Bishopton – 39
Tries; Ruari Taylor (2), Boab Moore, Kyle Haldane, Ryan Moore
Conversion; Max Catto (4)
Penalty; Max Catto (2)
Lochaber – 12
Having managed to secure a demanding 51 -12 victory over Hyndland on the opening weekend of the season the Bishopton first XV were in high spirits at training in the run up to their match with Lochaber for the second matchday round. As this match would be key in the fight for who would be taking an early command of the top of the league with Lochaber currently sitting top having romped to the top the previous week with a commanding 59-0 triumph over Moffat.
As the kick off approached there were some minor changes to be made to the Bishopton starting line up with Club Captain Bruce Abernethy dropping from the starting line up to the bench as he had not been able to shake an injury that had kept him out the previous week. A reshuffle of the pack meant that Kyle Haldane moved forward into the Second Row and Ryan Moore came in at Flanker. The duty of captain for the day reverted to Back Row Harry Seymour who lead the team last week for the first time in a memorable victory and he was wanting to keep his 100% record as a winning Captain. With the coin toss completed the first kick of the ball was decided with Lochaber to receive from the Bish.
Max Catto stepped up to get the game started, sending the ball to the heavens allowing his back row and wingers to head off on the hunt of the Lochaber player that stepped up to take the ball. With the Bishopton players hungry for the ball the Lochaber player went to deck and the penalty was quickly awarded to Bish for the ball not being released. Bishopton opted early on to test the Lochaber scrum, and like last week they were dominant – pushing the Lochaber pack back several meters before Seymour opted to pick and go from No. 8. With the ball quickly going into the centres you could see that the Bish were here to play the running game.
Multiple strong phases followed before Lochaber were able to absorb the pressure and were awarded a penalty kicked to touch for the line out managing to hit halfway. After securing their own line out Lochaber were able to play a bit of rugby themselves racking up several phases and working their way into the Bish 22 with some well-cut lines. However, they were not making much progress past the 22 until a well-placed chip over the bishopton line came and from this they were able to win the scrum. Once again, their scrum was no match for that of the Bish as they were driven off the ball once again and the now Bish ball was launched up the pitch by Catto at Stand Off. Unfortunately, the kick was caught clean and Lochaber were on the counter straight off the back off it working the ball across there midfield very quickly and being able to draw the penalty in the Bish half as the tackler was not releasing. Again, they chose to go for the lineout that had worked so well before. From the lineout they managed to spin the ball wide and after hitting a couple of rucks one of which was right on the try line, the brave Lochaber player that arrived at the back played the dummy pass off the ruck and then launched himself over the top to score the first points of the day. The difficult conversion attempt was pulled across the face of the posts. 0-5 to Lochaber.
Bish are not a team that are willing to sit back and take a knock against them, as was seen last week and this week was no different as they were able to retrieve the cleverly disguised kick by Max Catto that quickly bobbled over the 10. From here Bish went on the march towards the posts, once inside the 22 the penalty that had been coming for some phases was awarded by the referee. Catto stepped up and composed as always when the tee is in front of him – slotting the kick straight through the up rights. The Bish were back in the hunt. 3-5 Lochaber.
The battle of back and forth rugby soon began with the score so close and with his kicking game on point Catto was able to find holes in the Lochaber back field and was exploiting this with deep kicks there when under pressure, pushing the opposition back and having to realign in order to counter the new-found possession. With their strong runners Lochaber were more than capable of being able to do this and in doing so were able to gain some strong territory back up the field. Before gaining a scrum inside their own 22. At this point Lochaber knew that they are not going to be able to stand up to the Bish scrum and they work it in and out very quickly as they started to be pushed back. Although this tactic had worked at previous scrums it was shown that in quick ball play you need to be aware of your direct surroundings… as the Lochaber Scrum Half spun the ball out to his Stand Off Bishopton Scrum Half Ruari Taylor – returning after missing last week’s opener – was sitting in wait and channelling his inner Artful Dodger being quick of the mark and delicately intercepting the valuable ball from between the Lochaber Half Backs. Having anticipated that they were on the move forward the Lochaber players could not but stand and watch as Taylor sprinted in before diving between the posts for the 5 points. With Catto adding the extras Bishopton took the lead at 10-5.
Now Bishopton were starting to move through the gears changing the pace of the game as they saw fit. It wasn’t long before Lock Kyle Haldane thought that he was in for his maiden try. Ryan Moore operating on the Back Row was shipped the ball and was able to show the Lochaber defence just how effective a light-footed back row can be. With several sidesteps and hand offs gaining himself a good 10 meters before popping the ball to Haldane who was on his shoulder to slide over the line only for the Referee to dcide the ball had gone forward.
After several Lochaber scrums on their own 5-meter line Bishopton were able to push one over and take back control of the ball, after working it out to the backs who were being denied by the Lochaber defence the heavy artillery was called. In the form of the forwards. And the structure of attacking rugby here by the forwards was devastating. The first crash ball 5 meters out coming from Back Row Chris Lee, being stopped mere feet from the try line that he was able to cross from the same position last week. The 2nd round of fire came in the form of the larger Second Row Haldane again Lochaber were able to stop inches short for his first try yet once again it was seeming that today was not going to be the day for him. Having seen off two huge crashes so far, the Lochaber line would have not wanted to have seen Prop Boab Moore receive the ball from 7 meters out. Having seen him coming 5 men exploded off the line to stop him but were not able to as he got his body low and drove over to open his account for the year. The kick from Catto was not to be as the post had its say in swatting it away. 15-5 Bishopton.
Moving towards the end of the half there was again a lot of rugby being played with highballs being put into space and the teams trading territory. But the final score of the half came in the form of a penalty to Bishopton being right in front of the posts Catto took the 3. Giving Bish a Half Time lead of 18-5.
For Bishopton the Second half started very strongly. With Chris Lee rolling back the years and showing the younger forwards how to play. As he received the ball from the kick off and was off up the field with his support in tow. After making the best part of 40 meters the Lochaber defence were finally able to bring him down, giving away the scrum in the process by entering from the side. Once again Ruari Taylor showed just how the Artful Dodger was so artful, but rather than picking a Lochaber pocket this time he was showing off his skills of misdirection. By looking to throw the long pass out to the backs before taking advantage of the mismatch on the blindside and cantering in for his second try of the day again from about 20 meters. Catto added the extras. 25-5 Bishopton.
Lochaber started to put the pressure on Bish after that last try as they made their way up to the Bishopton 22 where they threatened for some time coming close where it not for Centre Ruaridh Catto being in the right place to intercept the last pass and get bishopton back on the attack. This resulted in a period of play where Bishopton went from wing to wing with their rugby building phase after phase. The key break through coming via Lock Alex Neil who popped up on the wing and blew through 15 meters before the pass to the backs was knocked on. Lochaber again under pressure in the scrum were forced into a quick kick that went directly into touch from here Bishopton took the lineout that was overthrown into the hands of Ryan Moore who again made ground by going around players rather than through them making his way to the 5m line. Where Bishopton would spend the next few minutes driving from the back of the rucks. From here the almost man of the day Kyle Haldane was able to get over the white wash for his first try for the club in what was a well-deserved effort. Catto added the extra two from right infront of the post once more. 32-5 Bishopton.
Having gained the bonus point Bishopton started to look to the bench and brought on a flurry of replacements in the form of Fullback Peter Rainey, Lock Patrick McReynolds and Club Captain Bruce Abernethy. All of whom made instant impacts with McReynolds receiving the Kick Off and taking the ball for a walk and putting in several hits before the end of the game. Rainey’s duty of keeping the defence tight at the back was clinical as he was able to cover several high balls and returning one which he followed up to meet his opposite number in a crunching tackle that could be heard from the opposite side of the pitch.
Bish having gotten back into within 10 meters of the Lochaber try line once again were looking to build the score up. Receiving the penalty, the quick tap was opted for Prop Alistair Doak, getting to with inches of his first of the season the ball was popped up to Ryan Moore was able to find his most important gap in the defense of the day giving him the try. Catto made the conversion once more. 39-5 Bishopton.
Moving into the last 5 minutes Lochaber seemed to be a different team as they refused to make the return journey home with only 5 points and they went in desperate search of the try line. And they were rewarded in doing so with a little bit of luck. Having knocked the ball on in a tackle Bish had the put in for the scrum that managed to poke its way out the opposite side. With the Lochaber flanker quickest to react and to kick on only for no one in the Bishopton ranks to be able to get onto it. One of the Lochaber backs was able to pounce and get the touch down.
But they were not finished here as they were revigorated at receiving the restart and hit straight back once more. Stretching the Bish defence. With the referee giving the shout for last play, Lochaber made the break for the corner having managed to work the 3 on 2 overlap. Once again Ruaridh Catto was the man to thank as he made yet another try saving interception, he was able to drop the ball to his boot in order to get enough on to it to see it out of the pitch and bring an end to the game.
With the game coming to its end Bishopton were able to walk off the field with their heads held high knowing that they would be going to the top of the table. Having had a strong game in scoring a try for himself and creating the space from his tireless breaks that allowed other tries to be created Ryan Moore was awarded the Man of the Match for his efforts.
Bishopton now move their sights to Moffat RFC next week who they will once again host at Holmpark bringing a close to the 3 match home streak that they have had before seeing themselves go on the road.