Writing about the fortunes of Helensburgh Rugby Club is a bit like training a puppy…you love the wee rascal dearly, but there’s times you could see it far enough, writes Calum McNicol.

For every ‘Good Boy!’ day, when the pup listens and works hard at improving, like in the wins against Oban and Clydebank, there are the ‘bad dog!’ days, too – the days when you wonder if this powerful, muscular, obedient animal you’re trying to build isn’t always just going to be a cute little ball of fur, prone to rolling over to have its tummy tickled.

Because in Saturday’s 27-10 defeat at home to bottom-of-the-league Uddingston, there was very little ‘dog’ on show at all, especially without the terrier-like Craig Calderwood snapping at opponents’ heels.

When it clicks, Burgh can show remarkable craft – but on Saturday it was pretty much all Crufts!

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Uddingston forced the issue from the off, pressing Burgh’s exit from their own 22 and eventually turning the hosts over. Despite suspicions of a knock-on, the Lanarkshire side strolled over for a converted try after just four minutes.

Burgh responded well, Alex McAuley launching a Garryowen into the murk and chasing it well to pin the visiting full-back on his 22 and forcing a penalty. Chris Clements tapped and drove and a series of rucks ended with Paul Howell held up on the try-line.

Soon after, a further penalty for Burgh was goaled by Howell to close the gap to four points, only for Uddingston’s kicker to reply on 33 minutes, slotting calmly over from the 22 to make it 10-3.

Cammy Kerr and Howell were doing well at the back of a reversing scrum and one such pick and go might have been better rewarded but the No.8 delayed his pass too long and Howell was scragged.

Back came the Villagers only to butcher a try-scoring opportunity after their hooker had burst through to within yards of Burgh’s line, but then failed to find support and a knock-on ended the first half with Burgh trailing 3-10.

Still the rain cascaded down, still the conditions made running rugby a lottery, but it was Uddingston who took the game by the scruff of the neck, some strong runners cutting swathes through some weak Burgh tackling.

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Three tries were their reward for merely showing more aggression and more will-to-win as Burgh heads went down deeper than the mud that clung in places the sun don’t shine.

The litany of appeals from the faithful – and drookit – home supporters were finally rewarded when, at the death, hooker Brian Jamieson plunged over for a try, converted by Howell for 10-27.

It was scant reward in what was a pretty abject display by the home side, the result of which brings Uddingston that bit closer to the Greens in the basement.

Riva man-of-the-match was Sam King with mentions in dispatches for Brian Jamieson, Jack Dunn and Adam Hepworth up front, while Howell and McAuley tried in vain among the backs.

Burgh skipper Cammy Kerr said: “We felt confident going into the game but possibly too confident which was probably our undoing.

"With injuries and some big players unavailable it was a bit of a scratch team and that played its part too, especially in the set piece where we struggled.

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“In conditions like that it’s less about skill and more about who’s willing to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in. On the day they were better at that than us.

"We need to pull together now, get through this week then we have a month off. We can recover and start afresh in the new year.

I’d like to thank all the supporters who come out to cheer us on each week. It’s massively appreciated, and in the new year we’ll give them more to shout about.”

Burgh: Burgess, McAuley, Robertson, Fletcher, Kenny, Pugsley, Howell, Ard, Jamieson, Clements, Hepworth, Dunn, MacDonald, Kerr, King. Subs: Court.

This Saturday, December 14, Burgh travel to Argyll ‘neighbours’ Oban Lorne, for the final league fixture of the season.

On Saturday, December 21, a Burgh XV will take on a Lomond School Old Boys XV in a special charity match at Ardencaple, both kicking off at 2pm.

READ MORE: Catch up with all the latest Helensburgh and Lomond sport stories here