West 29 Preston Lodge 12: West weather storm to take win

Robbie Greenhalgh breaks through the defence and heads for the try-line  (pic by John Cameron).
Robbie Greenhalgh breaks through the defence and heads for the try-line (pic by John Cameron).

West of Scotland were 29-12 winners over Preston Lodge in their BT National League Division 2 clash at a sodden Burnbrae on Saturday.

Torrential rain during the latter part of the first half and well into the second half saw the 30 men on the field looking more like drowned rats than rugby players. It is testament to their resilience that some good rugby was still on show.

Splash down! Gareth Hopkins surfs the try-line to gain Wests bonus point (pic by John Cameron)

Splash down! Gareth Hopkins surfs the try-line to gain Wests bonus point (pic by John Cameron)

Intending to put the previous week’s defeat at Howe of Fife behind them, West started well, driving and passing with accuracy - only finally being held up between the Preston Lodge posts.

Unfortunately the resulting attacking scrum was poor and the visitors were able to clear.

However West got the scoreboard moving in their favour after 15 minutes when speedster winger Robbie Greenhaugh outpaced the PL defence from his own half to score, centre Pete Burns converting.

Preston Lodge came back at West, winning a number of scrums and line-outs, but it was the home side who broke free with Greenhaugh kicking ahead and almost winning the race to the line.

This relief for PL was short-lived however as they gave away a penalty which West put to touch then drove over the line to score, hooker Stefan Birkmyre touching down. An excellent conversion from out wide by Burns took the score to 14–0.

For the remainder of the half it was the visitors who had the advantage with West seemingly getting on the wrong side of the referee, conceding a number of penalties and allowing PL to move up the field.

Finally they drove over the home line, with second row Jonny Sked touching down. The conversion was missed and by this time the avalanche of rain meant that everybody was glad to hear the half-time whistle with West leading 14-5.

The dreadful conditions continued during the first 20 minutes of the second half and, with the ball like a bar of soap, handling errors increased.

A penalty conversion by Burns increased the West lead and this was further added to when winger Mark Davis ghosted through the visitors’ defence with deceptive ease to score, Burns converting.

Another break by Davis saw the ball kicked forward but this time it was Preston Lodge centre Blair Robertson who retrieved the ball and had the pace to outrun the West defence and score a try converted by their stand-off Brian Wallis.

West knew that the four-try bonus point was in sight and just before full-time it was achieved as Davis had another good break and excellent passing despite the conditions saw replacement Gareth Hopkins run in the try. The conversion was missed but it was a good bonus win by West.

This Saturday West travel to Peebles hoping for their first away win, kick-off 3pm.