(Reported by Tom Dickson)
Garnock travelled to Cambuslang Rugby Club last Saturday to play fellow relegation strugglers for crucial points in their quest to climb away from bottom position.
Garnock kicked off towards the clubhouse end of Coats Park in dry conditions and immediately drove towards the home try line. From a scrum near the 22 metre line Cambuslang elected to pick up and drive forward using their powerful scrum. With only 3 minutes gone they were awarded a scrum within five metres from the Garnock line. Winning the scrum, Garnock drove forward some 20 metres and released the ball to set up good breaks by Rory Walker and Jared Reekie to gain a penalty. They elected to kick for position in the Cambuslang corner. With the lineout won through Johnny Watson, they started to drive forward. The home defence held strong but scrum half Kier Walker spotted a gap and deftly chipped ahead for brother Rory to run onto the ball and score at the posts. He converted and with 11 minutes played Garnock were in front by 7 – 0.
The Cambuslang reply was immediate and they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Euan Johnstone made no mistake with the kick and the score moved to 3 – 7 after 14 minutes.
Play swung from end to end but Garnock seemed to be finding their form and it was no surprise when they rounded off a move involving their backs to allow Reekie to power over at the posts. Walker converted to make it 3 – 14 after 21 minutes.
Garnock were awarded a penalty for a late tackle at the home 22 metre line. They kicked for position, won the resulting lineout and drove towards the Cambuslang try line. The drive was solid and Matt Shiells rounded off the move with a try near the posts. Walker converted to extend Garnock’s leas to 3 – 21 after 33 minutes.
The first half ended with Cambuslang scoring a try through David Bolton to make the half time score 8 – 21.
The second half started with a bang with Cambuslang scoring twice without reply. Alec Bean scored in the 44th minute and Kris Hughes in the 48th minute. Johnstone converted the second and the score moved on to 20 – 21.
Play started to get ragged for some minutes with both squads realising the situation. Both sets of backs tried to run the ball at every chance offered but both defences held off the challenge.
However, in a repeat of the first half, Garnock were awarded a penalty on the Cambuslang 10 metre line. Walker’s accurate kick forced a lineout at the home 5 metre line. They won the ball and drove towards the goal line and again the drive allowed Shiells the chance to score his second and Garnock’s bonus point try near the touchline. The conversion was missed but the score moved on to 20 – 26 after 55 minutes.
At this stage Garnock were the better side but the home squad were still dangerous when they ran the ball through their speedy threequarters.
With 10 minutes remaining, referee Robertson awarded Garnock a penalty 35 metres out and almost in front of the posts. Chris Neill chose to kick for points and relative safety. His kick sailed between the uprights and Garnock nosed further in front at 20 – 29.
This set up a pulsating (for the away spectators) last 10 minutes. Despite strong Cambuslang pressure, Garnock held out and were unlucky not to increase their tally in the last minutes of the game when the forwards drove the opposition almost 60 metres towards the home try line.
With no more scoring Garnock ran out winners in a tight game at 20 – 29 with the Bonus Try point and five league points secured.
Garnock’s squad was (from 1-19) : John Miller, Grant Ruxton, Gavin Paul, Jonny Watson, Alan Miller, Graeme Reid, David Ramsay Miller, Matt Shiells, Kier Walker, Chris Neill, Ally Anderson, Danny Irvine, Jared Reekie, Jordan Taggart, Rory Walker, Luke Wynn, David Miller, Tony Woods and Fraser Brockett.
Next Saturday Garnock take on near neighbours, Kilmarnock, in a “double header” with league points and the Brian Gilbert Memorial Cup as the prizes for the winners. Kick-off is at 3 o’clock.