HELENSBURGH Rugby Club began their preparations for the new season with a comprehensive 87-12 win over Greenock Wanderers’ 2nd XV on Saturday.

A large support at Ardencaple saw the Grizzlies run in 13 tries as they prepare for life in Tennent’s West Regional Division 2 in 2018-19.

Greenock started well, working their way up to the halfway line after the Burgh kicked off, but good defence from the hosts saw Greenock kick to the Grizzlies’ 22 for a lineout.

New flanker Sam King won the ball from the set-piece and passed to number 8 Connor Simmons, who charged up to the halfway line and supplied clean ball to full-back Welsh – and he in turn passed to winger Howell, who sliced through the Greenock defence to score in the corner.

From the restart a stubborn Greenock side kept the ball and tried to push forward, but couldn’t get past the Burgh tackling and ended up knocking on.

From the ensuing scrum the Helensburgh backs produced a fantastic play, started by centre Rogers with a super pass out to Howell, whose pace again cut through the Greenock defence, opening space for stand-off Stevenson to pass out to the other winger, Court, and he drew the last man before giving to Simmons to go over for the second try.

Court’s conversion gave Helensburgh a 12-0 lead after 14 minutes, before the try of the match four minutes later, with Stevenson receiving the ball from scrum-half Kinsella on the halfway line and racing off down the wing, selling Greenock no fewer than three dummies before going over the line.

Helensburgh were now beginning to dominate, and further tries from Howell and King left the hosts firmly in control of the game.

Good running from the Greenock forwards saw the visitors reduce the leeway with a score in the corner three minutes before the break, but Burgh replied straight from the kick-off, with McAulay stealing the ball on the 10-metre line and passing out to Court, who ran in the converted try to leave Helensburgh 40-5 in front at the break.

The second half saw Helensburgh pick up where they had left off, with Greenock’s seconds now beginning to tire, enabling the Grizzlies to run in a further seven tries from Howell, Court, McAulay (two), King, Welsh and Kinsella.

Greenock, who fought hard throughout, replied with one further try, but it wasn’t enough to take the shine off a very positive result and performance for the hosts – and with a large squad being used for the game, coach David Calderwood and his assistant Sean McNee could be very happy with the outcome.

This Saturday, August 18, Helensburgh play host to Strathendrick in the first round of the Tennent’s West Regional Shield – and with Strathendrick having won promotion to West Regional Division One at the end of last season, while Helensburgh made the trip in the opposite direction, the tie should present the Grizzlies with a strong test.

This Saturday’s tie kicks off at 3pm, with all support most welcome.

Meanwhile, Helensburgh’s league campaign gets under way on Saturday, September 1 with a home match against Bishopton, followed by a trip to Cumbernauld seven days later.