McLaren left Lanarkshire empty-handed on Saturday following their defeat at the hands of Strathaven.
The final score in the home side’s favour by 26 points to 10 says more about McLaren’s resilience in defence as Strathaven posed awkward questions of the visitors throughout the game.
Admittedly, McLaren’s game plan was severely disrupted as early as the second minute when outside half Milligan was forced off with a deep gash above his left eye following an accidental clash of heads with one of Strathaven’s wingers, Murray substituting.
Drummond switched from scrum to outside half and was the pick of the visiting side as he strove to exert some control over proceedings in the face of sustained and hostile play by Strathaven.
Worse was to come as number eight More came off for an injury, substituted by McKillion, further upsetting the rhythm of the away pack.
As the half progressed McLaren’s scrum began to wilt under pressure from the opposing forwards and conceded the first try from a set piece. A rare foray by McLaren into the home 22 was repulsed by Strathaven’s counter attack deep into Mclaren’s half. Strathaven’s pack pushed Mclaren back at the scrum and good possession allowed the full back to score in the corner. The conversion was missed.
For a few minutes from the restart McLaren enjoyed a good passage of play and repeated offending at the set piece by Strathaven’s forwards finally gave Drummond a penalty within range which he duly kicked.
However, this was but a brief respite and Drummond’s attempted clearance in his 22 was charged down. From the scrum the ball was fed to Strathaven’s outside half Coe who made ground courtesy of McLaren’s poor tackling and slipped the ball to his winger who scored in the corner, increasing the home side advantage to seven points. McLaren prop Budge came off for a neck injury requiring further adjustments in the pack with Creevy substituting. Half-time: Strathaven 10, Mclaren 3.
More was restored to the visiting pack at half-time and winger Robertson was substituted by Kirkbright. Despite the handicap of playing into a stiff breeze, Mclaren started the second half brightly. As the ball was moved smartly from the half backs, centre Brooks made a bold charge through the retreating defence, passed to Fisher on the wing who was forced into touch five metres from the line. McLaren’s lineout has been consistently excellent this season and again they executed a perfect catch and drive, enabling hooker Craig to dive over for the try. Substitute forward Creevy converted a splendid kick making it all square at 10 points apiece.
Strathaven added a penalty, drop goal and two more tries to run out comfortable winners at the final whistle by 26 points to 10.
McLaren now have a week to re-group as they prepare to take on Strathendrick at home in what will surely be a pulsating local derby.
Team: McDougall, Robertson, Graham, Brooks, Fisher; Milligan, Drummond; Crichton, Craig, Budge, Robertson,Black, Dykes, A More, R More; Subs: Gilliland, kirkbright, Cameron, Creevy, Williamson, Mckillion, Murrie.
Next Game: McLaren RFC v Strathendrick RF at 3pm tomorrow, Saturday at Dunblane HS.