STRATHAVEN Rugby Club lost out to second-in-the-league Oban in a rearranged fixture at the weekend.
A difficult task was made very much harder with six regular starting players unable to play.
To the credit of the 16 players that travelled, including the aging, unfit coach and a 16-year-old making his first-team debut, what followed was in patches some excellent attacking rugby against a very robust, physical team.
Oban put the first points on the board when a defensive error allowed them to score between the posts.
Strathaven responded with two well-taken penalties from the boot of Gordon Howatson.
Some slack handling allowed Oban to attack from a five-metre scrum on the Strathaven line and the men from Oban scored from a well-worked back-row move.
Strathaven responded superbly with a flowing move that started deep in their own half. The excellent James Coe getting on the end of some lovely rugby to score in the corner.
With Strathaven then on the attack looking likely to score with an overlap, the Oban winger intercepted the ball and ran from the halfway line to score between the posts.
This was very unlucky for Strathaven. Oban pushed on at this point and some slack tackling allowed them to score before half-time to make the score 28-11.
Most of the rugby in the second period was played deep in the Oban half with Strathaven having numerous chances to score. Every time the visiting players went forward and kept the ball alive they looked dangerous and made ground.
Unbelievably, with Strathaven again looking likely to score with an overlap the same winger intercepted the ball again and ran the length of the park to score between the posts.
Injuries to two Strathaven players at this point effectively finished the game as a contest. The lack of squad depth on the day eventually caught up with them.
However, it was Strathaven that again scored another lovely long-range try that was the result of some fine handling by forwards and backs alike. This time the impressive, ever-improving Gordon Howatson was the supporting player on hand to score near the posts.
Oban scored a further two tries from deep in their own half as a result of the walking Strathaven wounded.
So the try scorers for Strathaven were Coe and Howatson. Howatson kicked two penalties and a conversion. The final score was 45-18 in favour of Oban but the score certainly didn't reflect the game.
Overall this was a good performance from an inexperienced, very young Strathaven team that will only get better as they age.
But for some individual errors, bad decision making at crucial times and downright bad luck, Strathaven would have scored a lot more points and the game would have been very close.
Man of the match for Strathaven was 16-year-old Harris Douglas who was making his first-team debut. Harris was excellent in the line out and the loose.
A special word must go to the referee who had a fantastic game in difficult circumstances.
Next week Strathaven play their last away game of the season at Cumnock in an important league game and the club are hopeful for another big away support. The kick-off is 3pm.
Everyone associated with the club especially the players would like to thank the club sponsors and supporters for their continued encouragement and support. It is very much appreciated.