BT West Regional Shield Quarter-Final



Report by Derek Murdoch

Pictures by Hugh McFedries Photography

NEIL McMillan’s injury-time brace set up a semi-final meeting with Newton Stewart following a dramatic climax to Saturday’s BT quarter-final at Marress.

Irvine, who went into the match not having lost to visitors Allan Glen’s since a 27-18 defeat at the Bearyards in September 2012, trailed 13-5 as the clock ticked over to 80 minutes.

Glens, who had narrowly lost both of the sides’ meetings in the league, led 13-0 after 53 minutes after Alasdair McConnell scored under the posts to add to Scott Thomson’s early penalty and Glen Watt’s drop-goal and must have thought they were on course to end Irvine’s unbeaten run against them.

The home side’s hopes looked to be over when prop David Kirkwood was sent to the sin bin on the hour. But they rallied through fly-half Ryan Elliston’s try five minutes later before McMillan’s late late show.

Irvine had rarely threatened over the piece – indeed, there was little to suggest such a thrilling conclusion to the match was in the offing in the first half – but knockout rugby is all about scoring more points than the opposition.

An ill-disciplined opening saw Thomson kick the visitors into a 3-0 lead after eight minutes.

Irvine came more into the game after this but, despite enjoying plenty of possession in the Glens half, found the visiting defence in determined mood as well as being guilty of giving the ball away.

Eventually play returned to the Irvine half and five minutes before half time Watt dropped his goal to extend Glens’ lead after Thomson had missed two penalty chances in quick succession as the hosts continued to find themselves on the wrong side of referee Ali Steven.

Irvine tried to step it up in the early stages of the second half, and had looked more likely to score before McConnell’s try. It looked at that stage like it was not to be, but then Elliston’s try sparked the most unlikely of comebacks.

The semi-final takes place at Marress this Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm).

IRVINE – Jama Ntenga; Craig Lang, Neil McMillan, Jake Cresswell, Siya Moabi; Ryan Elliston, Robbie McVey; Craig Stevenson, Ross Campbell, Ewan Callaghan, Alan Nugent, Jonathan Goodlet, Ben Sekgobela, Andrew Lang, Ruchin Filander. Replacements: David Kirkwood, Alistair Maxwell, John Carson, Scott Cook.