BT National League Three



IRVINE pulled off a shock win at Perthshire to keep their fading hopes of avoiding relegation alive.

Andrew Lang was the pick of the scorers with a brace, while Nathan Murray and player-coach Blair Skipper each registered singles, with Skipper also scoring an early penalty.

Realistically however, Irvine remain odds-on for the drop, with wins for Dalziel and next weekend's visitors Livingston meaning the gap to safety has only narrowed from 11 points to nine with four games remaining.

After the visit of Livingston, Irvine entertain Orkney in their final home game of the season, before making their postponed trips to Dumfries and Orkney.

The game was less than two minutes old when Skipper edged Irvine in front with his penalty after a deliberate knock-on in midfield by the hosts.

The visitors forced another penalty after good work by Jake Cresswell and Murray down the left, but Skipper was unable to find the target on this occasion.

Perthshire twice in quick succession came close to a try before Murray picked off a loose pass, and raced upfield to set the platform from which Lang scored his first try on the right. Elliston took over the kicking duties but had no better luck with the conversion.

Murray crossed on the right himself just before the half hour, after more good work in the backs, to take the score to 13-0. Craig Hobson became Irvine’s third different kicker of the match but was also unable to land the goal in the tricky conditions.

Irvine could have had twenty points on the board by now, but remained in the ascendancy despite Graham Clow getting the hosts off the mark with a penalty and scored again on the stroke of half time when Skipper darted up the outside on the right to notch Irvine’s third.

The sides turned round with Irvine leading 18-3 but as with Irvine’s last win over Haddington at Marress, things got more difficult for the visitors in the second half as the cards started flying.

Alan Nugent was the first to walk in 52 minutes, just before Shire crossed for their first try of the afternoon and reduce the deficit to 10 points.

Irvine saw out the remainder of the power play without conceding again, and were then given a numerical advantage of their own which only lasted five minutes before Jamie Doolan became the second visiting player to go to the bin.

The hosts took advantage of the let-off shortly afterwards, after a patient spell of try-line pressure.

Graham Clow’s conversion brought the hosts back to within three points, and his brother Duncan could then have put the hosts in front for the first time after intercepting a wayward Irvine pass, but he lacked support and was eventually forced into touch by Jake Cresswell.

Taylor McHarg became the third Irvine player to take an enforced break with two minutes to go, but the hosts were unable to capitalise and Lang sealed the game with a carbon copy of his first try in injury-time.

IRVINE: C Hobson; N McMillan, J Cresswell, R Elliston, N Murray; B Skipper, J Carson; S Docherty, D Kirkwood, E Callaghan, T McHarg, A Nugent, I Allen, A Lang, R Filander (capt). Reps: J Doolan, Z Hamilton, C Williams, J Murdoch.

MAN OF THE MATCH – Ruchin Filander (Irvine).