West of Scotland went down to a disappointing defeat in their first BT National Division 2 home match of 2018 at Burnbrae on Saturday.
The Milngavie side were up against a Howe of Fife side which has produced a lot of international players in recent years.
In wet conditions the West side was somewhat makeshift, especially in the pack, due to injuries.
Howe of Fife looked a classy team early on, but their initial attacks were foiled thanks to poor handling and good West defence.
They scored first though when they found an overlap and centre William Wardlaw scored in the corner, unconverted.
West were competing well and a good break from Gareth Hopkins nearly produced dividends. Another good break from Angus Thomson ended up in a West penalty which Pete Burns converted for a 5-3 scoreline.
Most of the first half was dominated by a competitive breakdown and strong defence from both sides, but West went in 6-5 up at the break after Burns converted another penalty.
Howe of Fife suffered a yellow card but West couldn’t capitalise, the visitors’ defence holding up. Perhaps the turning point was when West elected to kick to touch from a kickable penalty, but got no joy from the lineout.
The men from Auchtermuchty were the ones to capitalise, when an overlap found Ryan Milne in the corner. Then a comedy of errors from the West defence saw hooker Connor Crawford score the Fifers’ third and they led 15-6.
It still looked close until an excellent chip over the West defence from out half Fraser Ellison found centre Duncan McIntyre collecting to score Howe’s bonus point try.
Howe then found an overlap, winger and former West player Graham Thomson scoring and Ellison making his first kick for the conversion.
West tried but failed to peg the points back. In truth, the game was close until the final quarter, but it has been a long time since West failed to score a try, which shows how good the Howe defence was.