GREENOCK Wanderers put in a spirited display on Saturday and were unfortunate to lose in a closely fought affair against Cartha at Fort Matilda.

President John McDougall had a question and answer session with head coach Graeme Knox and captain Murray MacDonald at the pre-match lunch where the audience of nearly 100 heard how upbeat the players and coaches still are.

Captain MacDonald said that he was confident that the team will stay in National Two and that if they can keep training as hard as they are the results will come.

Coach Knox, when asked about the game against Cartha, said that if the Greenock front five competed against their counterparts Wanderers would be in with a good chance of winning.

He was absolutely correct. Greenock’s front five of Paton, Alexander, MacDonald, Gray and Abernethy all put in a tremendous shift and it laid the foundation for a Wanderers’ performance that deserved a victory.

Wanderers started brightly and had most of the play for the first 10 minutes.

However, it was Cartha that opened the scoring in their first visit to the Greenock 22.

The ball was moved wide but good Greenock cover defence stopped them 10 metres short but from the resultant maul Cartha’s blindside flanker Wicks drove over for a try which was converted by Docherty to give the visitors a 7–0 lead.

The game over the next 10 minutes was evenly balanced.

On the 20-minute mark a strong run by Frizzle took Greenock into the opposition half where Cartha were penalised for handling in the ruck.

Wanderers kicked to the corner where they won the lineout and spun it wide only for Cartha again to be penalised for being offside.

Diffenthal converted the penalty to make the score 3–7. Five minutes later it was Greenock who transgressed, giving away a penalty for a high tackle 35 metres out.

Cartha kicked to the corner and from the lineout spun the ball wide for their full-back Scott to score in the corner, thus extending the visitors’ lead to 3-12.

Unfortunately Harrison picked up an injury and Greenock lost the talented youngster. Number eight Lavelle moved to centre and Lyons came on to the back row. Greenock kept pressing and got their reward in the last move of the half.

A great run from Tyley was stopped five metres short of the line but from the ruck Ward picked up the ball and dived over for the try.

Diffenthal converted to take the Greenock side into the break just two points adrift at 10–12.

The second half started with both sides trying to get the upper hand, but they were both giving away penalties after working hard to get in the opposition half and therefore letting the defending side clear.

On 55 minutes a quick penalty was taken by McDougall and he gained about 20 metres before being tackled.

Good support play by Abernethy, Love and Ward enabled recycled ball.

Lavelle again bashed the ball up the middle but Cartha turned it over and cleared their lines.

With only 10 minutes left Greenock kept pressing and drove up the park to the Cartha 22 where McCarron was tackled.

A ruck formed and there seemed no danger to Cartha, but Gray suddenly pounced on the ball that had squirmed out and ran in unopposed from 20 metres to dive in under the posts for a try.

Diffenthal converted to put Greenock ahead 17–12 and the Wanderers supporters were delirious, thinking that elusive victory might just be about to happen.

However, it was not to be.

With only five minutes left Cartha moved the ball wide and pacey winger Docherty dodged round his opposite man and ran 40 metres to score under the posts.

He converted the try himself to make the score 17–19.

Cartha held out for the last few minutes and won by the narrowest of margins.

The Wanderers players were gutted but they should take great heart from a strong performance and there is no doubt if they can play like this every week they will survive in this league. Wanderers’ major sponsor is Texas Instruments.