With Cumbernauld’s main rivals for relegation, Uddingston and Waysiders/Drumpellier losing to Oban and Stewartry respectively, the Badgers “bonus” point gain in Saturday’s BT West Divison 2 league encounter with Clydebank could prove invaluable. Cumbernauld had lost the earlier game away to Clydebank by virtue of the fact that the Bankies had a towering second row forward who dominated every lineout and ensured his team overwhelming ball possession powering them to a 31-24 win. Unfortunately this lesson was not absorbed by the home team who consistently kicked for touch only to have possession undone by the same Clydebank player. Certainly conditions did not allow for good open rugby and Cumbernauld performed well in the first half despite playing into a strong wind. The pattern of play for the game was established early in the first half when following a series of mauls, Clydebank won lineout possession and drove for the line. A try looked certain until the referee pinged Clydebank for a penalty, saving the day for a frayed-looking Cumbernauld pack. Unfortunately the portents were there to be seen and shortly afterwards, another lineout and drive resulted in a try scored by their beanpole second row. To Cumbernauld’s credit they took the game to their opposition immediately and following a great kick to touch by Martin Wallace, Cumbernauld won a penalty which was kicked to touch and subsequently lost. Cumbernauld’s momentum at this point regained them possession and from a scrum the ball was fed out to Jordan Reid, filling in at full-back for the day, to break a tackle and score in the corner. The difficult conversion was unsuccessful but Cumbernauld added to their lead when sustained driving ruck and maul play resulted in a penalty in front of the posts which stand-off Andrew Reid was never going to miss. Just before half time a fine Martin Wallace interception almost resulted in a score for the home but following another lost lineout, Clydebank cleared upfield and were subsequently awarded a mysterious penalty which allowed them to kick for touch in the corner and from the inevitable possession to score in the corner giving them a 10-8 led at half time. Although wrong decision making was a feature of the first half, Cumbernauld had performed well against the wind and went into the second half confident that they could overcome the 2 point deficit.
The second half was a rather towsy affair with Cumbernauld giving away 2 cheap penalties, one of which was converted. Willie Bulloch then came on as a replacement and injected some much-needed power in the backline, breaking through some tough Clydebank tackling to score a converted try and allowing Cumbernauld to regain the lead. With the clock moving towards the 80 minute mark, Cumbernauld hopes were high and that a valuable home win was imminent but a last minute penalty to Clydebank gave the visitors a narrow win. The Badgers ended the day totally dejected because they hadn’t managed to hold on for a win. The weather conditions made running rugby unlikely and some idiosyncratic refereeing decisions, which resulted in 5 players being yellow-carded, certainly didn’t help the Cumbernauld squad to achieve their potential. Continued poor decision making from the home team was another issue that will have to be addressed and rectified but with 4 league games left, 3 of which are at home, Cumbernauld supporters must live in hope and not give up the ghost. JJ McNair was probably man-of-the-match but the back row of Cowie, Cowie and Carlin performed creditably in the loose.