MENS 1ST bt SHIeLD RUN ENDS EARLY
If Greenock Wanderers new management team of president John Black and vice-president Steven Haldane were in any way unclear about the size of the task they face in returning the locals to former glories then they are all too well aware now.
Wanderers were knocked out of the British Telecom sponsored West Regional Shield competition in the first round on Saturday by regional division two side Cumnock who were good value for their victory and deserved to take the spoils after an entertaining 80 minutes.
From Wanderers perspective, although a disappointing result, it was a worthwhile exercise as it gave both the management and coaching team a flavour of what lies ahead and of the amount of work that requires to be done to compete in regional club rugby.
In truth key figures Black, Haldane, head coach Iain Forster and skipper Dougie McIntyre have walked into their respective challenges this season with their eyes wide open. They are all respected rugby practitioners experienced at operating at levels well above where the locals are currently performing and there is little doubt that progress will be made in due course.
The story of the match was one where the smaller lighter hosts defended stoutly in the early stages before taking control of the game with their superior fitness particularly in the second half.
They edged the forward battle and won the tight head count by securing two strikes against the head. The home lineout also functioned well and it was their dominance up front that laid the foundation for this victory.
It was Wanderers though who opened the scoring on 20 minutes much against the run of play but the seven point lead only lasted a few moments.
A penalty award went the way of Cumnock straight from the restart and captain Jack Reilly slotted from central midfield to reduce the deficit to four points.
With the Ayrshire side on the ascendancy it was no surprise when they took the lead shortly thereafter. Some sustained pressure close to the Wanderers line led to second row Stephen Robson
latching onto loose ball and he powered over from short range. Reilly’s conversion put the hosts 10-7 ahead.
A Greenock penalty on the stroke of half-time levelled the scores but it was Cumnock who seized the initiative in the second period.
Another Reilly penalty soon after the restart restored Cumnock’s lead and on the hour mark home scrum-half Scott McCall sniped over from a few metres out after Wanderers had done well to repel raid after raid on their goal line. The conversion was missed but having extended their lead to 18-10 the hosts now had their tails up.
The men from Broomfield made sure of victory near to the end when winger Connor Hill intercepted a wayward Wanderers pass and sped in under the posts. Reilly completed the scoring with his final salvo of the afternoon.
Vice president Haldane, who took the time to magnanimously praise the gritty performance of the victors, said “We are naturally disappointed but I have said that the first few weeks of the season will be a steep learning curve and that is what we experienced here today”. “The club is on a journey and it may well be three steps forward and two steps back at times and I
am sure there will be plenty of bends and bumps in the road throughout the rest of the season but we are focused on instilling in the players the first principles of competitive rugby which is preparing well, competing well and responding positively to whatever result we achieve on any given Saturday”
Wanderers open their league campaign next week with a home match against Cambuslang at Fort Matilda.
Photo credit goes to GBR Photography. Click on the link to see more photos.