BT National League Three



IRVINE'S BT National Three status is hanging by a thread after West of Scotland inflicted another damaging defeat at Burnbrae.

The visitors led at half time after scrum-half Connor Turnbull added a quick-fire brace to Kevin Lang’s earlier try.

But as happened at Dalziel last month, Irvine suffered a second half collapse.

A 9-9 draw for fourth-bottom RHC at this week’s visitors Berwick means Irvine are now 16 points adrift of safety, and the only glimmer of hope for them is that seven of their remaining league games – including four against teams currently in the bottom half – are at home.

Struggling teams tend not to get the rub of the green in matches, and both of West’s first half tries – scored by scrum-half Harry Brewster and winger Drew Readie in the first quarter – came after dubious knock-on decisions.

For the first, Readie appeared to knock on while fielding an Irvine clearance, but referee Stuart Burns saw no infringement and West scored from the resulting move while the second came from a penalty conceded at the resulting scrum, after full back Craig Williams had been harshly ruled to have knocked a West kick on.

These two tries bookended Kevin Lang’s 10th-minute effort, from a number eight pickup at a close-range scrum.

Irvine grew into the game more despite the concession of the second try, and another knock-on decision went against them just after the half hour when winger Nathan Murray thought he had scored on the left, only to be ruled to have lost control of the ball while touching down.

The visitors’ frustration at the decision was soon forgotten however, when Turnbull crossed twice in quick succession as the tourists finally made their pressure pay. Williams notched his first successful conversion of the afternoon to put Irvine up 17-14 at the interval.

Irvine needed a strong start to the second half to keep their good play going, but by the time the half was five minutes old, substitute Andrew Goodall had scored to regain the lead for the hosts, and Irvine’s David Kirkwood was in the sin-bin. West wasted no time in taking advantage of Kirkwood’s absence, with Goodall scoring a second to secure the bonus point shortly afterwards.

Blair Smith missed his first kick of the afternoon but it scarcely mattered as the tide had decisively turned, and the home side pulled away with a second for Brewster and further tries from winger Fintan Cuthbertson and hooker Darren Allan. Smith rounded off the scoring with the last two conversions.

IRVINE: C Williams; N McMillan, J Cresswell, R Filander (captain); N Murray; B Skipper, C Turnbull; S Docherty, D Kirkwood, E Callaghan, A Nugent, T McHarg, J Carson, A Lang, K Lang. Reps: I Kerr, J Doolan, C Lang, C Stevenson.

Meanwhile Marress were also in action against their West counterparts at Burnbrae, losing their first match since October 75-5. The visitors’ only try was scored by Daniel Dunsmuir. They are next due to entertain bottom side Kilmarnock, who have also not played a competitive fixture since October..