BT West One



STRUGGLING Irvine are bottom of BT West One after a costly defeat at Oban.

Saturday’s match featured the league’s bottom two teams, with Irvine ahead on points difference, and it was the home side who pulled out the required performance to cut the visitors adrift.

Kris Finneran’s side will face another battle of the basement at Ardencaple on Saturday when they play third-bottom Helensburgh, rounding off their early season run of six successive away games.

After that, Irvine have six of their next eight games at home following the completion of refurbishment works at Marress.

Oban started brightly and within two minutes had the lead through their nemesis in last season’s 16-10 defeat, Finlay Carmichael, who landed a penalty.

The game settled down into a war of attrition after this, with neither side wanting to give anything away given their respective league positions. It was the hosts who played the better of what rugby broke out, and it was no surprise when they extended their lead through Jack Strachan’s try, converted by Carmichael to take them into double figures.

Irvine stepped it up after this and their chances received a boost on the half hour when the home number eight was yellow-carded after a series of collapsed scrums. The tourists capitalised almost immediately, Craig Williams taking advantage of the extra space to cross.

He was unable to add the conversion however, and Oban saw out the power play with few genuine alarms, with Carmichael even adding a penalty on the stroke of half time after a high tackle.

Irvine began the second half as Oban had the first, except that when they were presented with a penalty in an almost identical position, which would have got them back to 13-8, they opted for a scrum from which they failed to score. Carmichael punished this let-off at the other end 10 minutes in with a penalty of his own to make it 16-5.

On the hour this became 21-5 when flanker Cammy Smith touched down the hosts’ second try of the afternoon. Carmichael’s conversion hit the post.

This would have been a pivotal moment had Irvine come back to win, which briefly looked like happening shortly afterwards when John Carson notched their own second after a series of pick-and-drives on the Oban line.

Williams’ conversion was to be the last time Irvine worked the scorers though, and with ten minutes to go Oban made the game safe with a third try through Lorne MacLachlan, converted by Carmichael to round off the scoring.

IRVINE: C Williams; S Cook, N McMillan, R Elliston (captain), P Paterson; S Buswell, J Carson; K McCrae, B Auld, E Callaghan, S Thomson, A Nugent, C Mills, A Lang, J Doolan. Subs: C Stevenson, J Alan.

Meanwhile the 2nd XV similarly struggled against their West of Scotland counterparts at Burnbrae, going down 50-10. Jamie Muir scored their only try, converted by Stuart Tracey who also scored a penalty. They are next due to travel to Cartha Queen’s Park and Hillhead/Jordanhill before they open their own home campaign on October 21.