GREENOCK Wanderers eased their relegation worries on Saturday when they comprehensively beat fellow strugglers Haddington in a vitally important BT National League Division Two match at Fort Matilda.

The result effectively consigns the visitors to life in the third division next term and will be a big weight off the minds of Wanderers’ management team as they look to move forward and re-group ahead of next season’s campaign.

The nine tries to one victory in truth failed to do justice to the efforts of the East Lothian men who battled bravely throughout and enjoyed some decent spells of pressure. But they lacked penetration in the final third and that proved to be their undoing.

For Wanderers it was a fantastic 80 minutes as they dominated for the majority of the match.

The team in its entirety played well but several players posted personal performances of particular note.

Up front skipper Murray McDonald as usual led by example and he was ably assisted by Matt Gray, Ally Abernethy, Andy Love, Martin Lavelle and gnarled old warrior Donald Stone.

Andy McDougall and Callum Harrison intelligently pulled the strings at half-back and star performances were also delivered by Michael Frizzel, pictured, and Fraser Reid in central midfield.

Frizzel in particular had a fine afternoon with the boot and also chipped in with a brace of tries.

The locals started strongly and Frizzel got the scoreboard ticking over in the 10th minute with a penalty from close range.

Thereafter Wanderers quickly went through the gears and produced some fine continuity play involving both forwards and backs.

On 20 minutes winger Chris McCarron carried play down the right wing and as he was about to be bundled into touch he slipped a pass to scrum half McDougall who squirmed his way out of the tackle and over the line.

Two minutes later McCarron got on the scoresheet when he finished off a crisp handling move by breezing in at the corner and Frizzel’s conversion gave the Fort Matilda men a comfortable 15-point cushion.

Worse was to follow for the visitors as two more tries were conceded before half-time.

On 36 minutes Stone showed his piracy skills when he turned over ball close to the Haddington line and Abernethy was the beneficiary as he dotted down from close range and moments later a simple backs move created the space for hooker Stu’ Alexander to saunter in from 20 yards out.

Frizzel converted Abernethy’s try to give Wanderers a comfortable 27-0 lead at the break.

The second half was more of the same as the visitors stuck gamely to their task but they were powerless to stop Greenock recording five further tries.

The procession started in the 42nd minute when McDougall spread the play and Frizzel found the gap through the centre channel and sprinted 40 metres to score under the posts.

Skipper McDonald got in on the act a few minutes later when he barged over from short range and Frizzel’s two conversions stretched the lead to 41-0.

Thereafter Haddington enjoyed some possession and territorial advantage but could not convert possession into points.

On 71 minutes with the visitors in the ascendancy Frizzel pounced on a loose ball well inside his own half and broke out of defence to dot down under the posts.

At 48-0 the game was clearly over as a contest but Haddington showed their mettle and made ground with their tight rucking game.

On 78 minutes second row Gavin Stewart scored the consolation try their play deserved with a strong drive from three yards out.

Wanderers though were not finished yet and added two further tries in stoppage time.

Firstly Fraser Reid made the break and popped a pass to full-back Leigh Tyley to speed over from 20 metres out and in the last play of the game Reid himself scored the try his play warranted with another incisive break through the midfield channel. Frizzel’s conversion completed the scoring.

It was a satisfying display and victory for those of a Wanderers persuasion and, although the champagne corks were not exactly popping post match, it was a massive victory in terms of the relegation battle and one that meant the Fort Matilda men could breathe a huge collective sigh of relief.

President John McDougall said: “We are naturally delighted with the result and, although technically we are not mathematically safe from relegation, the victory gives us a massive advantage over the other teams in the lower reaches of the table.

“I thought the players did well and produced an efficient and effective performance that brought its own rewards.” Wanderers’ victory resulted in them leapfrogging Ardrossan into ninth place in the table with only five games remaining and barring any unforeseen ending to the season they will ply their trade in the second division again next term.

Greenock’s league programme continues next weekend when they head to head to Dumbreck Road in the south side of Glasgow to face Cartha Queens Park.

l Wanderers are sponsored by Texas Instruments.