So near yet so far for Argyll and Bute

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Hyndland 28
Argyll and Bute 26
BT West Division Four

Argyll and Bute RFC kicked off 2017 with an away game to Hyndland RFC last Saturday at Scotstoun Stadium, home of the Glasgow Warriors.

Argyll had a strong squad of 16 players for the game and could have had a larger squad if it had not been for a couple of last minute call offs. The average age of the 16 man squad was a very youthful 23 years of age with allot of pace throughout the team compensating for size and match experience.

With Argyll having a lack of front row players available for the fixture the match was played out with uncontested scrums.

Hyndland started well and gained some good field position with Argyll giving away some silly penalties at the breakdown. The hosts used their forward power to their advantage by powering over the line for an early 5-0 lead.

The hosts pressed again to extend their lead but Argyll hit back by turning over the ball and using their fast backline to stretch the home defence.

Argyll forward Andy Fielding from Bute RFC impressed with some dangerous runs early on  with a superb offload to 17 year old fullback, Alex Houston creating the first try of the day for Argyll and Houston’s first ever senior rugby try. A successful conversion from Stand Off Ben McNiven gave Argyll a 7-5 lead.

Hyndland regained possession from the restart as Argyll failed to keep hold of the ball in what was to be a repetitive pattern of play over the course of the game. Argyll extended their lead as Hyndland threw an interception deep in their own half to Argyll’s most dangerous runner, Winger Alex Maslakovics who raced clear to score out wide bringing the score to 12-5.

At this stage Argyll were the much better team with the ball in hand but were being undone with a poor lineout and still giving away needless penalties at the breakdown. Despite this Argyll again managed to gain some good field position allowing Centre Steven Parr to crash over for Argyll’s third try of the day taking the score to 19-5.

A stunned Hyndland were unlucky not to respond immediately as they stole the ball from the kick off and knocked the ball on at the tryline. A try did some soon after, again from close range to narrow the lead to 19-10.

Just as the home side looked to get back into the game Argyll secured a bonus point fourth try with the last play of the half. Argyll turned the ball over in the Hyndland half where the ball found Andy Fielding who raced over the line unopposed to score an easy try.

At halftime the score stood as 26-10 to Argyll & Bute.

Into the second half Hyndland went back to their forward dominated style of play with a series of pick and go’s from the base of the ruck puling in the tiring Argyll defence. 10 minutes of constant pressure on the Argyll try line eventually brought  another try from the hosts bringing them right back into the game at 26-17.

Hyndland almost totally dominated territory and possession in the second half with Argyll failing to keep their hands on the ball and create any scoring chances of note. Referee David Stark was handing the game extremely well and did his best to keep the flow of the game going.

Another sustained period of pressure from the hosts battered the smaller and now tired away defence who eventually were breached to concede Hyndland’s fourth try of the game. This brought the score to 26-22 in Argyll’s favour with only 10 minutes remaining.

Again Hyndland piled forward with their heavy pack in the closing stages and pressed for a winning try. Rather than pressing hard for the winning score the Hyndland Stand Off elected for a drop goal attempt with five minutes remaining to narrow the score to just one point.

The home side threw everything at Argyll and Bute in the last few minutes. Despite Argyll regaining possession on three occasions the visitors failed to clear their lines allowing Hyndland to seal a last gasp 28-26 win with another well taken drop goal.

Argyll were left disappointed with losing the game but had played extremely well against a much more experienced and larger side. On another day Hyndland could have won the game by a bigger margin with the vast amount of pressure they possessed near the tryline.

The effort and character of the Argyll team bodes well for future games this season with the team having a break of three weeks until their next match on Saturday 28th of January where they take on Loch Lomond RFC away in the BT West Regional Bowl. Argyll’s next league fixture is away to local rivals Cowal RFC on Saturday February 11.