LOMOND and Helensburgh’s second XV fell to defeat against a combined Greenock Wanderers squad featuring eight first team players on Saturday – but there were still plenty of positive signs for manager Ian MacQuire and his team to take from the match.

Having seen a combined second and third team lose 28-15 at home to L&H’s reserve XV in January, Greenock came to Ardencaple with nothing but revenge in mind, and were 12-0 up after 12 minutes.

But this L&H team have proved this season that they are a hardy bunch, and the home side - boasting plenty of ability of their own in an impressive squad of 23 players - replied in the 20th minute with a well-worked score down the left, T-Jay Lambert grounding the ball in the corner to extend his try-scoring run to five matches.

With both teams knocking ten bells out of each other, the Greenock captain was heard to say afterwards that it was one of the most physical games his team had had all season – testament to L&H’s ability to defend as well as attack.

Some great work from the home forwards set up Iain Norrie for the home team’s second try, and though Greenock replied with a converted score of their own three minutes later, L&H kept plugging away, and their persistence paid off just before half-time when captain Andy McKay burrowed over from close range, vice-captain Dougie King converting to leave the teams tied at 17-17 at the break.

Greenock’s coaches, though, must have been dreading the prospect of another defeat to L&H, making several substitutions at half-time and introducing their first team players – who regularly play two divisions above L&H’s first XV - to the fray.

And the move – eventually – paid off for the visitors, with the new players, after taking 10 minutes to get up to speed with the game, scoring four quick tries in the space of 15 minutes to open up a 48-17 lead and put the win beyond the hosts.

But MacQuire made several changes to the home team for the closing stages, too, though it was one of the first half’s try-scorers, Norrie, who registered L&H’s first score of the second period when he battered his way through to score under the posts.

That seemed to lift the L&H players, and four minutes later the forwards pushed the Greenock players back in a ruck before the ball was passed along the backs for Josh Foster to pin back his ears and beat two players to score in the corner for his first senior try.

It was Greenock, though, who scored the final points, with one of their first team players running through a tired L&H defence to score under the posts for a final score of 55-27 to the visitors.

MacQuire said afterwards: “Though we were disappointed at losing, our players can take great encouragement from the way they played and dug deep against a club whose first XV play two leagues above our firsts, and whose second team play in the league above L&H.

“We held our own for the first half and much of the second half.

“A particularly encouraging sign recently has been seeing the number of players from last year’s under-18 team coming forward to play with the second XV, with Fabio Garcia being the latest player to make his first appearance for the team.”

L&H’s second XV will round off their impressive first league season in five years with a trip to Clydebank to face the Glasgow Raptors on Saturday, March 23.

Squad: Peter McCready, Scott Smith, Iain Norrie, Colin Rettie, Garry Wallis, Andy McKay (captain), Darcy Bourton, Thomas MacKay, Kyle Stevenson, Gregor Mathieson, Douglas King (vice-captain), T-Jay Lambert, Craig Newport, Thomas Shaw, Ben Wain, Joshua Foster, Mickael Paris, Fabio Garcia, Daniel Talbot, Denis Chamberlain, Daniel Talbot, Charlie Mackenzie, Miguel Milton Dos Santos.