Carrick Rugby continued their push for promotion with a dramatic 35-30 win over Cambuslang on Saturday.
Russ McCulloch was the hero for the Maybole men with a late try which also secured a vital bonus point.
Carrick and their big travelling support made their way up to Cambuslang knowing that this was likely to be a challenging game and so it proved to be with the result not decided until the final play of the match.
Stephen Logan was back in action after a 4 month layoff and Chris Reid was welcomed back into the squad of 22 after work commitments in Norway had kept him out for the season.
Carrick fielded the opening kick and after a couple of rucks the box kick up field went straight into touch, from the line out the Cambuslang pack punched holes in the Carrick midfield and was awarded a penalty for offside which their fly half slotted comfortably,
Cambuslang was winning the battle up front and from a catch and drive line out they drove over to take an 8-0 lead, the conversion was missed.
Carrick eventually gained some possession and were rewarded with a penalty for the home side not rolling away after a tackle. Kyle Johnston sent the ball between the posts from 35 metres. Cambuslang responded immediately with their fly half slicing through the Carrick defence to touch down near the touch line.. The conversion was missed leaving the home side 13-3 with 25 minutes gone, 13-3.
At this stage Carrick lost the plot by giving away silly penalties which resulted in a yellow card for Jamie Doolan. Coach Brown rang the changes bringing on himself and veteran Willie Wyllie. This settled the team and the visitors dominated the game for the rest of the half.
In this period Garey Thomson scored a converted after great work from Stephen Logan and Craig Davidson. The visitors continued to claw their way back into the game when Johnson converted a penalty to level the score at 13 all.
With 4 minutes of the half to go Carrick took the lead when Greg Montgomery scored from a five metre scrummage after a Calum Smith thrust. Johnson converted to give Carrick a 20-13 lead at half time..
The first 30 minutes of the second half was dominated by Cambuslang in which they scored two converted tries and a penalty to Carrick’s one penalty. 30-23 down Carrick had 10 minutes to rescue their season. Veterans Dale and Brown gave one last rallying call and whatever was said worked as the youngsters then produced some fantastic rugby by attacking the wide channels and with 7 minutes left Stephen ‘Dell’ Logan dived in the corner after a break by Ewan Alexander. Johnson again converted to level the score at 30-30.
Carrick now had their tails up but blew two scoring chances. With the referee Rae calling final play the Carrick forwards caught and drove from a lineout on the Cambuslang 10 metre line. When the drive was halted, the backs continued the attack with Ewan Alexander making the initial break who offloaded to Brown. The final ruck produced quick ball which allowed Montgomery to feed Russ McCulloch who squeezed in at the corner to give Carrick the win but also the important bonus point. None of the Carrick support really cared that the conversion was missed as they were in heaven whilst the Cambuslang support must have wondered how they had lost the game.
With Oban gaining an impressive victory at Stewartry and Garnock’s game being cancelled Carrick still remain two points behind Oban. If Carrick was to win their last three games their promotion hopes will be settled by the result of the Oban Garnock game in two weeks. Carrick travel to Loch Lomond next Saturday in what is again a must win match.