BT West One



IRVINE rounded off a difficult season by rallying for an unlikely bonus point in defeat at Torrance House.

The hosts had their own four-try bonus point in the bank by half-time, but Alan Nugent got Irvine on the board early in the second half and although East Kilbride added a further three tries to lead 51-7, it was the tourists who finished the stronger, running in late tries through Neil McMillan, Jake Jacobson and Ruchin Filander to give the scoreline a more respectable look.

Craig Hobson and Per Jacobson shared the conversions, apart from that of McMillan’s try which he unsuccessfully attempted himself.

Irvine made the trip to Lanarkshire knowing they were safe in BT West One for next season, with Oban’s relegation having been confirmed at a meeting of league organisers during the week.

They will be joined by Dalziel, newly relegated from National Three, as well as newly-promoted Strathendrick and Cumnock – the latter’s presence ensuring Irvine can still look forward to six Ayrshire derbies with Carrick taking Dalziel’s place in National Three.

These two sides will also meet in the league for the ninth season in a row, extending Irvine’s longest streak to date of playing a particular opponent.

The tone was set for the first half when Irvine infringed in their own half from the kick-off to give the hosts an easy three points.

The remainder of the first period was characterised by indiscipline and slack defence on the part of the visitors as the home side helped themselves to four tries as well as another penalty to lead 32-0 at the interval.

Irvine improved after the break, and Nugent forced his way over to crown Irvine’s first serious pressure on the East Kilbride line early on.

Despite the loss of a player to the sin bin as Irvine continued to turn up the heat, the hosts remained the more clinical in attack and defied their numerical disadvantage to extend their lead to a decisive 51-7.

But another yellow card, coupled with the hosts taking their foot off the gas, allowed Irvine to belatedly seize the initiative, playing some wonderful handling rugby as McMillan, Jacobson and Filander crossed in quick succession to secure a bonus point which was fitting reward for their perseverance, and saw them end a season of struggle on a high.