ABT West One



IRVINE made it back-to-back wins at the Bearyards but not before being pushed all the way by home side Allan Glen’s.

In a nail-biting contest that went right down to the wire, Glens opened up an 11-0 lead in the first 25 minutes before tries immediately before and after half time from Craig Lang and Jake Cresswell – both converted by Ryan Elliston – turned the game on its head.

But the sin-binning of David Kirkwood was followed in quick succession by a try under the posts for Kieran Laverty – converted by fly-half Glen Watt – which put the hosts back in front.

Another quickfire double from Ruchin Filander and Neil McMillan as the match entered the last quarter-hour clinched the bonus point and looked to have sealed it – but Glens stuck to their task and mauled over in the corner in injury time to tee up a match-winning conversion.

Watt was unable to land the kick however, and as happened in the corresponding fixture at Marress Irvine won on the last kick of the game.

Next up for Irvine is the first-round Shield tie at Lenzie which was postponed in November – and they will entertain a Glens side with a serious point to prove in the next round should they win through.

The result consolidates sixth place in BT West One for Irvine and while they are not mathematically safe from relegation yet, with seventh-placed Glens at eighth-placed Kilmarnock next and second-bottom Oban due to entertain Kilmarnock after visiting Marress in March, they should have done enough to avoid successive relegations for the first time since entering the national league system in 1989.

Glens opened the scoring through Watt’s penalty after three minutes before Craig Lang threatened to create the try he would score later.

That was the catalyst for a long spell of try line pressure by Irvine, with both McMillan and Elliston going close after good work by Jama Ntenga. But they were punished for their inability to capitalise on the 20-minute mark when Glens built the length of the field and Liam Frame scored from the resulting possession.

Watt missed the conversion, but made amends with his penalty for 11-0 before Siya Moabi crossed on the right for Irvine but lost control of the ball in the act of touching down.

Irvine struggled to get out until just before the break but seized their chance when it came through Lang in injury time. Then, with the second half barely 30 seconds old, Cresswell charged down an attempted clearance before gathering and darting in under the posts.

That could have been the cue for the visitors to take control of proceedings, but it is for a good reason that Carrick and Garnock are the only teams to win by more than seven points at the Bearyards this season.

They had their chances to put Irvine away after regaining the lead, with Moabi’s Glens counterpart in particular having a guddle of his own when he should have scored, before Filander’s try crowned a length-of-the-field move from a defensive lineout.

The home side continued to press even after falling further behind however, and after Alan Nugent was carded for collapsing a Glens maul as they turned up the heat, they had their try to boil it all down to Watt’s final kick.

IRVINE – Jama Ntenga; Craig Lang, Neil McMillan, Jake Cresswell, Siya Moabi; Ryan Elliston, Robbie McVey; Ben Auld (captain), Ross Campbell, Ewan Callaghan, Alan Nugent, Jonathan Goodlet, Ben Sekgobela, Andrew Lang, Ruchin Filander. Replacements: David Kirkwood, Craig Stevenson, Tommy Turner, John Carson.

Meanwhile the 2nd XV had a somewhat easier time of it, cruising to a 67-0 home win over their Kilmarnock counterparts in a match which ended 15 minutes early due to a serious neck injury to one of the visiting players.

The player is understood to be recovering well in hospital, and all at Irvine RFC wish him well.