Cumbernauld’s main achievement was in fielding a team for this week’s fixture. By Thursday night only 8 players were fit or available for the Valentine’s Day encounter against McLaren, but a last minute recruitment effort saw injured and former players join the ranks with Cumbernauld even boasting a bench of one at the 20 minute mark. Despite this, the game proved a closely contested if rather staccato affair.
McLaren started strongly with Cumbernauld pinned back in their own half, due to a combination of well-placed McLaren kicks, Cumbernauld infringements and at least a few unfortunate forward pass decisions. McLaren’s reward for this pressure came in the form of a penalty to give them the early lead. Cumbernauld then started to settle into the game with strong running from fly-half Ruaridh Clark and centres Scott Fretwell and Brodie Clark. The inroads made in midfield set the platform for two kickable penalty attempts, but unfortunately in the absence of the team’s regular place kickers neither was converted. McLaren were next to score, with the McLaren winger benefiting from an overlap on the blindside of the scrum and going over despite Cumbernauld claims of a knock on in the act of scoring. The penalty attempt was successful and despite a strong scrum, some good possession and field position, as well as a number of good lineout takes by no. 8 Grant Cowie, the score remaind 10 – 0 at half time.
McLaren started the second half with an early score but could not secure the conversion. This was a blow for Cumbernauld but was followed by a resurgence from the away side that led to sustained pressure in the oppositions 22. At this stage Cumbernauld were looking for a try to get back into the game, coming very close on a number of occasions with McLaren infringing repeatedly as the pressure took its toll. The penalties failed to lead to scores and McLaren were excellent in securing turnovers and penalties by competing strongly in the rucks. Cumbernauld repeatedly fell foul to holding the ball on the ground when McLaren exploited those who were isolated with the ball. There was no better example of this than when Brodie Clark made a clean break from a well-timed scissors move. But rather than this resulting in disarray in the McLaren defence, the lack of support lead to another penalty and the loss of possession. This encapsulated the Cumbernauld effort where lots of promise lead to little reward. McLaren scored a final kick to make the full time score 18 – 0 but Cumbernauld move on with optimism and hopefully a bigger squad for their next game away against Stewartry rugby club.
Finally a special mention should be made to the last minute recruits Alex Stokes, John Harvey, Michael MacDonald, Greig Kay, Ryan Quate and Paul Justice for their efforts both on and off the pitch to give Cumbernauld a fighting chance for this fixture.