Lochaber denied heroic victory by last-gasp Cowal try

LOCHABER V COWAL Daniel Thomas faces a wall of Cowal players as he nears their goal. PIcture Abrightside Photography

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Lochaber 26 – 33 Cowal

West Regional Division 3

A last-minute Cowal try denied Lochaber a dramatic result on Saturday as their heroic second half comeback fell just short.

Having been 26-0 down at half-time, Lochaber scored four tries without reply in the second half to level the match, however, with just minutes remaining, a last-gasp Cowal try dashed any hopes of what would have been a remarkable Lochaber victory.

Going into the match, Lochaber were missing several players in the backs for what was the team’s first fixture of 2019 and were forced to field a make-shift back line. It was no surprise then that Cowal started strongly and it didn’t take long until they got the first score of the game.

William Stewart fends off the Cowal defence. NO F02 LRFC Cowal 02. Photo: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

After Lochaber had initially kept Cowal out, a maul formed right under the posts from which Cowal’s hooker then peeled off the back of the maul to score. To add to the poor start, Lochaber were then reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes when Daniel Thomas received a yellow card for a high tackle.

The visitors were gifted their second try when two Lochaber players failed to deal with a high ball and the opposition wingers were able to capitalise to score. Cowal kept the pressure up and some poor tackling allowed for another break through the defensive line for a run in from 20 metres.

Lochaber finally started to get some possession and worked their way into Cowal’s 22. Just as Lochaber were starting to gain some momentum it quickly turned around and Cowal were able to make their way down the pitch to score their fourth try in the last play of the half to make it 0-26 at half time.

Lochaber’s John McKerlich runs into opposition. NO F02 LRFC Cowal 03. Photo: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos

After a frank half-time discussion, the match would turn on its head as Lochaber came out firing in the second half. Picking up the tempo and running direct lines, Cowal couldn’t cope with the intensity of Lochaber’s attacking play and just a few minutes into the second half Christopher Simpson crossed the line with Andrew Bell converting.

Lochaber and Simpson’s second try came after Lochaber were awarded after Simpson took a quick tap penalty five metres from the try-line. A dummy pass fooled the on-rushing Cowal defence, leaving a big hole for Simpson to score.

Cowal were then reduced to 14 men when one of their players was yellow carded for a high tackle which spurred on the home side to go chasing scores. And it didn’t take long until they got one after a well worked passage of play saw the ball passed to William Stewart who fended of the first tackle and offloaded the ball out of the next tackle to Alasdair Davidson who in turn offloaded to John MacKerlich who broke through the tackle to run in from 30 meters to score, with Bell converting again to make it 19-26.

The momentum remained with Lochaber and with around three minutes remaining they were awarded a penalty five metres out and once again it was Simpson who took a quick tap and got across the line. Bell converted to level the scores and secure a remarkable comeback. Cowal were again reduced to 14 men after a player swore at the ref after he awarded the try.

Lochaber received the ball from the restart and were starting to make their way up the pitch but in another twist lost the ball forward. Cowal were able to capitalise on the mistake and got the ball wide where they had a numbers advantage and their winger had the pace to beat Lochaber’s defence to make it 26-33 and secured the victory for the Cowal men.

Lochaber travel away to Shawlands on Saturday for a 2pm kick-off at Cartha Queens Park Rugby Club, Glasgow.