Oban v Garnock
Garnock in Fight Back
Last Saturday Garnock travelled the 200 mile round trip to Oban to continue their league quest for points in their bid to escape the relegation zone in Division 1.
The squad was one of the youngest to represent the valley side in many years with three of last year’s successful U18s squad making their 1st XV debuts.
The game started in fine sunny but bitterly cold conditions with an Oban kick-off. They immediately attacked the Garnock 22 metre area after Garnock were caught offside by kicking to touch for position. They won the lineout and drove to the try line with their huge forward pack where prop Tommy Sutherland scored near the posts. Finley Carmicheal converted the try and with 3 minutes on the watch, Garnock were behind 7 – 0.
Play settled down for a short spell but Oban were dominating the set scrums and their forwards were running hard at the Garnock defence. They scored their second try in the 12th minute through Dominykas Matuzevicius followed by Carmicheal’s conversion to make the score 14 – 0.
Worse was to follow when they repeated the dose with flanker Lorne Maclachlan and Carmicheal added another seven points in the 19th minute. With a quarter of the game gone Garnock found themselves 21 points behind.
At this stage Garnock had defended well but the powerful running of the home forwards had taken their toll. The Ayrshire squad started to get more of the ball. They began to dominate the lineouts through Johnny Watson and Alan Miller.
On a rare foray into the home 22 metre area, Garnock won another lineout some 8 metres from the Oban try line and in a well-worked move the ball was fed to Graeme Reid, on his seasonal debut, who powered over the line to score. 25 minutes gone, but Garnock were on the scoreboard at 21 – 5.
Play began to open up a bit with Garnock starting to show more enterprise. Their forwards were getting more of the set scrums and they continued to dominate the lineouts. Most of the play was centred between the two 22 metre lines but both defences were dealing with any threats posed and the half concluded with Oban in front at 21 – 5.
The second half started with Garnock on the attack. When Oban strayed offside Rory Walker elected to kick to touch for position to keep the pressure on the home side. With the lineout won the forwards drove towards the scoring area with Johnny Watson and Jamie Holmes leading the attack. However, the home defence held firm.
Again play swung from end to end with both sides playing some attractive rugby to keep the spectators on edge. The plus points for Garnock during this period were a brilliant steal by David Ramsey Miller followed by a 20 metre run towards the Oban try line, a mazy run by Kieran Walker on his debut which highlighted his potential and the stout defending of the Garnock threequarters.
Oban were trying to press for further scores but the boot of Rory Walker kept them at bay. This was the best passage of the game so far with both sides willing to run the ball.
Oban were awarded a penalty well inside the Garnock half. They kicked for touch, won the line out and drove closer to the Garnock try line. They fed the ball out to the backs and winger Vasil Borisov outran the cover to score in the corner. With 66 minutes Oban went 26 – 5 in front.
This seemed to spur Garnock to greater efforts and they were rewarded two minutes later when Johnny Watson latched onto a loose ball. He dodged his way past several would-be tacklers and scored near the touchline. Keir Walker converted to make the score 26 – 12 after 68 minutes.
Garnock dominated the play for the rest of the game and camped well inside the Oban half. Thrust after thrust for the next score was ably handled by the home squad. With time running out and Garnock looking for a losing bonus point they kept the pressure on the home try line.
Their discipline held good and, with the clock in the red area, they were rewarded when Richard O’Neill rounded off the scoring with a try near the touchline. The conversion was missed and the game finished 26 – 17 in Oban’s favour.
This was Garnock’s best display in several games. Due to injuries and some players being unavailable, Garnock introduced three young players in Keir Walker, Fraser Ewington and Fraser Brocket to 1st XV rugby. All showed their class and potential. Graeme Reid scored a typical try on his return after injury and the evergreen Alan Brocket, appearing alongside his son for the first time at 1st XV level, showed he can still play at this level.
If the squad keep playing this level and with a little bit of luck they should escape relegation and move up the table.
The Garnock squad was (No.1 -18) : John Miller (Capt), Richard O’Neill, Grant Ruxton, Johnny Watson, Jamie Holmes, Graeme Reid, David Ramsey Miller, Alan Miller, Paul Johnson, Rory Walker, Ross Johnson, Chrissie Neill, Jared Reekie, Keir Walker, Tony Woods, Alan Brocket, Fraser Brocket and Fraser Ewington.
Next Saturday Garnock travel to Helensburgh for a league game with a 3 0’clock kick-off.
Reported by Tom Dickson