BT National Three

GHK 25


IRVINE battled bravely at Old Anniesland but were unable to prevent GHK notching their tenth league victory out of 10 this season.

That result, combined with a shock 12-10 victory for Dalziel over Dumfries at Park Farm, sent the hosts back to the top of BT National while simultaneously leaving the visitors 10 points adrift at the foot of the table.

More worryingly still for Irvine, a 25-0 victory for this week’s visitors Livingston at home to RHC – following on from last week’s 15-12 win over East Kilbride – means they are now a daunting fourteen points adrift of safety, and must start winning urgently if they are to have any chance of remaining in National 3 for next season.

Irvine are also due to entertain fellow relegation candidates Berwick before the year is out.

The weather had been wet, wild and windy in the hours leading up to kick-off, sparking fears that the match – like the corresponding 2nd XV fixture at Marress – might have to be called off.

But the weather relented and the match went ahead on an understandably heavy pitch which made it difficult to get any kind of flowing rugby going.

It took until midway through the first half for the deadlock to be broken. Inevitably, given Irvine’s form, it went to GHK and equally inevitably, given the conditions, it came from a driving maul over the line from a lineout, with prop Andy McCulloch claiming the touchdown.

Full-back Tony Herron missed the conversion, leaving the door open for Irvine to take the lead through Craig Williams penalties in 27 and 34 minutes. But the lead was not to last as flanker Mike Borthwick crossed on the left just before half-time to crown a patient spell of try line pressure for the home side.

Again the try went unconverted, leaving the score at 10-6 to GHK at the interval.

Irvine began the second half determined to regain the initiative, but the hosts extended their lead, with Borthwick crashing over again on the left in 48 minutes – despite a whiff of a knock-on in the build-up – before hooker Gordi Reid secured the bonus point with a carbon copy of McCulloch’s try six minutes later.

Replacement Adam Johnstone scored from another lineout move on the hour to put the home side on easy street, and with Herron’s fifth missed conversion in as many attempts, that was to be the end of the scoring as GHK closed the game out comfortably.

With light levels down to near darkness as the weather threatened to close in again, referee Scott Smith appeared to abandon the match with five minutes remaining.

But the result will stand as more than 60 minutes had been played.

Irvine head coach Blair Skipper said afterwards: "It was a very good performance in the first half and in patches in the second, two very soft tries was the difference. We are at the bottom, but there’s still a long way to go and a lot of points up for grabs, hard work and commitment will get us the results we need. It was always going to be hard to stay in this league with the loss of 10 players over the summer but we are fighters and will fight to the end."

IRVINE: C Williams; I Kerr, N McMillan, R Filander (capt), N Murray; B Skipper, C Turnbull; E Callaghan, B Nesvat, C Stevenson, A Nugent, J Doolan, J Carson, A Lang, K Lang. Reps: L Ferguson, I Allen, T McHarg, M Irvine.

WHILE on Saturday Irvine host Livingston, Marress – who will finished November without a game – are due to entertain their counterparts from Hillhead/Jordanhill, and will have a point to prove after September’s near miss at Hughenden.