Carrick travelled the winding, twisty and bumpy hill road to Newton Stewart and produced a performance to match the journey winning 32-20.
The Rick support was there in numbers and was heartened by their favourites’ early start but they were brought back down to earth when Jamie Muir caught the Carrick defence sleeping and with a simple dummy scored under the posts. The conversion was good.
The visitors looked the more polished side and within six minutes had taken the lead through a Connor Wyllie penalty and a McCulloch unconverted try straight out the play book.
The game as a spectacle deteriorated as both sides found it difficult to put together any phases of play as knocks on, forward passes, infringements minor and major littered the play.
In the 25th minute Clark brightened the gloom with a fine unconverted try on his opposite wing after Alexander had made the initial break through.
With the half drawing to an end another Carrick attack broke down, the home side hacked on, but Carrick’s scramble defence halted the rush on the try line.
From the ensuing scrum a simple pick up at the scrum base, a pass to the scrum half opened the way for the left winger to score.
The second half began much like the first half with a Newton Stewart try countered by a Clark try but when the home side took the lead with a penalty to give them a 20 points to 18 lead the chance of a victory and a second place finish in the league seemed distant.
As Carrick’s efforts cranked up the stranglehold Newton Stewart had on the game tightened.
It was another error, this time by the home side, that gave McCulloch the chance of a kick and chase and much to the chagrin of the home support the referee adjudged that McCulloch touched down underneath the despairing dive of the defence.
Wyllie added the extra points.
With a five point lead Carrick all but finished the game from the kick off when Newton Stewart were penalised.
The kick found touch at the corner and a top secret call was issued, so secret that it has only worked once before giving a score in the corner. Wyllie atoned for his front of post penalty miss of the first half by converting from the touch line.
Although the home side battled to the end Carrick finished comfortable winners by 32 – 20.
With only one team being promoted Carrick’s second place finish means that they will have another season in West 1 but the club has come a long way in the last three seasons.
Three seasons ago it was promotion to West 2 by default, a season finding their feet plus a fledging second fifteen, last season saw promotion to West 1 and the second fifteen promoted to Reserve league West 2.
The season just finished saw the first team narrowly missing promotion and the second team winning all their league games with bonus points and being promoted to reserve West 1.