Tuesday, 13 February 2018

West Region Round-up - 10th February 2018

The West Region fixture backlog grew a little bigger at the weekend with only one of six West 1 games being played, however the drama of the West Leagues continues to build. West 1: Most of the West 1 postponements were down to the overnight rain, but the Glens v Helensburgh game was lost as Helensburgh couldn't raise a team. The one game that did take place saw East Kilbride win 58-3 at home to Greenock.
The EK result moves them up to 47 points, 8 behind leaders Carrick, but as they've played two games more, they’re probably just too far off the pace to be considered Championship challengers. Carrick currently hold pole position with Glens in second, two points behind. However, with a game in hand, Glens may be slight favourites. There's still plenty to play for though as most of the top 4 have still to face each other.
A quick review of the remaining games shows that:
  • Garnock and EK have each other to play once.
  • Carrick have Glens to play twice and EK away
  • Glens have the two Carrick games as well as Garnock and EK, and
So plenty of opportunity to see changes to the Championship race, with East Kilbride keeping a close eye on things.
At the other end of the table, it seems almost inevitable that Helensburgh will be relegated but the competition for the second relegation spot is very much alive. Irvine are currently 11th with 9 points, three behind Oban and 8 behind Cambuslang, however they do have games in hand - one on Oban and two on Cambuslang. Each of these three have plenty of games against the championship contenders to come, as well as those against their fellow strugglers, so lots to play for. Wins against top half teams will be hard to come by, but picking up bonus points could prove to be the difference between playing West 1 and West 2 next season. The top 4 all have home games this weekend, and we’re pencilling in bonus point wins for each. At the foot, Irvine are away at East Kilbride and Cambuslang away at Glens, so it will be a struggle for them to add to their points tally. Oban welcome Stewartry to Glencruitten and we've got to go back to October to find an away win for Stewartry, so this is an opportunity for Oban to close the gap on Cambuslang. Not to be blindsided, we’re going to mention the possibility of Helensburgh withdrawing from the league. With four unfulfilled fixtures to their name and four points deducted (plus similar struggles from last season), we have to consider the possibility. Withdrawing from the league would see their results reversed out - this would benefit Cambuslang as they lost to Helensburgh in September, whilst a review of opposition bonus points gained would also be required. West 2: The excitement in West 2 just keeps building. With a defeat to Paisley the previous week, it looked like Lenzie had dropped out of the championship challenge, but then they overturn the result on Paisleys return visit with a 34-12 victory, leaving them only four behind the league leaders, but having played a game more. Cumnock kept up their challenge with a 25 nil victory over Clydebank. Cumnock are also four points behind the leaders, but they do have a game in hand on Paisley.
If a three Club challenge for the title isn't drama enough, we also have to factor in Uddingston and Strathendrick to the equation. Uddingston are nine points behind Paisley having played the same number of games, but crucially they have each other to play back to back at the start of March, whilst prior to that Paisley welcome second place Cumnock this weekend. Endrick are 10 points behind Paisley and currently in sixth place, but they have three games in hand on the leaders so could arguably be favourites for the title. This weekend it's 2nd v 1st, where a win for Cumnock could put them top of the table. Whilst 3rd place Lenzie host 4th place Cumbernauld in what will probably be a fiery local derby, and there's another derby game (well almost) when fifth place Uddy host Strathaven. A bonus point win for Strathendrick against Clydebank will see them jump ahead of Uddy should they slip up against Stathaven.

PointsGames remainingGames v top 6 opponents
There’s plenty of competition in the Championship title race and to add to the entertainment, there'll be two teams up to West 1. With the second promotion spot being up for grabs, Cumbernauld can't be discounted - so the top 6 all have loads to play for. The relegation battle looks just as competitive, though it's really just for the second relegation spot, as winless Birkmyre are 12 points behind Millbrae. Millbrae themselves are 11 behind Clydebank in 9th place, but have two games in hand. Loch Lomond are 5 ahead of Millbrae, but played a game more, whilst they're 6 behind Clydebank but with a game in hand. This weekend sees Millbrae hosting Loch Lomond, with Clydebank away at Strathendrick - unless Clydebank can pull off a shock result, this battle looks like it will be a little tighter come 5pm on Saturday. The other Club to keep an eye on is Waysiders, as whilst they're another four points ahead of Clydebank, they have played two games more. They welcome Birkmyre this weekend, so a predicted win here along with last weekends result against Loch Lomond is probably enough to keep them ahead of the relegation dogfight - but any slip up, and they could be right in the mix. West 3: We had a couple of games off in West 3. PSG were unable to raise a team against Bishopton, whilst the Wigtownshire game v Lanark was called off on Friday before the downpour - this looks like Lanark were unable to field a team as Wigtownshire played a friendly against Dumfries 2s instead. In addition to the two unfulfilled games, Mull travelled to play Hyndland with only 13 players - so we'll need to see if the 76-7 result is allowed to stand (update: Alex from Hyndland has confirmed that Championship Rules allow West 3 games to start with minimum of 12 players). In the two games played, Glasgow Uni Medics regained the league top spot with a 42-7 victory over Lochaber, whilst Shawlands strengthened their hold on fourth spot with a 34-6 win against Moffat.
This is another league with several competitors for the league title. The Medics have moved three points ahead of Bishopton, whilst Wigtownshire are 8 behind, but with two games in hand. Bishopton have this weekend off; the Medics welcome Lanark, and Wigtownshire welcome Moffat. The three challengers each have one another still to play, so it's pretty much all up for grabs. Of their last nine games, Wigtownshire have six at home, which is a big advantage. Bishopton will face both the Medics and Shire at home, but they have to make journeys to Cowal, Lochaber and Mull. The Medics face both Bishopton and Shire away from home as well as having trips to Cowal and Mull. It looks like it's going to be close, so watch for bonus points being the difference come the end of the campaign. The number of unfulfilled matches is not a good indicator for the health of the community game. As we mentioned earlier, Helensburgh look to have missed four games through a lack of players, whilst in West 3, both Lanark and PSG appear to be at four unfulfilled games this season. In addition to these Clubs who are struggling to see out the season, we have several others who have missed one or two games. Enough for now, we’ll pull together an another piece to look at this issue.

Results from 10th February 2018