West of Scotland went down 34-18 at home to National League 3 leaders Greenock Wanderers on Saurday.
Greenock have been upgrading their team after winning promotion last year and were slick from the outset, with a lot of dummy runners and a high defensive line.
It paid dividends early when centre Jack Dale found a hole in the West defence, running in easily to score, converted by Andrew Guthrie.
West nearly scored but were held up over the line, and it was Greenock who scored next to increase their lead with a penalty from Guthrie.
Forward passes stopped two likely tries as West piled on the pressure. The West forwards were well on top with a strong scrum and driving maul.
Eventually the pressure told. West won two scrum penalties, converted by Sean Carden, the second from long range, and Greenock were looking rattled at 10-6.
But then Greenock no. 8 Matt Gray burst through against the run of play to score unconverted, and then a Greenock breakout from defence saw their winger Calum win the foot race to score in the corner, again unconverted to give them a 20-6 lead at half-time.
Greenock came out hard after the break, a passing move finding a gap in the centre. A West missed tackle didn’t help and the visitors notched up their bonus point try when Callum Harrison scored, Guthrie converting.
The visitors scored again with an overlap, Guthrie converting to make the score 34-6, unfair to West, who worked hard to get back into the match.
Scott Cochrane burst through the Greenock defence but the pass didn’t go to hand, and then a good passing move went through the hands to find John Vasconcelos who did score, Carden converting, to peg it back to 34-13.
Greenock were trying to score another try and were passing the ball about, but were risking interceptions, which Calum Booth duly delivered, running the length of the pitch to score. The conversion was missed.
If West can match the forward power with quality in the backs then this will be a good side but the day was Greenock’s. This Saturday West are away to Lasswade.