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So close but yet so far

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Garnock travelled the short distance to take on Glasgow Accies at New Anniesland last Saturday in a Preliminary Round of the BT Regional Shield competition.

After their pre-season preparations the Garnock coaches were looking forward to testing their squad against a side that inflicted two defeats on the valley fifteen last season. Games against Glasgow are normally close hard-fought encounters.

Garnock kicked off on what is probably one of the best playing surfaces in Scotland and immediately camped inside the home 22 metre area. The Accies side showed their intent by relieving the Garnock pressure in their willingness to run themselves out of trouble.

With 9 minutes on the clock, Garnock won a scrum on the left near the touchline. The ball was fed to Greg Matthew and the stand off weaved his way through the home defence to score a try near the posts. He completed the move by converting his try to put Garnock in the lead 0 – 7.

Penalties were swapped by the teams but each failed to move the score along.

In the 14th minute Glasgow tried to break out from their own half but Jordan Taggart was alert and intercepted a wayward pass near the halfway line. The speedy centre ran in to score a fine individualistic try close to the posts. Matthew converted to make the score 14 nil for Garnock

Play settled down for the next few minutes and was mainly concentrated in mid-field. During this period the Glasgow pack were the more dominant in the set and loose but Garnock were ruling the lineouts through their jumpers.

In the 18th and 22nd minutes Accies scored two tries when their fast backs created two overlaps for the left winger, Gus McCallum, to score well worked tries of which one was converted by stand off Chris Rhodes to make the score 12 – 14 in Garnock’s favour.

Unfortunately after 25 minutes Garnock lost stand-off Greg Matthew to a serious looking knee injury resulting in shuffle of the back line and the introduction of Danny Irvine off the bench

Two minutes before the break Garnock were caught offside in front of their posts 22 metres out. Rhodes converted and moved into the lead 15 – 14. On the stroke of half-time, Rory Walker replied in like fashion to restore Garnock’s lead to 17 – 15 at the end of the half.

Accies came out strongly in the second half, won a penalty almost immediately, Rhodes converted it and they moved in front at 18 – 17.

This seemed to spur on the Glasgow side and they had their best spell of the game so far. In the 50th minute of the game Rhodes jinked his way to the posts for a try followed by another McCallum try in the 53rd minute both converted by Rhodes to put Accies 32 – 17 in front.

Garnock rallied and in the 61st minute their pressure was rewarded when Alan Miller was on hand to finish off a powerful rucking movement by the Garnock pack with a try converted by Matthew. Score became 32 – 24 for Glasgow.

With 65 minutes played, Garnock were reduced to 14 players when their full back was harshly sin binned for not rolling away – the victim of multiple Garnock offences.

Accies immediately took advantage of their numerical superiority to score and convert a try. 67 minutes played and Accies in front 39 – 24.

Garnock applied more forward pressure and started to dominate scrums and lineouts. This dominance was rewarded when Paul Johnson burst through several would-be tackles to score at the posts. The try was converted by Walker and the score moved on to 39 – 31 to Glasgow after 70 minutes.

In the final 10 minutes Garnock maintained their dominance. In the 73rd minute the Garnock pack won a scrum, Johnson fed Walker and the stand off meandered over for a try at the posts. He converted and the score became 39 – 38 for Glasgow Accies.

Garnock continued to press for their next score. The Garnock front row were winning the set scrums at will. The rest of the pack snuffed out any threat from Accies and the Garnock backs tested their opposition at every opportunity but the Glasgow defence held firm.

Garnock’s last chance came in the last seconds of the game. Accies failed to roll away from the tackle area. Garnock were awarded a penalty. Walker’s kick from well out looked good but unfortunately hit a post and was cleared. The referee blew for full time and Glasgow Accies scrapped through by 39 points to 38 points.

This was a very good game from the spectating point of view with both sides showing good spells of rugby. The Garnock squad can be confident that in playing to this standard they should have a big say in the outcome of the promotion battle in their league.

Garnock’s next game is against Helensburgh on September 12th at Lochshore with a 3 o’clock kick-off.

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