Uddingston 33 Moffat 35
If your weekend plans had involved sharing a 69 then this high scoring encounter at Castle Policies came up 1 point short, with the 2 sides sharing 68 points as the Villagers went down 33-35 to a more powerful Moffat side.
Any slim promotion chance that Uddingston retained disappeared on Saturday when a 98th minute try snatched a 2 point victory for Moffat. The final score was more a reflection of the defensive weakness of both sides rather than their attacking prowess, but following the 36-36 draw earlier in the season, the neutral spectator could have no argument with the number of tries these 2 sides have produced between them.
As it was, Moffat returned home with the full 5 points, and the Villagers had to be content with a losing bonus point and a 4 try bonus point for their efforts. The result now sees Uddingston sitting 3rd in the table with 4 fixtures remaining, including next week’s hosting of league leaders Millbrae. With 8 points separating Uddingston from 2nd placed Strathaven, and 15 points behind Millbrae, the chances of securing either of the top 2 spots are all but over.
For such a high scoring match, things started slowly. The Villagers were keen to use their backline, while Moffat were relying on their heavyweight forwards, unfortunately, neither side showed any real control or pattern of play. With 20 minutes played the only scoring had come from 2 well struck penalties from the visitors, opening up a 6-0 lead.
This early set back sparked a response from the Villagers and well taken tries from Robbie Drummond and Colin Gardiner on 24 and 36 minutes, with one conversion from Chris King, saw Uddingston move into a 12-6 lead approaching the interval.
The first period had not only been error strewn, but had also contained a number of injury related stoppages. As such, 8 minutes of additional time were played, and with the clock slowly heading towards half time the Villagers suffered the double set back of losing a player to the sin bin for repeated infringements at the breakdown, and could do nothing to stop Moffat from using their size and weight to cross the whitewash from the resulting penalty. The conversion split the uprights and the referee brought the opening 48 minutes to a close with Moffat narrowly ahead 12-13.
If the first half had been slow to start, the second was anything but. The hardy supporters on the touchline had barely reappeared from sheltering from the elements when the Villagers pushed themselves back into the lead. A quick break by King, just inside the Moffat half, saw him skip past a number of tackles before crossing at the posts. King converted his own try to move the Villagers into a 19-13 advantage.
Despite this strong start to the second period the Villagers were still struggling to find any real pattern to their play and soon found themselves 19-25 behind, Moffat capitalising on poor decision making and even worse defending in the Uddingston ranks to score 2 tries, converting the second.
A further period of turgid, middle of the park rugby ensued and it wasn’t until the 29th minute of the second period before the scoreboard was troubled again. Once more it was King who rounded off some quick handling by the Uddingston backs, running in for the try from the Moffat 22 metre line. King slotted over the conversion to sneak the Villagers ahead 26-25.
Moffat wasted no time in hitting back, winning back the restart ball, and once more using their big forwards to drive through a weak Uddingston defence, eventually rumbling over in the corner. The angle proved too much for the conversion but the visitors were back in front at 26-30.
In a similar pattern to the first half, the second contained a number of injury (and fitness) related stoppages. As such, the referee had spent as long stopping and starting his watch as he had blowing his whistle. This left the support on both sides unsure of how long was still to be played, and unaware of the drama which would unfold in the closing encounters.
The Villagers were first to strike, and once more it was the man of the moment Chris King who broke out of his own half, leaving the Moffat defence flat footed, as he powered away to score at the posts. King again added the extras with a decidedly wobbly conversion but it was enough to move Uddingston into a 33-30 lead with time running out.
The Captains conferred with the referee and it was confirmed that a further 7 minutes of added time remained, and the tension grew. Moffat threw everything they had at Uddingston, but to no avail. The home defence stood strong, and looked on course to close out the match and secure the points. Moffat had other ideas. With 2 minutes remaining Uddingston butchered a clearance kick, giving Moffat a lineout inside the Villagers 22. The ball was won in the line, but poor handling forced the turnover and a scrum to Uddingston. One minute to play and control of the ball, the win secured. No such luck. Poor decision making in the Villagers defence was to cost them as the referee gave a penalty for holding onto the ball on the ground. Moffat took the tap and powered for the try line only to be held up and unable to ground the ball. With the home support screaming for full time the referee decided there was still enough left on his watch to allow for the attacking scrum, and this time Moffat made sure, driving over with a pile of bodies to claim the all-important winning try. The missed conversion was of no consequence and Moffat were able to celebrate a hard fought win 33-35.