A LATE penalty ended Helensburgh's unbeaten start to their league campaign in Lanarkshire on Saturday as hosts Uddingston edged to a 25-24 win.

In what has been a worrying trend this season the Burgh boys started slowly again, finding themselves 12-0 down after 15 minutes; penalties put them on their own five-metre line, leading to Uddingston's first score, before a charged-down kick on the edge of the Helensburgh 22 bounced fortuitously to set up the hosts' second try.

Thankfully that woke the Greens up and – in what is also becoming a hallmark of their fortunes this season – they scored a great try out wide from David Rowney; the Burgh forwards set it up in the midfield, then it went through all the backs' hands for the pace man to run it in from 50 metres.

With a spring in their step, Burgh started to play with confidence and retain ball which led to another try, out wide again, this time on the right wing for full back James Collins to touch down in the corner and level the scores.

The rest of the first half was a scrappy affair, with neither team really settling, though Uddingston benefited from a couple of penalties in quick succession to get into the Helensburgh 22 before breaching what had been a strong defence until then to go into the break leading 19-12.

READ MORE: Helensburgh hit top form with six-try win over Paisley at Ardencaple

Burgh started the second half much better than the first and pressured the hosts from the off, eventually securing their reward in the form of a third try, again out wide, Sean Alton scoring his fourth in three games to make it 19-17.

At this stage Helensburgh looked well set to go on and dominate the game, but their penalty count crept up, keeping them away from the hosts' line and preventing them establishing any continuity before Uddingston won and converted a penalty to open up a five-point gap.

Helensburgh’s greater pace again got them out of trouble, though, and after a flowing move into the hosts' 22, the ball was worked wide once more and this time Conn Mundie touchhed down to level the match once more, Warren Smith's cool conversion giving the visitors the lead for the first time, 24-22, going into the last 10 minutes.

But the hosts weren't beaten, and managed to force their way into the Helensburgh 22 with three minutes remaining before the ref blew to penalise what most, at least in the Helensburgh camp, felt was a great tackle on an Uddingston second row.

READ MORE: Look how far we've come, says Helensburgh president – despite last-gasp agony against Wigtownshire in league opener

The resulting kick sailed between the posts to put the home side a point in front, and smart game play from the hosts, who kept the ball in the forwards for what little time was left, ensured it was Uddingston who would emerge victorious – though one losing bonus for the narrow defeat, and a second for scoring four tries, cushioned at least some of the blow for the Greens.

Club president John Cashmore said: "Helensburgh again showed how dangerous they can be with ball in hand. That’s 101 points scored from three games, and due to a large number of injuries more than 35 players have played in those games, which shows a great deal of depth in the squad.

"It has not helped with continuity, though, and coaches and players alike feel all three games could have been won.

"If we can start from the first whistle instead of 20 minutes in and cut the penalty count then this team can really start to show its true potential."

Helensburgh's next opportunity to demonstrate that devastating attacking play is back at Ardencaple this Saturday, October 2, against near neighbours Clydebank. Kick-off is at 3pm.

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