BT West One



by Tom Dickson

GARNOCK travelled to Kilmarnock to take on their Ayrshire rivals.

The visitors were looking to consolidate their fourth spot in the West Division One.

Despite the snow and frost of the previous three days Bellsland was in very good condition for the players and spectators alike.

Kilmarnock kicked off towards the shopping mall end of the field and were immediately forced back into their own side of play through the boot of Rory Walker.

Garnock forced a series of line-outs close to the home 22 metre line. They were rewarded for their enterprise in gaining a penalty 32 metres out but near the touchline. Electing to attempt for three points, they were unlucky as the ball drifted wide.

However, with 5 minutes on the watch and still inside the Kilmarnock half Garnock won a set scrum.

Scrum half Keir Walker saw his chance to chip the ball deftly over the scrummaging pack for brother Rory to outpace the cover tacklers to score near the touchline. The conversion was missed but the scoreboard read 5-0 to the visitors.

Play swung from end to end with both squads running the ball at every opportunity. Only fine cover tackling prevented further scoring.

In 20 minutes, Ally McWhirter converted a penalty awarded for a Garnock player straying offside to bring the score to 5-3.

For the next period of play neither side could get the vital breakthrough with the defence tactics proving better than the attacking attempts.

Kilmarnock had telling runs from Conor Turnbull and Scott Brown to keep the home spectators in fine voice.

However, it was another identical piece of Walker-inspired rugby which lead to Garnock’s second try in 34 minutes when the brothers conjured another chip and run move from roughly the same position as the first.

With the conversion missed, the score moved on to 10-3 at the half-time break.

The second half continued in much the same vein as the first, but Garnock were beginning to dominate the line-outs and gaining parity in the set plays.

With 50 minutes played, and Garnock camped near the Kilmarnock line, the referee deemed a Kilmarnock played guilty of preventing a Garnock try. He awarded the visitors a penalty try which was converted by Keir Walker to put Garnock 17-3 ahead.

Three minutes later Garnock scored the bonus point try when Richard O’Neill completed a powerful drive by the Garnock pack to score halfway out.

The conversion was wide but Garnock looked the likely victors at 22-3.

Kilmarnock had other ideas and produced their best rugby of the game so far. Their backs looked fresher than the Garnock defence and after the visitors had been reduced to 13 players when two of their forwards had been yellow-carded for technical offences, the game had a different look in the last 10 minutes.

In a sweeping move which started in their own half, Kilmarnock scored through their right winger, Ciaran Frater, to make the score 22-8 after 70 minutes.

This set up a pulsating last few minutes of the game. The depleted Garnock squad held out until restored to a full complement and then pushed for further scores.

With Garnock in the attack the referee blew for full-time with no further scoring and Garnock winning 22-8 in a bonus point victory.

On Saturday Garnock host high-flying Newton Stewart in their last home game of the season. Kick-off at Lochshore is at 2pm.