Promoted up to National 3 in 2018, Carrick seem to have run out of momentum in this, their second, season at this level having earned just a single loser’s bonus from their first seven games. By contrast Lasswade have halted their downward slide and have lost just two League games from eight and including a Cup tie have a run of four victories and are in touch with the leading group.
Lasswade kicked off down the slight slope on a soft pitch with rain looking a possibility but in the event it stayed away.
The hosts started the stronger side and within five minutes won a penalty in front of the posts and Fulton bagged the three points.
The next ten minutes were dominated by the visitors both territorially and possession. On the quarter hour a penalty to touch set up a short range line out which was at first contained by the home side but Matt Hart emerged with the ball from a collapsed maul on the line and spun out of tackles to touch down. Smith converted from wide out to make 3-7.
Honours were largely even for the next quarter hour especially up front but Lasswade looked the more cohesive and dangerous with the ball out wide.
With the half hour passed, Robertson broke down the tight side from a maul on half way and Wichary was on hand for the off-load. Wichary put a well weighted grubber towards the in goal area. Matt hart was in close support and just pipped the defence to the touchdown for his second try of the day, Smith was again on target with the conversion to set up the half time score of 3-14.
With the slight advantage of the slope Carrick had the better of the early exchanges of the second period but settled for a Fulton penalty after seven minutes.
Lasswade were the more attacking side thereafter with Jamie Graham standing out and earning Lasswade’s player of the match. However, Carrick prevented further scores and were the more adept at ripping ball in tackles and turnovers at the rucks and mauls. As their frustration and desperation mounted, not helped by a missed easy penalty, the game became a bit disorderly and unstructured on both sides.
With just 2 minutes of normal time left the hosts decided to secure at least the losers’ bonus when Lasswade were judged to have collapsed a maul in the shadow of their posts. Fulton‘s boot narrowed the gap to five points making for a tense last few minutes while Carrick threw everything at the Lasswade line but not enough to change the score line.
Given the statistics to date Lasswade might have hoped for a try bonus from this game. Without it they remain in fifth place but with Howe beating the league leaders, Greenock, and Ardrossan losing at Hillhead there is now just 3 points between Lasswade and the new leaders, Berwick.
This Saturday will produce more fireworks as Berwick welcome Ardrossan who are currently third and Lasswade are at home against a resurgent, second placed Howe of Fife. Kick-off 2pm.
West travelled to Lasswade having won only their first league game and then lost the next four. To underline their problems, they were only able to bring two replacements to this encounter instead of the permitted four.
For their part, Lasswade’s results to date are best described as “mixed” having won three, lost two. By contrast they have fielded much the same 19 players for the last few games and today their captain, Stephen Hunter returned to the fray having fully recovered from a leg injury.
Having won the toss Hunter opted to play into the stiff breeze from Rosewell which, with a firm pitch, was the only adverse element on a bright autumn afternoon.
West used that breeze to keep Lasswade in their own half for most of the first half and it helped Carden to slot two long range penalties to take his side six unanswered points ahead. Lasswade also made life hard from themselves by several times blindly offloading in tackles and ceding possession rather than setting the ball up.
Just five minutes of the first period remained when Lasswade opened their account. Having earned a short range lineout, Hunter took the ball on the burst in a rehearsed move through a gap created in the middle of the lineout and had his hooker, Moffat, on hand to take the offload and dive over on the corner to bring up the half time score of 5-6.
With the wind at their backs in the second half the home side took the lead within the first 3 minutes when they won their own lineout on ten metres from the visitor’s line and swung it out to the backs for Blair Smith to jink and drive his way to the posts and his namesake Matt Smith added the two points.
The lead only lasted two minutes when Carden collected the ball on halfway and jinked and swerved his way past some weak tackling all the way to the line and then converted his own try.
Showing better ball retention, Lasswade controlled territory and possession for the next ten minutes and then, from a line-out, Blair Smith floated a long pass to Lockhart. The left winger tip-toed down the touch line to ground in the corner but the conversion drifted wide.
In almost immediate reply Carden narrowed the lead to a point hosts with a fine kick of some thirty-five metres into the wind. That, though, was to be West’s last score.
With fifteen minutes to go, the Lasswade forwards drove over from a close range tap penalty with Cook touching down the bonus point try and Matt Smith converted to make it 24-16.
Although play remained mostly in West’s half for what was left of the game the only scoring opportunity was a penalty for not releasing the tackled player and Matt Smith duly added the three points with just two minutes left in the game.
Darren Tiffney collected Lasswade’s Player of the match, a feat all the more impressive as he came on as the hooker replacement at half time.
This Saturday Lasswade make the long haul to Thurso to take on Caithness who have only one win from five and that at home against Strathmore. Kick-off 2pm.
Berwick and Lasswade started this fixture with near identical statistics from their first four league games. For the first 30 minutes it looked as if it was going to stay that way. Lasswade scored after 10 minutes of being slightly on top and the half hour had passed before Berwick took the lead but after that things unravelled for the visitors as their hosts ran in four tries before the interval and three more in the second half to just one in reply.
Lasswade enjoyed some dominance of possession and territory in the early exchange but it was a counter attack from their own 22 started by Robertson and finished off by Coomb that opened the scoring with the conversion falling short.
Berwick came alive in the next twenty minutes closing up their defence and showing some strong running especially amongst their backs. It was their forwards though that opened their account with a catch and drive from a short range lineout touched down by Melrose and converted by Webster.
By not committing too many players to the breakdown, the Berwick side all too easily created overlaps for their speedy backs and tries followed for Trotter and Hill numbers 13 and 14
respectively and Melrose added the extra points for a fairly comfortable 21-5 half-time lead.
The second period began in much the same vein when Hindhaugh finished off a breakout that started in the home 22 followed a few minutes later by an attempted clearance being charged down in the Lasswade 22 and touched down by Hill again.
The visitors stemmed the flow and regained some pride in the last quarter hour when Andy Hall found space and chipped ahead for Wichary to win the chase and touch down under the posts for Smith to make it 31-12.
Virtually from the restart, Berwick restored their lead with a try from Gilchrist and a final conversion from Melrose.
This Saturday Lasswade welcome West of Scotland to Hawthornden. In the League Cup away trip at the start of the season Lasswade took the honours 14-61. The Milngavie based team have since lost the last four of the five league games to date. With added home advantage this is a must win for the hosts. Kick-off 3pm.
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