BT West One



IRVINE are facing a proverbial cup final against East Kilbride at Torrance House after losing a lively derby to Garnock at Marress.

Twice the hosts pegged back the visitors after they took the lead, but they were unable to hit back a third time and Keir Walker’s try – which he converted himself – proved decisive.

Irvine do have the consolation of a losing bonus point, which takes them six points clear of second-bottom Oban with one weekend remaining before the season closes on May 21- but Oban, who travel to Greenock, still have two other games left and Irvine cannot consider themselves safe until the situation around these games is resolved.

Garnock made the brighter start of the two teams, and consequently the bulk of the play was in the Irvine half. It was therefore no surprise when Jordan Taggart claimed the game’s opening try for the tourists just shy of the quarter hour after a patient spell of pressure.

Walker converted for a 7-0 lead, which was to last less than two minutes.

The visitors failed to get the situation under control from the kick-off, and Jake Jacobson scored to crown Irvine’s first attack worthy of the name. Per Jacobson’s conversion squared it up at 7-7.

Irvine came more into the game after this – although Garnock continued to shade the possession and territory – but despite an end-to-end second quarter there was no addition to the score in the first half, a Jacobson penalty miss the closest either side came.

The pattern continued after the break, and the visitors regained the lead on 53 minutes through Richard O’Neill after the touring pack had mauled up to the line from an attacking lineout. Walker was unable to add the conversion.

Back came Irvine though, and they deservedly levelled the scores with 15 minutes remaining when captain Ryan Elliston scored to round off a rare handling move.

Jacobson’s kick could have put the hosts into a precious lead, but it drifted just wide.

Then it was Garnock’s turn to come back, and settle the match through Walker’s try.