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Garnock in Narrow Victory

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Garnock in Snatch Victory

(As reported by Tom Dickson)

Irvine Rugby Club made the short journey to Lochshore for their game against Garnock to Hansel in 2017.

This was the return fixture from their previous fixture of October in which Garnock had won easily with a Try Bonus point. Irvine had recruited several new players since that day and a keenly contested game was anticipated and so it proved.

Garnock kicked off on an overcast afternoon towards the town end of Lochshore and were easily repulsed by the visitors. Irvine ran the ball back into the Garnock half but a knock-on halted their progress.

Play swung from end to end without any clear-cut scoring chances being set up. Both defences coped with any threat posed.

On the 10 minute mark Garnock were awarded a penalty near the touchline and 35 metres out. Unfortunately the kick was missed and the game remained scoreless. Play continued in this vein and was concentrated in midfield with both sides trying to run the ball as often as possible. At this stage Garnock were winning most of the lineouts and the set scrums were going with the put-ins.

The scoreboard changed in the 27th minute when the Irvine stand off ,Ryan Elliston, saw a gap in the Garnock defence. He chipped the ball over the advancing cover and won the race to score at the posts He converted the try and Irvine went ahead at 0 – 7.

The pattern of play continued as before but Garnock were beginning to become the dominant side. At half time the score remained 0 – 7 in Irvine’s favour.

Irvine restarted with a long ball into the Garnock half. It was fielded by Jared Reekie and the speedy centre weaved his way to the half way line. He survived a “dodgy” tackle and, with the referee playing advantage, he rounded of a powerful 70 metre run with a try halfway out. Keir Walker converted to tie the scores at 7 points each after 41 minutes played. Irvine rallied once more and were always looking to release their fast wingers. They were rewarded in the 48th minute when left winger Siya Moabi outpaced the Garnock cover defenders to score in the corner. The conversion was missed and Irvine were in the lead at 7 – 12.

Both sides were well matched for the next 20 minutes and scoring chances were few and far between. However, during this spell Irvine were guilty of several technical infringements. They were being penalised regularly.

In the 53rd, 57th and 69th minutes, Keir Walker punished them by converting three of the penalties to make the score 16 – 12 to the home squad.

This set up a tight last 10 minutes.

In the 74th minute Irvine’s Neil McMillan scored a try near the touch line when he was alert enough to evade some poor Garnock defence and run in from 50 metres out. The kick was missed and Irvine moved into the lead at 16 – 17 with five minutes remaining.

Garnock immediately set about pressurising the Irvine pack by driving them back in the set scrums. From one scrum they were rewarded when Irvine illegally played the ball on the ground. From 37 metres out Keir Walker stepped up and converted to put Garnock in the lead once again at 19 – 17.

At the restart Irvine drove towards the Garnock 22 metre area and tried to fashion another score. However, the Garnock squad held out for a hard fought victory at 19 – 17.

The victorious Garnock squad on the day was: John Miller, Richard O’Neil, Luke Wynn, Lewis McGeachy, Jonny Watson, David R Miller, Matt Shiells, Keir Walker, Chrissy Neill, Callum Harris, Jordan Taggart, Jared Reekie, Ally Anderson, Rory Walker, Graeme Reid, David Miller, Alan Miller and Fraser Brocket.

On Saturday Garnock will be involved in another “local derby” when they travel to Bellsland to play Kilmarnock Rugby Club with a 2 o’clock kick-off.

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