Lenzie moved back into second place with a 74 nil victory over Clydebank, whilst Paisley won 101 nil against Birkmyre. This puts Paisley four points clear of Lenzie, with a game in hand, whilst they’re 7 ahead of Cumnock and 11 ahead of Strathendrick. Cumnock and Endrick both have games in hand on the leaders, so they look to be Paisleys main challengers for the title.
However, like Oban in West 1, Strathendrick now don’t have enough Saturdays left to complete their season (unless they get permission from Murrayfield to play into the close season).
With four games in hand, our favourites for the top spot are still Strathendrick, but with Paisley and Cumnock still to play (Paisley twice), it’s not guaranteed.
The battle for second place is extremely tight, so much so, we’ve failed to make a call on it, but on the website RugbyFan has taken a shot. RugbyFan agrees with us that Strathendrick are favourites for the title, and have gone with Cumnock in second, Lenzie in third and Paisley in fourth.
The relegation battle looks to be about who fills the second drop spot, but there’s a couple of variables in there we need to consider.
Dalziel won again in National 3, making it 3 wins from the last 3, moving them out of the relegation spot, so an 11th place in West 2 may not mean relegation. A second variable to arise following last weekends game is that both Millbrae and WD were unable to field a team.
For WD, it looks like their second offence this season, so they’ll probably receive a two point deduction, dragging them into the 11th spot battle. Millbrae have already been docked 7 points this season, so this could be their fourth failure to field a team.
Based on what happened in West 3 to Lanark and Police Scotland, this may not be good news for Millbrae. Equally, it may not be good news for Birkmyre who have gone through the season winless, conceding 639 points in 15 games (their remaining games still include Cumnock, Lenzie and Strathendrick twice). Relegation to West 3 would surely not be the end of the world for Birkmyre.
To add to their woes, Millbrae (like Oban and Strathendrick), have run out of available Saturdays to complete their fixtures. If Millbrae do not see out the season, then this will be a game changer for the league title, as Millbrae have beaten Paisley and drawn with Cumnock - reverse out those results, and things get even closer at the top.
But it should come as no surprise that Clubs at grassroots level struggle to field teams on 6 Nations weekends, as our cousins higher up the pyramid have also struggled.
In National Reserve 1, Heriots and Melrose both failed to field teams this weekend, whilst last weekend it was Ayr and Stirling County who could not fulfil their participation agreement commitments.
It’s strange that there’s no points deductions and re-arranged games at this level, just 28 nil results. Having also failed to fulfil their game on 11th November, we wonder if Stirling County will be threatened with removal from the league if they fail to field a team this weekend?
Should another Club drop out of the league, then we’ll be down to 32 teams. If none of those removed from the league rejoin next season, then we could be into the territory of a league restructuring - could we move back to 10 team leagues (with a 12 team third conference league being the way to fix the numbers). There were those who warned against 12 team leagues, but will those Clubs who forced through the change be willing to accept that it’s the on-field activities that should take priority, not bar revenue?