BT National League Three



IRVINE gave their survival hopes a welcome boost with a well-earned victory over fellow strugglers Berwick at Marress.

The Marress side's fate remains out of their hands, but with fourth-bottom RHC’s home match against second-placed Dumfries falling victim to a waterlogged pitch at Barnton, they are now just 11 points off safety with a game in hand, and escape from relegation now looks more within reach than before kick-off

The only downside is that with the league shutting down for Christmas and New Year, Irvine have to wait until January 9 to build on this victory, when they travel to Dumfries. RHC are due to visit Irvine’s next visitors, Haddington, on the same day.

There was an added layer of intrigue in this game, with the SRU having signalled they would be keeping a close eye on it for any repeat of the ill-discipline that marred the earlier meeting of the two sides at Scremerston in September..

But apart from the 11th-minute sin-binning of Craig Stevenson as the tourists sought to equalise Andrew Lang’s early try for the hosts, the match passed without incident.

Berwick had their share of possession and territory, but repeatedly found the home defence equal to the task and only had a try by centre Lee Douglas on the stroke of half-time, converted by Jack Webster, to show for their efforts in the first half.

By that time Irvine had scored two further tries through captain Ruchin Filander - the first coming from close range after both Ian Kerr and Alan Nugent had been ruled held up over the line, followed by a more trademark breeze over the line.

These tries bookended a penalty miss from Webster.

Another player struggling from the kicking tee was Irvine player-coach Blair Skipper, who missed all three conversions into the wind in the first half. But he made up for this two minutes into the second half when he eluded the Berwick defence to score the bonus point try. Connor Turnbull added the conversion to make it 22-7.

After a series of penalties against the hosts, Berwick scored a second try through substitute Geoff Logan.

The hosts finally sealed the game through Neil McMillan’s try with five minutes left. Any lingering doubt was removed when Kevin Lang forced his way over in injury-time.

New signing from New Zealand, Jake Cresswell, was named man of the match for the hosts after a productive afternoon at outside centre on his home debut.

IRVINE – I Kerr; N Murray, J Cresswell, N McMillan, C Lang; B Skipper, C Turnbull; S Docherty, C Stevenson, E Callaghan, K Lang, A Nugent, J Carson, A Lang, R Filander (captain). Reps: L Ferguson, I Allen, D Kirkwood, T McHarg.