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Garnock Exit Shield

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Garnock Exit the Shield

(Reported by Tom Dickson)

Ten seasons after their famous day at Murrayfield, Garnock faced Annan in the current season’s BT Regional Shield competition. Unfortunately, the result means no nostalgic return to Murrayfield this season.

After a week of heavy and sometimes seemingly incessant rainfall, the pitches at Lochshore looked and played superbly, allowing the players no reason to complain about the playing surface.

Garnock’s Keir Walker kicked off towards the town end in overhead dry conditions but slightly greasy underfoot.

The opening scrum and lineout were won “against the head” by Garnock auguring well for the home side.

Annan were awarded a scrum near the half way line. With the scrum won, they elected to run the ball and centre Alex Halliday powered his way through the opposition to touchdown at the posts. Craig McCann converted and, with 6 minutes played, Garnock were behind by 7 points to nil.

From the restart, Annan again ran the ball back inside the Garnock half. A knock-on gave Garnock the scrum. The pack delivered the ball to debutant scrum half, Gregor Armstrong. When centre Jared Reekie received the ball on the 22 metre line, he spied a gap and jinked and weaved his way to score a typical Reekie try at the posts. Walker converted and Garnock were level after 8 minutes.

Play swung from end to end with neither squad looking like breaching the tight defences. At this stage both sides were guilty of poor passing resulting in several players knocking on and setting a spell of several scrums.

From a line out on the Garnock 22 line, Annan won the ball and fed out to McCann. With nowhere to go, the stand off had time to score a drop goal. 22 minutes played and the score became Garnock 7 Annan 10.

On the half hour Garnock drew level when Walker converted a penalty after Annan were caught offside in centre-field some20 metres out.

For the rest of the half, play continued as before but there was no further scoring. Half-time came with the game drawn at 10 points each.

Annan restarted and camped well inside the home half. They scored two converted tries in the 44th and 48th minutes.

The first when McCann rounded off a solo break by touching down at the posts.

The second came from full back, Cairn Wallace, who was fastest to a kick through to score near the posts. McCann converted both to make the score 10 -24 to Annan after 48 minutes.

For the next 15 minutes play swung from 22 line to 22 line with neither side looking like altering the scoreboard. Garnock were looking the better side during this period and gradually forced their way close to the Annan try line. They had several attempts at powering their way over the score line but the Annan defence was solid.

From a scrum 5 metres out the ball was fed to Walker, the stand off saw a gap and sped through to score at the posts for a fine individualistic try. He converted to make the score 17 – 24 after 67 minutes.

This made for an interesting last 10 minutes with Garnock enjoying most of the possession but finding gaps in the Annan defence non-existent.

The game came to a close with Garnock desperately seeking the score which may have kept the dream alive.

After the 80 minutes referee Young blew for the final time and Annan progressed to the Regional semi-final by winning 24 – 17.

The Garnock squad was (1-18):- Wynn, O’Neill, Shiells, McGeachey, Watson, Johnston, DR Miller, Dominy, Armstrong, Walker, Woods, Reekie, Taggart, Brocket, Anderson, Gibb, Jones and Richmond.

Next Saturday Garnock are back on league business when the play host to Carrick of Maybole at Lochshore with a 3 o’clock kick-off.

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