Champions — again!

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WHITECRAIGS were crowned Premier Three champions on Saturday and have now been promoted for the fourth year in a row.

The boys in blue were made to fight for the silverware as second placed Hamilton tried to spoil the party.

However, undefeated Craigs were too strong for the visitors, winning 30-16.

The visitors put pressure on the Craigs defence from the first kick-off.

A successful penalty after five minutes gave Hamilton the lead and then moments later a Jamie Howarth pass was intercepted, giving the visiting winger a clear run to the line.

Trailing by eight points, Craigs had barely touched the ball and had to rely on good fortune to get back into the game.

A storming run by Steven Whittet put his side deep into Hamilton territory and when Craig Percival charged down an attempted clearance kick, the centre was left with the simplest of touch downs.

With just a point separating the teams it was the visitors who were in the ascendency as they looked to stretch their advantage.

And it seemed Hamilton’s task had been made easier after half an hour when Howarth was sent to the sin bin for a cynical trip.

But Craigs held firm with 14 men and only conceded three more points before the break.

Coach John Shaw changed the game plan at half time, with the ball being kept tight in the forwards, and the tactical switch paid off almost immediately.

A driving maul saw hooker Jamie Christine crash over for a try, giving Craigs a one point lead.

The third try for the hosts came after 50 minutes when Jamie Howarth burst through to make it 17-11.

Ryan Moffat then kicked a penalty, before Nicky Blamire scored the bonus point try after another driving maul.

Hamilton grabbed a consolation score after 60 minutes and Moffat added three points to end the scoring at 30-16.

The all-conquering West Lodge side will be aiming to end the season undefeated before preparing to mix it with some of the biggest clubs in Scottish rugby next year.

Also in premier three, third placed Cartha kept promotion within the realms of mathematical possibility with a 60-23 bonus point win against visiting Haddington.

On Saturday, Whitecraigs travel to Dumfries and Cartha visit Morgan (both kick-off 3pm).