What a Thriller but West Win it in the End
A great game and a much improved performance but PL just lose out in the end
After last week's heavy defeat at home, Preston Lodge travelled to play West of Scotland on Saturday hoping for a much improved performance to boost confidence and try to get their season going.
PL started well in perfect weather conditions with the pack winning and looking after the ball which meant that most of the play was taking place in the West of Scotland half during the first few minutes. And it wasn't long before PL got the first points on the board when centre Alan Whittingham finished of a good move by touching down in the corner. The conversion was missed and PL deserved their 0-5 lead but unfortunately it had come at a cost because prop Connor MacLeod had been injured and had to be replaced by Chris Dixon. This meant a quick reshuffle of the pack with Chris Anderson moving to the front row to allow Dixon to slot into his usual position of flanker.
West had also been forced into an early change after their scrum half was injured but following the restart, they started to play better and soon had PL on the back foot. A quick tap penalty on the PL 10 metre line led to a period of intense pressure with PL putting up a gritty defence but another penalty was conceded which West chose to kick and narrow the gap to 3-5 after 12 minutes.
PL's reshuffled pack soon settled down though and once again got themselves on top of the forwards battle with a series of scrums and penalties on the West five metre line. Confidence was high and they lookd as though they were about to score a pushover try but unfortunately the ball was knocked on at the crucial moment and West were able to clear their lines.
Clearly, there wasn't much between the sides but in the 25th minute, it was a poor clearance kick out of defence by PL that allowed West to gain momentum when Davis collected the ball and charge through the PL back line to score.
This put the home side 8-5 up and they soon extended that lead with a good passing move, helped by some poor tackling, which allowed McAuley to squeeze over for the try. This time the conversion was successful and West were 15-5 up after half an hour.
PL were playing with a lot of confidence so there was no chance that this setback would see their heads drop and sure enough, they hit right back with a great move to create an overlap and it was Pete Johnstone who found himself clear to score in the corner. Robbie Griffin was on target with the conversion and PL were right back in the game with the score 15-12 at half time.
PL started the second half as they had done the first with a good spell of early pressure which was rewarded with an excellent try set up by Whittingham. His pinpoint chip found Euan Higgins on the wing allowing him to score in the left corner and suddenly PL were back in the lead at 15-17.
The visitors were now definitely in the ascendancy and it took some excellent defending from West to keep them in check. Things got a bit easier for PL when Fisken was yellow carded and this allowed the PL pack to take control with a series of patient pick and go moves and it was captain Jason Riley who made sure that the pressure was profitable with an excellent and well worked try when he picked up from the back of a five metre scrum. Griffin converted again and PL were looking good as they were 15-24 up after 53 minutes and the try bonus point had been secured.
West had other ideas though and they would ensure that the ding-dong battle would continue when they capitalised on another poor PL clearance with a good passing move that allowed Gray to score the try which Smith converted to narrow the gap to 22-24.
It was hard to predict what might happen next in this scintillating battle between two teams who were trying their best to play good rugby but this time it was the turn of the PL backs to show what they were made of. A great handling move proved to good for the home defence and Euan Higgins was able to take full advantage of the overlap to dive over for his second score. It was a great try and Robbie Griffin made it better with a fantastic conversion from the touchline which put PL clear again at 22-31 with 20 minutes to play.
Unfortunately for PL though, the final quarter would belong to the home side when they quickly hit back with a converted try which brought them back into the game at 29-31 and they too had now secured a try scoring bonus point.
As full time approached. PL were still exertng some pressure on the West defence but despite two clearance kicks being charged down, they were unable to create any further chances.
The final, cruel twist in this tense match came from the final move of the game when West capitalised on an attacking maul and then put the ball to good use by sending it out wide to create an overlap for Burns to score and win the game with the final score 34-31.
PL had given everything only to have victory snatched away at the end but West had given an equally good performance in what was a great advert for club rugby.
On the positive side for PL, this was a much improved performance from last week and will give them lots of confidence when they take on Hillhead/Jordanhill back at The Pennypit next
Saturday. Kick off 3pm.
Preston Lodge Team:
P Glynn, E Higgins, A Whittingham, E Runciman, S Peter, R Griffin, D Gordon
D Lyall, C Blaikie, C MacLeod, J Sked, B Cowan, C Anderson, P Johnstone, J Riley
J Burns, J Clipston, C Dixon, A Morton