HELENSBURGH recorded their highest home points tally since April 2016 with a convincing 44-24 home win over Paisley on Saturday, writes Calum McNicol.

The Ardencaple side’s recent form suggested this sort of performance was coming and they didn’t disappoint the large home crowd, running in six fine tries.

Yet it all started so badly for the Grizzlies, after they failed to field the deal with the kick-off, and Paisley had a series of drives into the home 22; play swept left and the visitors scored an unconverted try to lead 5-0 after just two minutes!

A ripping riposte saw a fine breenge by Michael Welch take play into Paisley’s half. A Paisley clearance was fielded by Paul Howell, who counter-attacked well, taking play into the opposition 22.

From the ruck, Mike Linzee-Gordon broke forward, fed centre Josh Townsend and he slipped the supporting Kyle Stevenson in under the posts, Reece Court converting to put Helensburgh’s noses in front.

Burgh scored their second soon after from a 10-metre lineout. Josh Green – who dominated the touchline all day – gave quick ball off the top and Stevenson found Cammy Kerr, who barraged forward then gave a deft pass wide, and though the next pass hit the deck, the lively Townsend showed great hands to scoop the ball up and dive under the posts, Court adding the extras for 14-5.

After 17 minutes, however, poor home tackling contributed to a rather soft Paisley try which was converted to close the gap to only two points
But Burgh responded quickly, kicking a penalty to touch, where a lovely rolling maul off a clean take saw vice-skipper Sean Alton ground the ball for an unconverted try, giving the hosts a 19-12 advantage.

With 32 minutes on the clock, a series of driving rucks with Kerr, Alton and Jason Feltham to the fore earned a penalty which Court goaled for 22-12.

Burgh kept up the pressure, and a series of drives at the Paisley line ended with Alton powering over for his second try, and the bonus point, which Court converted to put the Greens 29-12 in front at half-time.
Soon after the restart, Court was successful with his second penalty to make it 32-12.

It was still all Burgh; despite a back-pedalling scrum, Kerr broke blind, fed Stevenson and he put Howell clear. Wain supported, and was only stopped by a desperate cover tackle.

It only delayed the inevitable when, with 50 minutes on the clock, Burgh ran a short-penalty move, the forwards’ decoy working brilliantly as Rogers put the rampaging Welch in for the hosts’ fifth which Court converted , opening up a 39-12 advantage.

There was then a half-hour to forget for Burgh as they took their feet off the gas. Paisley took full advantage, though their third try was highly fortuitous, the referee adjudging Phil Ard’s goal-line defence to be illegal and awarding a penalty try for which Phil got 10 minutes in the sin bin.

This was followed by a close-range driving maul score for the visitors after high-tackle yellow-card offence by Serafini, taking the score to 39-24 and earning Paisley a bonus point of their own.

But the final score deservedly went to the home side just before the final whistle and soon after a straight red card for a Paisley player, who was sent packing for an illegal blow to Kerr’s head.

Stevenson found touch from the penalty and another text-book maul from a five-metre lineout saw Mark Ashdown emerge with the ball and the try.

Court’s conversion narrowly sailed wide and it ended 44-24.
Burgh’s points tally was their highest on home soil since the Greens took 55 points off Lenzie in April 2016.

The table-topping East Dunbartonshire side are now the only unbeaten team in Tennent’s West Division 2, after they chalked up a thumping 64-5 win away to Bishopton on Saturday.

And after Helensburgh travel to deepest Lanarkshire this Saturday, October 27, to take on Strathaven, the Greens welcome the league leaders to Ardencaple on November 3.

Best for Burgh on Saturday were Kerr, Green, Alton and Ard up front while Stevenson, Townsend and Welch excelled among a good backs’ display.

Helensburgh: Howell, Welch, Rogers, Townsend, Linzee-Gordon, Court, Stevenson, Feltham, Ashdown, Ard, C. Calderwood, Green, Simmons, Kerr, Alton. Subs: Raeside, Serafini, D.Calderwood, Wain.

Burgh now lie in mid-table in the standings with 19 points after three wins, four try bonus points and three losing bonus points from their first eight games.


CLUB captain Cammy Kerr hailed the Grizzlies’ “best performance of the season” after the Greens put Paisley to the sword at Ardencaple.

After being stunned by the loss of the game’s opening try just two minutes in, Kyle Stevenson, Josh Townsend, Sean Alton (two), Michael Welch and Matt Ashdown all crossed the line as the Grizzlies bounced back in style from the disappointment of a narrow loss away to Wigtownshire seven days earlier.

Skipper Kerr said afterwards: “That was our best performance of the season so far.

“Despite a bad start, the boys’ heads didn’t go down like they might have before. We’ve been working on a new attacking style which the boys have really bought into and you can see it bearing fruit.

“I call it Blitzkreig rugby, send the big tanks up the middle and the fighter jets out wide to pick off what’s left.

“My only real criticism is that our defence needs to tighten up, but everything is on an upward trajectory, I hope.”

Coach David Calderwood added: “After a couple of losses, where we had played some good rugby but didn’t get our just rewards, we knew this was an important game to put it right.

“The boys have worked hard at training to refine our patterns of play and that really showed – some of our attacking play was as good as it’s been for years.

“Credit to the boys for their attitude at training. The hard work is starting to pay off.”

* Helensburgh’s win was the biggest of the day in Division 2 on Saturday; elsewhere, Burgh’s two closest geographical rivals clashed at Dillichip, with Loch Lomond edging a tight West Dunbartonshire derby against Clydebank by a margin of 20-17.

Other results from Saturday: Millbrae 11-13 Wigtownshire; Cumbernauld 12-27 Strathaven; Uddingston 15-7 Oban Lorne.

This coming Saturday’s other fixtures are as follows: Uddingston v Bishopton, Lenzie v Cumbernauld, Paisley v Millbrae, Wigtownshire v Loch Lomond, Oban Lorne v Clydebank.