On Saturday, West of Scotland defeated Ardrossan Academicals and the Ayrshire gales to return home with a try bonus point victory.
West kicked off with the advantage of a very strong wind which was blowing straight down the pitch, reports Gordon Cairns.
It was going to be difficult to play against and, with the elements, West took the lead in the 12th minute.
Left wing Nick Sutcliffe angled his run with perfect timing to take the ball into the home 22. It went right to fellow wing Callum McCormack, who scored in the corner. Nicholson’s conversion was outstanding in such conditions.
West’s main problem up to this point was breaking the offside line. Repeated infringements eventually saw No 8 John Vasconcelos receive the ‘team’ yellow. The latest offence also gave Ardrossan a penalty five metres from the West line.
On another day, they may have settled for the three points but decided to go for the try. Solid defence by West defied their opponents through a number of phases before they eventually cleared their lines.
They got their reward when, still down to fourteen men, they drove the home pack 20 metres to their own line. Ardrossan collapsed the maul and a penalty try was awarded.
A narrow 14-point lead would have given West concerns for the second half, facing the wind. Gifting Ardrossan a try right on the half-time whistle made matters worse.
A loose pass in the West 22 was picked up by the Ardrossan stand-off Stuart Lewis, who scored. It was 5-14 at half-time and West had a battle on their hands.
On the restart, it was soon 8-14, with Lewis converting a simple penalty. The home side moved into the lead after 57 minutes, through scrum half Bruce Hunter scoring from a tap penalty and Lewis converting to put his side ahead.
However, the West heads did not go down and, five minutes later, tremendous work by the West forwards, recycling the ball in the face of terrific Ardrossan defence, eventually saw Dan York take a pop-up pass from Nicholson to put the Burnbrae men ahead again. Nicholson’s conversion extended the lead to 15-21.
Another Lewis penalty narrowed the gap but, with just under 10 minutes left, York secured the win and the try bonus point. From a scrum 10 metres out, Vasconcelos picked up, with York taking his pass to go over for his second try. The match finished 18-28.
This was a fine win in dreadful conditions against a much stronger Ardrossan side than that which visited Burnbrae at the start of the season.
With a two-week break because of the Murrayfield internationals, the players will be able to recharge their batteries before facing the second half of the season.
West of Scotland Ladies 17, Stewartry Sirens 20
West Ladies went down to a disappointing defeat to Stewartry Sirens at Burnbrae on Sunday.
The home side took an early lead through skipper Eilidh Power, her try being converted by Ailsa Smith.
West totally dominated the opening 10 minutes, with their opponents getting next to no possession. When they eventually did, their large pack made it count, with No 8 Clare Barnes the scorer.
Lock Alex Watson, with one of her familiar powerful breaks, extended West’s lead to 12-5 midway through the half.
The visitors narrowed the gap again just before the half hour through full back Hannah Sainsbury but, at half time, West led 12-10.
Centre Jade Scott quickly extended her side’s lead to 17-10 and they remained on top but failed to break down the strong Stewartry defence.
With 15 minutes to go, the Ayrshire side moved to within two points through a try from loosehead Lizzie Ballentine.
West looked like they would hold on for the win but, with just five minutes remaining, Stewartry took the win and the try bonus point.
West pounded the line in the remaining minutes but it was not to be their day.