GREENOCK Wanderers faced league leaders Lasswade at Hawthornden for the first of the second round matches in this year’s campaign.

Lasswade won the first encounter 36-7 at Fort Matilda in the opening game of the season back in September and since then have gone on to win all eight of their matches played.

In the league, so far this season, only West of Scotland have managed to complete the full nine first round matches.

Of the remaining teams, all have failed to play at least one of their scheduled games and in the case of Ardrossan, four, due principally to Covid but also the weather.

This left Greenock at the turn having played seven games with only one win against Ardrossan and sitting second bottom in the league.

Despite the scoreline, Wanderers can be very proud of the performance on Saturday.

With several first-choice players absent due to injury and/or availability, Greenock travelled with an understrength side missing key individuals and this saw a number of backs, particularly, having to play out of position.

Once again, the Greenock pack was easily the stronger in the scrum and what the backs lacked in penetration, they made up for with honest endeavour, conviction and no little sense of ambition.

Kicking off with a strong wind behind them in the first half, Greenock didn't manage to successfully pin Lasswade down in their half.

Within three minutes, Lasswade had broken free and run in their first try, which went unconverted. Lasswade then dominated play although Wanderers managed to thwart many of their moves with good defensive work by backs and forwards alike.

The pack produced regular scrum ball from the breakdown which Greenock made good use of but the opposition backs disrupted the majority of their moves.

Unfortunately, having won possession and kicked deep into the opposition’s half, Greenock then didn't win enough good lineout ball to put pressure on Lasswade’s try-line.

All too often, the hosts took advantage and worked the ball back into Greenock’s half.

Lasswade’s backs were slick, linked well with their heavy mobile forwards in the loose and capitalised on any errors by the locals.

As the half progressed, Lasswade made a number of breaks and a further two tries were scored, of which one was converted.

Given the conditions, 17-0 down at half-time seemed ominous but such was the defensive performance by Greenock that it took 20 minutes before Lasswade got another score and secured the bonus.

Thanks to the dominance of the Greenock scrum together with strong drives by the pack in the loose and a gritty determination to deny Lasswade possession, Wanderers then had their best spell in the game, pressing the Lasswade line for some time and they were desperately unlucky not to receive any reward.

Breakouts and big kicks meant Greenock were having to start time and again from close to their own line, which they did valiantly. With less than 10 minutes to go, Lasswade then scored two more tries and it ended 38-0 but the score flatters to deceive.

Many other teams would have shipped 80 points in these conditions. It is a huge credit to the whole unit that Wanderers contained Lasswade to under 40.

Play like this for the rest of the season and Wanderers will win games. No shame in this performance at all, Greenock played well against the deserved league leaders.

l Greenock Wanderers are sponsored by MM Search.