Heartbreaking loss for rugby men

Falkirk 17, Arbroath RFC 16

ARBROATH travelled down to Falkirk in the RBS Caledonia League looking to avenge a narrow defeat to the same team in their last league fixture.

Buoyed by a healthy squad travelling to the away fixture and with the return of several key players, hopes were high for a positive result.

Falkirk kicked off and had the better of the opening exchanges, missing a penalty attempt and forcing Arbroath into some heroic defending on their own try line before Balharry was able to clear. A nice counter attack from Cooper caught Falkirk on the back foot for the first time in the match and Balharry converted the resultant penalty to give Arbroath an early 3-0 lead.

Falkirk now knew they were in a match when Cooper set off on another surge and after the ball came loose he hacked it towards the opposition try line and managed to gather it before it ran into touch to plunge over for the first try of the match to make it 8-0.

Falkirk responded with a sustained set of phases which Arbroath struggled to contain, Nakavulevu, G. Irving and the Collins brothers were flying in to tackles before finally buckling to concede their first try, 8-5.

Bruce then had to leave the field injured and was replaced by debutant Radunski who looked promising in his first game in an Arbroath jersey.

In what was becoming a real see-saw battle, Arbroath were now camped on the Falkirk try line. Robertson had a go but was stopped short, the ball was recycled and Jones was then held up before the gaps finally appeared and J. Collins darted over the line for a hard worked try to make it 13-5.

Falkirk replied with another unconverted try just before half-time to narrow the margin, 13-10.

The teams were evenly matched and the game was looking like going down to the wire. The heavier Falkirk players were taking some stopping often taking at least two Arbroath men to drag them down.

The opportunities were there for the fleeter footed Arbroath back line to out-manouevre their opposite numbers though. McKenzie and E Collins were looking dangerous on the break. One particular phase of play saw McKenzie receive the ball in his own 22 and making good progress before offloading neatly to Cooper. Nakavulevu then took a nice pop pass from Cooper before being swamped by three defenders and being turned over.

The Arbroath defence was as impressive as their attack, McIntyre put in a textbook thunderous hit on a much bigger opposition player which had the travelling support roaring their approval. Nakavulevu stroked a penalty from long range to give the visitors some breathing space at 16-10.

With ten minutes to go the worst fears of the visitors came to pass when Falkirk hit back with a try under the posts which was easily converted to take the lead for the first time in the match at 17 - 16.

Arbroath threw everything but the kitchen sink at them, and despite Falkirk conceding a couple of long range penalties just inside their own half, E. Collins and Nakavulevu were unable to convert them before the final whistle to confirm a heartbreaking and undeserved loss for the brave visitors.

Team: Smith, G Irving, Bruce, Radunski, Robertson, Cull, Will, Jones, B Irving, McIntyre, J Collins, Balharry, Cooper, Nakavulevu, McKenzie, E Collins, Wiliams (c), Adair, Saddington, Burns and Bedwell.

Training continues on Thursdays, 6.30 p.m. at RM Condor. All standard of players are welcome, to find out more go to www.arbroathrfc.com or find the club on facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/arbroathrfc.

Tomorrow (Saturday), the team is at home to Crieff RFC with a 3 p.m. kick-off at the High School pitches.