BT West One



IRVINE have got off to a winning start under new head coach Kenny Glen - but not before being pushed all the way by East Kilbride at Marress.

Glen, who began the season as an assistant coach and was also previously number two under Jim Barrie, stepped up to the top job after Kris Finneran paid the price for a run of six successive defeats which saw the team knocked out of the Shield and sink to bottom spot.

After a see-saw first half, the visitors looked to be on easy street after centre Calum Simpson intercepted a loose pass and raced clear to score.

Irvine rallied to regain the lead through tries by Robbie McVey and Neil McMillan, the former converted by Craig Williams, but East Kilbride finished strongly and had a chance to snatch victory with a penalty at the death.

Ethan Aitken’s kick hit the near post and rebounded to safety, confirming Irvine’s first league win of the season in their first home game.

The result means Irvine – who next travel to Garnock before entertaining Stewartry and Kilmarnock before the international break – move off the bottom of the table.

Both teams started brightly but Irvine settled first, and captain Ryan Elliston led by example to elude the visiting defence to claim the opening try, converted by Williams.

The visitors raised their game and had their reward on the quarter-hour when number eight Roddy Beaton crossed after a series of raids in the Irvine half.

Irvine stepped things up after this, and after a good spell of possession in the East Kilbride 22 which saw the home forwards maul up to the line, Ross Campbell crossed on the left after a series of pick-and-drives.

Williams was unable to add the conversion on this occasion, and the hosts suffered a further setback just before the half-hour when Jamie Doolan was sin-binned for a no-arms tackle.

Irvine held on for most of the power play, but the visitors’ pressure eventually paid off when full back Mark Ellison worked his way clear to score next to the posts, giving Blackwood an easy conversion to square the match at the break.

This would be Blackwood’s last contribution from the kicking tee, with Aitken taking over for the second half.

He converted an early penalty chance to edge the tourists in front, before converting Simpson’s try from in front of the posts.

The visitors spurned numerous other kickable penalties in favour of kicking to the corner, but they were unable to capitalise, ensuring the game ultimately came down to Aitken’s unsuccessful last-minute effort – to the palpable relief of the Irvine players.

IRVINE: C Williams; J Carson, N McMillan, R Elliston (captain), P Paterson; S Buswell, R McVey; K McCrae, R Campbell, L Ferguson, J Doolan, S Thomson, C Maxwell, J Goodlet, R Filander. Subs: C Stevenson, A Nugent, C Lang.

Meanwhile it was another tough day at the office for the 2nd XV at Hughenden, where they only had two Chris Hobson penalties to show for their efforts in a 52-6 defeat against their Hillhead/Jordanhill counterparts. They are next entertain Dalziel in their own first home game.