RBS National Three


IRVINE face a season-defining visit to Dalziel on Saturday. after being routed by RHC at Edinburgh’s Royal High School.

On their previous visit to Barnton last season, Irvine came home frustrated after missing several penalties in a 6-3 defeat. But it quickly became clear it was not to be so close on this occasion, as the visitors conceded their biggest points tally in an away league match since losing 69-21 at Hillhead/Jordanhill en route to relegation from Premier Three in March 2010.

To make matters worse, a losing bonus point for Irvine’s next opponents, Dalziel, drew the Lanarkshire side level on points and took them off the bottom of the BT National Three table on points difference – meaning Blair Skipper’s side face being cut adrift if they lose.

Irvine looked like making a game of it early on, taking the lead through Alan Nugent’s try after forcing numerous penalties and attacking positions in the RHC half. Craig Williams converted for a 7-0 lead after four minutes.

This lead only lasted as long as it had taken to build though, with the home side squaring the match up through full back Calum Ferguson’s try, converted by Murray Hanning.

This was the cue for the hosts to take control, and Irvine had no answer as tries from flanker Dougie Sutherland and winger Chris McIntyre, book-ended by Hanning penalties, put the hosts in the catbird seat at 25-7 before prop Sean Burns notched the bonus point try on the stroke of half-time.

With Stuart Docherty in the sin bin for an infringement in the build-up to Burns’ try, Irvine faced a difficult start to the second half but after Williams had been thwarted on a dangerous run into home territory, captain Ruchin Filander raced almost half the field to register the opening try of the second which Williams converted.

Docherty’s return to the fray should have given the visitors further momentum, but by the hour mark they had conceded another three tries.

Winger Stuart Morrison crossed on the right, before Hanning scored and converted to round off a length-of-the-field move from an Irvine attack and replacement Johnny Williams hacked through Skipper’s grubbered kick-off and broke clear to touch down.

Williams again found himself in space for Irvine but was unable to find a pass to keep the move going, and again the home side were ruthless in punishing the let-off, scoring through another replacement, Ross Hanning, with Murray Hanning converting to take the score to 54-14.

Irvine put themselves in sight of an unlikely bonus point with seven minutes to go, when John Carson forced his way over from a five-metre scrum after Williams had been ruled held up in the corner. The fourth try failed to materialise however, and the Cougars finished the job with injury time tries from fly-half Ciaron Wood and Johnny Williams.

RHC: C Ferguson; C McIntyre, M Hanning, E Morrison, S Morrison; C Wood, R Buchanan; S Burns, A Marshall, C Mengham, J Wiseman, K Williamson, D Sutherland, A Reen, C Barnett. Reps: R Hanning, J Williams, P Strachen.

IRVINE: C Williams; N Murray, J Armstrong, N McMillan, R Gilmour; B Skipper, C Turnbull; S Docherty, D Kirkwood, E Callaghan, A Nugent, T McHarg, J Carson, R Campbell, R Filander. Reps: C Stevenson, B Nesvat, L Ferguson.

REFEREE – David Harvey .

IT was also a tough day at the office for Marress, who had only a Stephen Paton try, converted by Craig Hobson, to show for their efforts as they fell to a 47-7 defeat to their Glasgow Academical counterparts. They are also next due to travel to Dalziel.