McLaren HSFP 9 Cumbernauld RFC 6
As a result of on-going pitch difficulties at their home patch in Callander, McLaren switched this RBS League Division 2 (West) fixture to Dunblane and came away with a narrow win.
The game was there for Cumbernauld to take the points, but some inconsistent decision-taking and careless passing undone the visitors’ spirited attack.
This was best exemplified in the closing minutes of the game, with Cumbernauld 6-9 down and mounting ferocious attack after attack on the home side’s line.
After awarding numerous penalties against McLaren for numerous infringements, the referee sin-binned a McLaren second row player.
Cumbernauld should have taken the scrum, which they had mostly dominated earlier, took on the McLaren scrum, now minus a key second row player, and gone for the push over try. They didn’t, went for another tap penalty which took them over the line, but were held up giving the referee the opportunity to whistle for the end of the game.
However, there was a view among the travelling support that the referee should have awarded a penalty try as a result of McLaren’s frequent use of illegal means to deny Cumbernauld their try. This was not to be, and Cumbernauld paid the price.
However, there were many positives to be taken from this match. Cumbernauld’s backs made many first-half incursions into enemy territory and Ruaridh Clark was notable for his strong running and good angles.
Zac Davies, making his first competitive start for the Blacks, showed up well, before being replaced in the second half by Daniel Prinn. Anthony Rice also made his debut on the other wing and gave a good personal account. Chris Birney returned to the fray after his self-imposed sabbatical and featured strongly. Grant Cowie was again Cumbernauld’s man-of-the-match and he was ably supported by Ross Cowie and Ian Hepburn.
The main feature of the first half was the exchange of penalties between the teams. McLaren took an early lead before captain Jordan Reid replied with two place kicks to give Cumbernauld a 6-3 half-time lead.
Following some slack passing and poor defensive clearances by Cumbernauld, McLaren forced their way back into the game in the second half and Cumbernauld were forced to concede two penalties in front of the posts to give McLaren the lead.
Cumbernauld now face league leaders Carrick at Auchenkilns on Saturday. Players are reminded that training is arranged for the Antonine Centre, Croy, on Tuesday and Thursday at 6.45 p.m. for a 7 p.m. prompt start.
Asked for his opinion on the match, club president Jim Cochrane said: ”We have a good scrummage going forward on opposition ball, but we seem to lose too many against the head.
“Speaking as a former hooker, in my day we always considered a strike against the head as a badge of honour so why are we losing so much of our own ball in the scrum? The only remedy is practice, practice and more practice.
“We went in against McLaren with an under-strength team but our front row consisted of two seasoned veterans, Alan Durson and Nick Richardson and a relatively inexperienced but aggressive hooker in Craig Gough, supported by two strong second-row players in Gavin Calder and Chris Birney. Our forwards have to train together more often.”