Season best puts West on brink of promotion

Blair Smith kicked three penalties in the vital win over Dumfries
Blair Smith kicked three penalties in the vital win over Dumfries

West of Scotland gave their promotion hopes a huge boost with a potentially crucial 14-5 win over rivals Dumfries Saints at Burnbrae on Saturday.

With GHK well clear at the top of the BT National League Division 3 table, the fight for the second promotion slot looks between West and Dumfries.

And with West going into this game already two points ahead, the win gave the Milngavie side what could be much needed breathing space given they still have to travel to play GHK and fourth-placed Haddington.

There was a festival atmosphere at Burnbrae with the players being piped on to the pitch and the ground fuller than it has been for some time.

West started and pressed hard into Dumfries territory, with inventive, well organised play. But the Dumfries defence was equally well organised and points were going to be hard to come by.

Ross McAulay cleverly dummied a drop goal and as the Dumfries defence paused, found a hole and ran straight through the heart of the defence.

Dumfries stopped him but in desperation gave away a penalty in front of the posts which Blair Smith converted to nose West ahead 3-0.

More West pressure followed, with Dumfries defending well, and then Dumfries hit back with some smart attacking work from their dangerous back line.

They were nearly over the line but West successfully defended a Dumfries maul on the line and cleared.

West then won a penalty just within range and Smith again converted to increase the lead to 6-0.

Dumfries hit back straight away with smart passing moves. They were initially defended but the the visitors found an overlap for full-back Kenny Henderson to score out wide.

The conversion was missed and half-time came up with West still ahead 6-5.

Straight after the break West pushed hard and an excellent break from Fraser Smeaton led to a kick chase, Dumfries booting it over the dead ball line to give West a scrum 5.

Dumfries were then penalised twice, West taking the tap and picking and driving until Angus Thomson broke the defence to score.

The conversion was narrowly missed but West now had breathing space at 11-5.

West were playing high tempo rugby at this point and really rattling Dumfries.

A penalty was missed, but West were hardly allowing Dumfries out of their own half, their good defence making it the irresistable force against the impassable object.

Smith then scored with another penalty to move West beyond converted try range at 14-5 before the last nervy five minutes.

Both sides knew the season was probably on the line and effort levels were high. But stout West defence plus Dumfries forcing things a bit too hard led to errors and West calmly closed out the game.

The win, following possibly West’s best performance of the season, put them six points clear with three games to play and they were piped off to a standing ovation after a superb advertisement for the club game.