One down two to go
HELENSBURGH 13 GARNOCK 21
Last Saturday Garnock travelled ‘doon ‘ the water for a crucial West Div 1 with fellow relegation candidates Helensburgh.
The visitors had a strong squad and coach Gavin Blackburn was rewarded with four points after a gutsy performance. Rory Walker was reinstated to standoff,partnering his younger brother Keir and along with number 8 Matt Shiells were instrumental in securing the victory.
In bright though chilly conditions , Helensburgh had the advantage of the wind and slope in the first half. With both sides wearing similar coloured strips the spectators had difficulty in deciphering the players, but the referee had no problems and awarded Garnock a penalty for offside after 1 minute converted by Rory Walker.
The home kicker soon missed a similar effort and Helensburgh had the better of the next 20 minutes without scoring. Garnock’s defence was sound with Jared Reekie and Jordan Taggart outstanding and after 28 minutes full back Chrissy Neill broke out of his 22 metre zone into the Helensburgh half.He was stopped illegally and Walker kicked the penalty for Garnock to lead 6-0.This was still the score at half time despite more pressure from the homesters.
Garnock started the second half well, increasing their lead to 9-0 immediately from a Walker penalty. This seemed to rouse the home team with their usual vociferous support and their right winger squeezed in for a try in the corner. This was converted brilliantly by the standoff who also added 2 penalties for Helensburgh to lead 13-9.
With 20 minutes to go Garnock had to dig deep,introducing substitutes David Miller and veteran Grant Ruxton. Rory Walker started to use the breeze to good effect kicking well to both corners and they were rewarded. From a lineout fully 30yards from the try line,Johnny Watson as usual secured possession and the pack rumbled over the line,Matt Shiells gaining his 13th touchdown of the season. Rory Walker converted for Garnock to regain the lead 16-13 and their forwards were now dominating their tiring opponents.
After another good forward drive, substitute Luke Wynn was held up over the line.But they were not to be denied and from the 5 metre scrum Alan Miller forced his way over for a unconverted try.
Garnock played out the last 5 minutes denying Helensburgh an important bonus point,winning 21-13. This victory gave them a lifeline in the relegation struggle though they still need to win the next 2 Saturday home matches versus Oban and Lenzie, both kicking off at 3pm at Lochshore.
Garnock squad. Neill, Anderson, Taggart, Woods, R.Walker, K.Walker, J.Miller, O’Neil, F.Miller, Watson, A.Miller , Ramsay-Miller, Shiells ,Reid. Subs. Ruxton, D.Miller, Wynn, Halbert.