BT West Regional Shield Semi-Final



SIYA Moabi scored the only try as Irvine advanced to the BT West Regional Shield final at Marress.

The hosts edged out BT West One champions Newton Stewart in the lowest-scoring match at Marress for nearly six years to set up a final against either Oban or Carrick on Saturday, March 11. The other semi-final will be played on March 4.

As befits their status as league champions, Newton Stewart largely bossed the game in the first half. But Irvine have become masters at soaking up pressure under Kris Finneran, and it is testament to this defensive steel that despite monopolising possession and territory in the Irvine half, the visitors only sporadically looked like scoring.

They eventually got off the mark on the half hour when former Irvinite Jamie Muir scored the second of two kickable penalties.

That could have been the cue for Newton Stewart to kick on but Irvine finally got it together, and five minutes later Jama Ntenga drew the covering defence before sending Moabi into the right corner to crown a slick handling move.

Moabi was at the heart of the action again as Irvine turned up the heat in the dying stages of the half, but they were unable to extend their lead and the sides turned around at 5-3.

The hosts picked up where they left off in the second half, but despite playing the better rugby they were frustrated by a combination of good visiting defence and poor execution and it became an increasing worry that they might pay for their failure to put their opponents away.

The tourists looked to have their chance when they kicked a penalty into the Irvine half and laid siege to the line from the resulting lineout, but the hosts turned the ball over and Alistair Maxwell was into the Newton Stewart half by the time the visitors were able to get bodies back to force him into touch.

They had one more chance with minutes remaining when they mauled toward the Irvine line from another penalty, but again the home defence were equal to the task and the attack was repelled.

It only remained then for the hosts to run the clock down for a place in the final.

Irvine now have a week’s break before travelling to Annan for their penultimate league game.

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