Bannockburn recorded their biggest league win of the season so far with an encouraging performance against Glenrothes Development XV at Bluebellwood on Saturday.
The bonus point victory, against a team who were reduced to 14 men in the first half, lifts ‘Burn to seventh in RBS Caledonia League Division 3 (Midlands) and within reach of the top half of the table.
The home side took the initiative early on despite playing up the slope and into a stiff breeze for the first 40 minutes. Some clever tactical kicking from Chris Reed and Andy Gardner ensured the opening exchanges took place deep in Glenrothes territory and the opening score came after a period of concerted pressure. A strong surge by lock forward Bryan Paterson took play to within a few yards of the Glens’ try line and some sharp passing from Reed opened up the Glens defence for Alan Greenwood power over to score on the right wing. John Dawson’s conversion attempt was on target but fell short in the teeth of the wind.
‘Burn maintained their positive start and Gregor Queen, playing at number eight, extended the lead to 10 points with a try on the left which came after some strong running from home forwards and backs alike, with John Dawson, Lee Cameron, Ashley Bird and Stuart McGown to the fore, before a neat offload from Stevie McCormack put the home captain in.
Glenrothes’ converted a penalty after ‘Burn were caught offside in their own 22 but their hopes of getting back into the game were hampered when a red card was shown to one of their forwards for throwing a punch at McCormack during a skirmish at a ruck.
A third score for ‘Burn before half time came courtesy of Dawson, who latched on to a pass from Andrew Gardner on the right flank and outsprinted the cover defence to dab down. Dawson added the conversion and make the half time score 17-0 to the hosts.
With the advantage of the slope, the wind and an extra man in the second half, Bannockburn continued to enjoy the lion’s share of territory and possession but, to their credit, Glenrothes stuck to their task and proved difficult to break down as ‘Burn attempted to add a fourth try and gain a bonus point.
The score, when it came, was a fine individual effort by Queen, who picked up from the base of a scrum, took a good low body position and held off several tacklers to get to the line.
Club captain Ryan Lydon, making a welcome return from injury, made an immediate impact when he came on for the second half with some strong running in broken play. He capped his comeback with a score, spinning out of a tackle to dive over from close range after some neat wing play by Bruce.
‘Burn’s sixth try came courtesy of replacement centre Andy Cowan who pounced on a kick through to dab down in touch-in-goal after a powerful run by Chris Weir and a seventh was added by the impressive Gardner. A clean break by Lydon was halted by a high tackle just outside the Glens 22 and Gardner’s quick tap penalty had the cover defence at sixes and sevens. With several support runners outside him, he dummied the last defender and sprinted under the posts. Dawson had converted all three second half scores so far and added another two points to make the final score 45-3.
After two weeks of plucky but pointless performances with limited numbers, Saturday’s performance was a good reminder of how effective ‘Burn can be when fully manned.
J Dawson Jnr; C Bruce, A Bird, A Gardner, L Cameron; C Reed, S McGown; A Greenwood, C Weir, I McEwan, B Paterson, S Shotliff, S McCormack, I McInally, G Queen (capt)
J Dawson Snr, AJ Horne, A Cowan, T Vines