HELENSBURGH coach David Calderwood has called on his players to take the attitude they showed for the closing stages of Saturday’s defeat at home to Cumnock and apply it for the full 80 minutes in future.

The Greens lost a breathless, harum-scarum Ardencaple encounter 42-34 – but showed great team spirit to rally in the final quarter and secure a bonus point for scoring four tries after finding themselves 22 points adrift.

Calderwood said: “The boys took onboard the lessons from the narrow defeat last week against Paisley and really upped their game again. The visitors had a dominant scrum and this was the telling factor in the first half, as they scored two tries because of this.

“We lost our way a little in the early exchanges after half time but finished the game strongly, almost getting ourselves into a position to win the game.

“We must take this attitude into a match and apply it for 80 minutes, and believe that we can win these games. Consistency and more numbers at training will help the boys find that match conditioning to survive the hits, as we had a number of boys come off. Availability will be the key for us this season.”

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It was another case of ‘good cop, bad cop’ for the Grizzlies after they slipped to a fourth defeat of the campaign.

Good cop will point out that Burgh’s indefatigable spirit was there in spades – that never-say-die attitude that’s been a hallmark of Helensburgh RFC for many a year now. No further questioning.

Bad cop, however, might show the jury different evidence – in the form of a notable lack of aggression, some shoddy tackling, a lack of competition generally at the breakdown. It’s a fair cop, guv!

After five minutes, Michael Welch broke clear, forcing the Cumnock defence to infringe, and Calum O’Brien kicked Burgh into a 3-0 lead.

Cumnock had a chance for an immediate riposte, but with the line at his mercy, their winger dropped the ball; to add insult to injury, their full-back then missed an easy penalty to tie the scores.

Three minutes later, a bizarre scenario: taking advantage of poor positional play by Burgh, Cumnock put in a long grubber. Watching the ball trundle over the dead ball line, Ali Rogers picked it up, only for the referee to award the visitors a scrum-five, claiming the full-back had carried it over. He then cemented his unpopularity by awarding Cumnock a penalty try from the ensuing scrum.

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Burgh stormed back with a splendid try, Welch taking crash ball 35 metres out and bursting through despairing tackles for a try, converted by O’Brien for 10-7 – but Cumnock worked their way back into the Burgh 22, and with Sean Alton in the sin-bin, capitalised on that with a converted try for 14-10.

This galvanised the Ayrshire side who spurned several chances to pull clear before a penalty and further try saw them lead 22-10 at half-time.

A tight first half gave no indication of the bonkers-ness that was about to break out and see Burgh win the second period 24-20.

Sam King’s industry and power on the resumption should have earned a try, but his support lacked numbers and Cumnock cleared.

Then, despite a big hit from Arras Mathieson, Cumnock took advantage of generally poor Burgh tackling for an unconverted try, 27-10.

Again, though, Burgh responded immediately: Ali Rogers harassed meaningfully at O’Brien’s re-start, forcing the turnover, and Corrie Fletcher put Craig Calderwood over untouched, though O’Brien missed the conversion to leave Burgh 12 points adrift.

Sam King’s smothering hit denied the Cumnock winger a hat-trick, but it only delayed the inevitable, and the visitors scored in the corner from a short-range scrum.

Twelve minutes into the half this curious match got curiouser. As Burgh’s midfield were sucked in time and again to the breakdown, poor Ben Farrar was left with a five-on-one – but inexplicably, Cumnock spilled the overlap, allowing the flame-haired Ben to scoop up the ball and tear 60 metres for an astonishing try. O’Brien’s conversion shaved the wrong side of the posts.

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That took the score to 32-20, but Burgh were the architects of their own downfall next, when a wild pass sailed over O’Brien’s head in-goal, and from the resultant scrum-five, Cumnock scored a pushover try. After 65 minutes the visitors surged ahead with another unconverted try for 42-20 – and that, you might have thought, was that.

Not this madcap young Burgh side: despite by this time being literally the walking wounded, they somehow managed to conjure up two magnificent scores.

The first fell to the ever-willing Macauley, who capitalised on another Cumnock dropped ball and showed his pursuers a clean set of heels, O’Brien converting.

And from the re-start, Craig Calderwood fielded and set off on a blitzkrieg run, then Sam King broke umpteen tackles to take the ball to within a metre of the line and had the presence of mind to flick up a pass for the grateful Dan Sellars to score.

O’Brien’s conversion wrapped up the scoring, despite another last-gasp burst from King, Farrar, King again and Ali Rogers, while at the death, Cumnock were denied a try when Mathieson and Mark Kinsman held firm on the goal-line.

Best for Burgh were man-of-the-match Calderwood, Sam King, Macauley, Rogers and Farrar.

Burgh: Rogers, Kinsman, Welch, O’Brien, Fletcher, Farrar, Macauley, Jamieson, Ashdown, Girvan, Calderwood, Alton, Sellars, Kerr, Sam King. Subs: Ard, Mathieson, Fish, Stuart King, Flanagan.

Helensburgh’s trio of home matches continues this Saturday, October 5, when they host league leaders Oban Lorne. Kick-off is at 3pm.

Everyone at Helensburgh RFC wishes big Michael ‘Raq’ Welch a speedy recovery – the big centre is out for the season after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in this game.

By full-time on Saturday, Burgh had lost Ashdown (back), Kerr (heel), Flanagan (shoulder) and Fish (facial injury) – let’s hope they’re all quick healers.

Helensburgh are trying to raise a second XV to play their Oban counterparts on Saturday, with that game starting at 1.30pm.

It’s more a social/veterans team than a formal second XV, so as ever with Helensburgh RFC, the team goes by its more familiar moniker, The Grousebeaters. All volunteers to help swell the Greens’ ranks will be welcomed on board.

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