Narrow victory for rugby team in basement battle
EAST Kilbride Rugby Club proved to be the slightly better side in a turgid encounter on Saturday which had relegation struggle written all over it.
And whilst the match was devoid of entertainment, the result at least ensured that EK will finish above their visitors, thereby significantly improving their chances of staying up.
Player-coach Fraser Stott made a number of significant changes to the side following last week’s poor display at Edinburgh University.
Euan Perrie was given a first competitive start at prop, while fellow second 11 stalwart JB Timmons was also rewarded for his recent run of good form with promotion to a spot in the back row.
The biggest talking point though was the stand-off jersey being handed to hooker Bert Blackwood. The youngest of June Blackwood's boys has already demonstrated his flexibility this season in turning out at both flanker and number eight, in addition to his front-row duties.
A move to the backs, though, was a whole new playbook to be learned but it would be grossly unfair to place the blame for a poor EK performance on his broad shoulders.
In truth, the shuffling of the side and a couple of hard training sessions brought little improvement on last week's appalling show.
Against a stuffy Preston Lodge pack, East Kilbride struggled to dominate and any ball which they did produce was wasted by a backline that looked flat in both attitude and alignment. Throughout the side, simplicity was eschewed and moves which were ill-suited to the flow of the game were attempted.
The only time the EK pack ran through their setplays an easy score came the way of Paul Rosie. Unfortunately, this was the exception, and the second Preston try, scored late in the game, better illustrated the afternoon malaise.
What should have been a straightforward training-ground play fell apart when Callum Simpson's scoring pass ran along the ground toward Duck MacDonald.
Despite being the smallest man on the park, and therefore closest to the ground, the little winger forsook falling on the ball, and instead attempted to flip it to the supporting Scott Shankie, but found his opposite number, who went 80 yards to score.
Fortunately, the conversion was missed and EK held on to win.
The sporting adage that a win is a win is certainly true. Preston Lodge had to win to stay up and therefore had a little more to play for, and were able to drag EK down to their level.
Unfortunately, EK are not clicking at the moment, and Preston did not have to drag them very far. If EK play as badly as this on Saturday, when they visit unbeaten league leaders Howe of Fife, then it could be painful.
However, in recent seasons East Kilbride have tended to produce their best when it is least expected, such as when they handed Falkirk their first loss in five years last season.
Team: 1. Miller, 2. Aitken, 3. Perrie, 4. Dalgleish, 5. P Rosie, 6. Anderson, 7. Timmons, 8. Bruce, 9. Stott, 10. B. Blackwood, 11. O'Rogers, 12. Seymour, 13. Simpson, 14. MacDonald, 15. Little. Replacements, all used: Watt, D Rosie, Shankie.
l Elsewhere, the reserves turned full circle after last week’s outstanding display at home to Marr when they put in their poorest performance of the season, going down 18-15 at Cumbernauld.
The Glasgow and District side had a big and gnarly, if limited, pack, but EK bizarrely chose to take them on up front, instead of shifting the ball wide, and despite winning the try count 3-2, lost the game.
Whilst he was by no means the worst man on the park, EK stand-off Rob Greenfield picked the wrong day to kick badly, failing to convert either his own try, or those from Chris Quinn and Ian Stevenson.
However, there was good news for the club this week when Glasgow announced their junior squads for the forthcoming district championships, with EK having a healthy representation.
At under-18 level, Gareth Jones and Denis Aitken will start up front, with Stevie Turnbull at scrum-half, whilst the under-17 squad contains Fraser Watt, Craig Ferguson, Sam Brown, Rob Greenfield and Scott Shankie, with Andy Kampman in the under-16s.