A SPIRITED performance by Helensburgh against unbeaten Dalziel yielded three tries but no points on Saturday as the Ardencaple side fell to a 46-24 home defeat.

The blues had swept in on the back of a club record defeat to Wigtownshire two weeks earlier – not surprising since Burgh had only travelled with 12 players.

But on a day where Helensburgh RFC raised two teams for the first time in more than five years, the focus was on looking forward, not back, with coach David Calderwood’s pleas for lads to make themselves available week-after-week the only solution for better days.

Dalziel’s quick first-phase and breakdown ball spun wide to as slick a set of backs as Burgh have faced in a while, and though fine defence by Sam King and Josh Watkins prevented a couple of early tries, it only prolonged the inevitable, ironically from a short line-out rolling maul.

Wingers Dan Sellars and Dan Kenny stuck bravely to the task, but fine hands among Dalziel three-quarters probed another easy brace of tries for the visitors, 15-0.

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Burgh pulled three points back via the boot of Calum O’Brien after Craig Calderwood snaffled the re-start, then got sucker-punched from another rolling maul inside their 22 which ended with another unconverted try.

Burgh stuck to their guns as wave after wave of Dalziel attack flowed through their midfield. However, on 33 minutes, another rapier dart from the centre opened Burgh up and the winger made it 25-3.

A minute later, Burgh perseverance paid off when they won a scrum penalty; Paul Howell took a quick tap, fed the rampaging Cammy Kerr and was on hand to take the offload and scuttle over, O’Brien’s conversion making it 25-10.

But the Motherwell men had the last laugh of the half, with an identikit try for them through the hands, this time the successful conversion making it 32-10 at the interval.

READ MORE: Skipper bemoans slow start as Helensburgh lose in Coatbridge

There was more parity in the second period as Burgh woke up from their slumbers. A scintillating break by Howell and cheeky inside pop freed Craig Bowman who sprinted into the Dalziel 22; Hawkins and Kenny made further inroads, then Sam King slipped in the act of scoring, but Burgh already had a penalty advantage.

Kerr, Gus Byrne and Phil Ard all carried close to the line, before prop Chris Clements burrowed over. O’Brien’s extra points made it 32-17.

Dalziel responded with a converted try after 50 minutes but sustained pressure from Burgh’s pack in the visitor’s 22 saw Kerr thwarted illegally in the act of scoring and the ref awarded a penalty try.

Right at the death, Dalziel scorched through for their eighth try to rub salt in brave Burgh wounds with the home side’s best performances coming from Howell, Ard, Kerr and Watkins.

Burgh: Watkins, Sellars, Sam King, O’Brien, Kenny, Bowman, Howell, Jamieson, Cameron King, Ard, Sampson, Byrne, Calderwood, Kerr, Dunn. Sub: Clements.

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Coach David Calderwood said afterwards: “We made our typical slow start against one of the top three sides in the league, and as a result, lost too many easy tries inside the first half hour.

“But we woke up at half-time and competed well in the second half, actually drawing it 14-14 on the scoreboard. A wee bit more belief and getting in the right frame of mind to start games better would go a long way with these young guys. We proved, yet again, that we can play rugby!”

The 1st XV are away to second-top Cumnock on Saturday (16 Nov) proving life just keeps throwing challenges at you… kick-off is at 2pm and supporters are welcome to travel down on the team bus.

Meanwhile, Burgh’s veterans/social side, The Grousebeaters, were back in action thanks to some press-gang recruiting efforts and aided by four lads from Bute RFC who had travelled up from Rothesay just to get some game-time. Well done those lads!

In a high-scoring match against a Bishopton XV, several stars of yesteryear – among them Stewart Tacchi, Colin Rettie, Mark Tyson and David McGrath – were joined by some new faces. The Grousebeaters’ next fixture is up at Oban on December 14.

READ MORE: Catch up with all the latest sports news from around Helensburgh and Lomond here