Lasswade boost hopes of avoiding relegation

Lasswade 63-7 Greenock Wanderers
Lasswade 63-7 Greenock Wanderers

With zero wins and minus two league points because of a failure to fulfil a fixture, the odds against Greenock Wanderers avoiding relegation were similar to those for winning the lottery.

It fell to Lasswade, themselves staring relegation in the face, to put Wanderers’ fate beyond any doubt and they did it emphatically, ruthlessly and in some style.

With a firm pitch, a dry day and with the marker flags near motionless, conditions were almost perfect for open handling rugby and that is just what the hosts delivered.

Billingham took nothing for granted in the early exchanges and when the first kickable penalty was offered after just six minutes he asked Smith to convert it.

Just six further minutes later it was Lasswade’s old faithful of a short-range catch and drive that brought up the first of ten tries, this one finished off by Dougie Hearn.

Greenock’s restart was safely gathered and moved swiftly to Dave Hall on the left wing who rounded his marker to take it into the visitors’ 22. Brought to a halt there, Billingham was on hand for the offload and a grounding between the posts for a simple conversion by Smith.

Lasswade kept up the pressure and the second quarter had barely started before Dougie Hearn benefited from another catch and drive to claim his second try.

From this restart, Greenock made their first and only successful assault on the home line. From a lineout 15 metres out, they recycled the ball to Frizzell on a good angle to dance over the line and Diffenthal added the two.

The home side needed just five more minutes to make up for this reverse and bring up the fourth bonus-point score.

Turning over a ruck on the halfway line, the ball was worked to Andy Hall on the right wing to dice with the touchline from 30 metres out and then round under the posts. Smith’s conversion made it 27-7 which carried through to half-time.

Lasswade needed just four minutes of the second period to extend the lead further when Hunter controlled the ball at the base of a pushover scrum to add another five points.

On the 15th minute Dave Hall safely gathered a poorly directed clearance on halfway and brushed off several tackles to make it into the 22 where Wilson was in close support to finish off near the posts and another Smith conversion followed.

Just five minutes later Black darted in from the base of a ruck and on the 65th minute White’s anticipation allowed him to intercept an attempted Greenock break out from their 22 for an easy stroll to the line for another converted try and a point over the half century.

Showing no mercy, the onslaught continued and with eight minutes to go James Elliot barged through to the line for another seven and in the last minute of the game, a deft grubber kick by White was chased and grounded by Black to round off the score at 63-7.

It would be easy to attribute this victory to the weakness of the opposition but it is the third largest score inflicted on Greenock this season and the Lasswade XV gave glimpses of the skill, fluency and support play that won them promotion last season.

Whether this upturn can be maintained or is already too late will only become apparent as the remainder of the season unfolds and Lasswade’s fate will mostly be decided by other teams’ fortunes. In the meantime this result lifts them to third from bottom and confirms that they are not yet done for.

On Saturday, Lasswade travel to sixth-placed Kirkcaldy where they can expect a much harder encounter. Kick-off 3pm.