineouts but were repeatedly held up until four minute into stoppage time the rolling maul eventually carried Hicks over the line for his second try. Morrison’s missed conversion was the final action of the game.

Several times this season Lasswade have shown the resilience, persistence and fitness to come from behind and play the full eighty minutes to secure the victory.

Lasswade keep the lead but Dumfries’ bonus point win narrows the gap to one point and Preston Lodge are eight points behind with a game in hand. The shock result of the day was Hawick YM’s 20-12 away win at West of Scotland meaning the Milngavie side have now lost four games in a row. They stay in fourth place but the alarm bells must be ringing.

Lasswade’s guests this week are Dalziel who need to cash in a couple of games in hand to get out of the second relegation spot. The hosts will be out to make sure that they have to find their salvation elsewhere. Kick-off still 2pm.

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