So Near But ………..
So Near But …
Garnock welcomed the undefeated league leaders in the form of Glasgow Accies to Lochshore last Saturday in the third encounter between the clubs this season. Accies had won the two previous games and came to North Ayrshire expecting a resounding victory.
Garnock were looking to improve on previous performances.
Accies kicked off towards the Beith end and immediately put pressure on the Garnock defence. They made thrust after thrust to the try line but the home defence were strong in their tackles to thwart the raiders.
It wasn’t until the 5th minute that the pressure was finally eased when stand off Chris Neill kicked a free kick into the Accies 22 metre area. The lineout was won by Jonny Watson and Garnock drove forward. Referee McHenry deemed the Accies backs had encroached offside and awarded Garnock a penalty on the 22 metre line half way to touch. Keir Walker bisected the posts with his kick and after 6 minutes Garnock led 3 – 0.
Play settled into a pattern with both sides running the ball at every opportunity but the tackling by both was rock steady, with Garnock’s Ally Anderson and Jared Reekie prominent.
On the 16 minute mark, Garnock were awarded a penalty on the Accies 10 metre line. Walker elected to attempt the 40 metre kick which, to the delight of the Garnock support, sailed over the bar to put the home side 6 – 0 in front.
Play ebbed and flowed to the same pattern as before with some high class rugby being played by both squads. In the 22nd minute the Accies Chris Rhodes converted a penalty from 35 metres to reduce Garnock’s lead to 6 – 3. He repeated the same on the stroke of half time to tie the scores at 6 all.
The second half started with Garnock on the attack. Again Neill kicked Garnock into position at the Accies 22 metre line and again they won the lineout. However Accies defence held strong and they were able to surge towards the Garnock line.
They were rewarded when Garnock were penalised for a scrummage infringement in front of the posts. Rhodes converted and Accies went in front at 6 – 9 after 47 minutes.
With both sides running the ball at every chance, the game was very entertaining for the crowd of supporters.
In the 51st minute, Accies won a scrum in midfield and spun the ball through several pairs of hands to release Kerr Malcolm who outpaced the covering defence to score a try close to the posts. Rhodes converted and Accies moved into a 16 to 6 lead.
Four minutes later Walker converted a penalty from 35 metres to make the score 9 – 16.
For the next 15 minutes the game continued as before with Accies posing the more dangerous threats and Garnock defending well. The Garnock attacks were also threatening but defended well by Accies.
In the 66th minute, Garnock were reduced to 14 players when one of their forwards was yellow carded for a scrummage infringement. This allowed Accies to apply more pressure on Garnock. They seemed to have held out until the referee penalised Garnock in front of the posts some 30 metres out. Rhodes converted and the score moved to 9 – 19 in Accies favour.
The final five minutes saw Garnock applying pressure on the Accies defence. Their threequarters were always testing their opponents with Reekie, Anderson, Jordan Taggart and Fraser Brockett prominent. The forwards were in command of the scrums and lineouts providing the ammunition for the backs. However the Accies defence was well-drilled and managed to hold out to full time for the narrow victory.
This was one of the best games seen at Lochshore this season played by two squads who wanted to entertain the crowd. Performances like this by the Garnock squad should relieve the spectre of relegation over the remaining five league games left.
Next Saturday, 19th March, Garnock will be in Dublin supporting the international squad to victory against the Irish. League business returns to Lochshore on 26th with a game against Lenzie.
Published by Tom Dickson