HELENSBURGH’S U13/U14 team had their first experience of men’s rugby on Sunday when they hosted Livingston at Ardencaple, writes Robin Smith – and despite losing 54-33, boy did they dig deep!

Facing off against a much bigger Livingston side, Helensburgh could have been excused for wilting – but it was anything but as they rose to the occasion and more than matched their opponents for skill.

The first 15 minutes went by wing to wing and touch to touch without points. That first third showed a lot of promise, with Finlay almost scoring, William at full back making a great run back to collect a long ball then evading a good few tackles from the chasing opposition and making a few meters back, and some great try saving tackles from Fraser.

The deadlock was eventually broken by Livingston, but Helensburgh came straight back sending Fraser over for our first. A smart play from Ben then saw him execute an inside pass and over the line again went Archie to make it 14-7 – with a great crowd along to support both teams in raptures at the quality and intensity on the pitch.

Helensburgh kept going forward at the start of the second third, but this time were perhaps not quick enough to get up to the game line as Livingston mounted a comeback with three tries, Finlay replying with a third try for Helensburgh.

The final third, though, saw momentum swing to Livingston, Helensburgh perhaps somewhat shell-shocked by the loss of their team-mate Rory M to injury.

Whilst Helensburgh where no match in terms of physical presence, they were more of a match in skill, with some epic defence, and big tackles as Kai, Archie, Ben, Lewis and Struan all got some pretty important or impressive take downs.

Also worthy of note is the last third wonder try from Struan – a darting dance and run past at least five (much bigger) opponents to score.

The final result didn’t really reflect well on a close and tough battle that showed plenty of promise.

Our last thoughts are to Rory for his contribution to the team this season. May he get fit and well soon and see him back for next season!