Tennent's West One



FACING top-of-the-table East Kilbride at Marress, a changed Irvine XV produced a positive performance to shock the visitors.

With several positional changes, two main additions brought stability and self-belief to the team - Paul Johnston at fly-half provided good game management, whilst Chris Raymond at centre produced strong running and New Zealand style determination and flair.

The game started with Irvine pressing on the East Kilbride line, however the first of many penalties conceded by the hosts relieved the pressure on the tourists. The game fell into a to-and-fro battle with neither team able to get the upper hand.

Johnston scored two excellent penalties to put Irvine 6-0 ahead, after which the visitors - having taken a penalty to touch - took possession and pushed over for a try in the corner through Chris O'Neill, successfully converted by Roddy Beaton for a 7-6 lead.

After a lucky escape from a ricochet in midfield, Irvine regained the lead with a strong break and run from Raymond to score a try. Johnston converted, and a few minutes later added a penalty to put the home side 16-7 up, after good forward pressure from the Irvine pack.

Just before half-time, Beaton converted a penalty for the visitors, and they turned around trailing 16-10.

At the start of the second half, things looked ominous with Irvine conceding a slew of penalties and East Kilbride scoring two more converted tries as a result through Lewis Brown and Paul Rosie, taking the score to 24-16 in their favour.

Some spectators who had seen Allan Glen's ruthlessly dismantle Irvine last week feared the worst, but up stepped Raymond to score his second try of the afternoon, which went unconverted.

Then some strong creative play by scrum-half Robbie McVey took the home forwards into the East Kilbride 22, where they forced a penalty which Johnston goaled to square the match at 24-24.

With only one minute left they repeated the trick, as did Johnston to secure the win for Irvine.