IT was a case of what might have been for Helensburgh Lomond’s 16s side as it narrowly missed out in its Quaich final tie against Cartha Queen’s Park, 36-29 – but the players could be proud of their efforts.

Wet and sodden pitches saw Helensburgh Lomond surrender home advantage. Pitches were soft underfoot but the two sides give a fantastic example of grass roots rugby in an end-to-end final.

Helensburgh Lomond hit within the opening seconds. Starting the game, Ruairidh Hall hoisted into the Cartha half, and a fumble from the home team saw Helensburgh Lomond capitalise with Alex Brown crossing the whitewash within the opening minute; 0-5 but a long way to go.

Excellent officiating saw the game flowing freely with both teams hitting hard and not wanting to concede territory or possession and it was CQP which broke away to level the score with an unconverted try.

The resulting restart saw H&L play deep in the CQP half, resolute defending and tackling saw multiple phase play with H&L retaining possession.

Mackenzie and Ethan were rucking hard with Charlie and Alex T demonstrating phase play. That allowed flying prop Lee crash over in the corner and restore the five-point lead to H&L.

CQP kicked deep into the H&L half and the resulting restart saw some excellent play from Ben, making the hard yards up the blindside a quick ruck released Euan to sprint past his winger from the halfway line; 5-15.

Euan was quickly on the score sheet for his second of the day and slotting the conversion to make it 5-22 with a few minutes to half time.

There was more drama before halftime as CQP hit back with two quick well worked scores out wide on the wing 15-22 at halftime.

The second half saw CQP, with a full contingent of 22 players, ring the changes. Making seven changes in a cup final is a luxury L&H could only dream of, the fresh legs of CQP saw them take the upper hand in the game and four unanswered scores saw them race into a 36-22 lead.

Heads were dropping – but this is a squad of boys who can find a way to summon up the extra, Solomon tackling anything that came near him and demonstrating his ex-hooking skills as he deftly guided a scrum ball back to Harry at 8.

Harry took his team and the game by the scruff and ragged them both. Huge tackles and drives saw H&L set up base camp inches short of the CQP try line.

Ewan battered the door but couldn't find a way through, Kyle and Tom had their speed stifled by strong defensive tackles.

Gethin proved a pivotal link between the backs and forwards. Harris, once again relishing his role in the centre, was strong going forward and even stronger in defence. The fresh legs of CQP knew they were in a game, then Euan scythed through the CQP defence to cap his hattrick under the posts. Hall slotted the two points and it was game on 36-29 in the dying minutes.

Relentless H&L pressure saw them again spend time deep in CQP half but it wasn't to be their day. Clearing their lines CQP kicked clear and a fumble in open play saw the ball dead and referee blow for full time. Bodies from both sides lay strewn and battered throughout the field of play.

In true sportsmanship the H&L squad warmly congratulated CQP on 70 minutes of battle, end-to-end rugby and flair that entertained the crowd and was worthy of any final.

Coach Ian Smith said: “As a coach it is hard to see your squad like this after they have given so much all season, and I write about how we are punching above our weight and consistent low numbers, so let's put some context on this.

“We are allowed to name and field 22 players per match; the largest number Pete and I could put out was 17 that is our full squad.

“We played 15 games to date, winning 10 of them, scoring almost 600 points and conceding under 350. This is a squad of players who have historically been the “whipping boys”. This is a squad of young men who turned up to training in dark wet conditions knowing they were shorn of numbers, a squad who continually give their all and ache after every game.”

Ian added: “Pete and I are immensely proud of what we have achieved this season, they have grown in stature. They have come of age as young men and this is a solid platform to build into the 18s and for those playing age grade 16s again next season, there are some great mentors staying. Youth rugby at Helensburgh RFC is in great shape.”

Meanwhile, there was joy for Helensburgh Lomond under-15s as the side travelled to Strathaven, enjoying victory in the Scottish Rugby West Region Quaich Final 42-40.

Supported by friends and family the Burgh squad faced a well matched Strathaven squad showing grit and determination in an end-to-end contest.

Strathaven opened the scoring with Burgh quickly responding, and this pattern continued to half time when Helensburgh Lomond took a two try lead.

With five minutes to play Strathaven scored the try which, if converted, would have levelled the game but the kick went wide and Helensburgh responded by taking the ball to the opposition 22 and defending the lead to ultimately win the match.

A spokesperson said: “Credit to both groups of lads for a hard-fought encounter and a culmination of a season which saw Helensburgh Lomond under-15s top the Schools Conference and only lose one game, by four points, in the SRU West Club competition, returning the silverware to Ardencaple.