Garnock travelled to high flying Newton Stewart RFC in a league match to the place where they suffered their worst defeat last season. The final result demonstrates how much the squad has progressed in the last few months.
The match squad was on similar lines to last week with antipodean Alex Tupou making his debut on the bench.
Newton Stewart kicked off in bright sunshine and immediately attacked, but an early knock-on resulted in referee Mathias awarding Garnock the first scrum which they won. However, the relieving kick was blown straight into touch by the swirling breeze.
Garnock won the line-out via Jonny Watson and Lewis McGeachy powered forward to clear the danger. The Garnock pack took over and gained 30 metres. Rory Walker then turned the home side by kicking deep forcing NS to clear to their 22 metre line.
Garnock won their line-out and were awarded a penalty for an infringement on the jumper. From 25 metre out and near the touch, Garnock’s first attempt at points just failed after 7 minutes.
Play became a bit disjointed for the next 15 minutes with the tight defences well on top. Highlights during this period was the set scrummaging of the Garnock pack in frequently driving their heavier opponents yards back, direct running of the Garnock centres, Jared Reekie and Jordan Taggart, and the willingness of both sides to play an attacking brand of rugby.
One such attack by the NS threequarters, starting inside the Garnock half was finished off by the lock Euan Dewar touching down halfway out. The conversion was missed and Newton Stewart led 5 – 0 after 20 minutes play.
The remainder of the half was played in much the same fashion with both sides trying to attack at every opportunity but with both sets tackling and snuffing out any danger.
It was no surprise that the break came without any further scoring in a game enjoyed by the eager support on the touchlines.
Garnock restarted and started to become more dominant in the set plays but the final pass always seemed to go astray.
Garnock scored in the 68th minute with a try by Rory Walker scored well out. The forwards had won the ball in mid-field and had driven forward with Luke Wynn and John Miller leading. They were forced into touch. The NS put in was deemed ‘not straight’, Garnock won the resulting line-out and fed the ball to their backs, Keir Walker fed the ball out and brother Rory forced his way over the try line to make the score even at 5 apiece.
Three minutes later Garnock were caught offside and, from 32 metres right winger Morton goaled the penalty to make the score 8 – 5.
This set up a pulsating last few minutes with both sides still trying to play an open game. However, both defences were well-drilled and the referee ended the game without any further score.
The narrow loss gains Garnock a ‘Losing Bonus Point’ for being within seven points of their victors keeping them in 4th spot in the league.
Next Saturday 22nd October, Garnock play Oban Lorne at Lochshore with a 3 o’clock kick-off.