Carrick RFC recovered from a half time deficit to secure a vital 24-12 win away to Strathendrick on Saturday.
The victory ensured that the Maybole men kept the pace on league leaders Garnock ahead of their clash with them on Saturday at Carrick Academy (kick off 2pm).
It was a return to action for Carrick after the winter break. They were the visitors at Fintry through which the river Endrick flows. Strathendrick rugby is not having their best season and is struggling at the foot of West 2. They were demolished at Maybole at the start of the season but obviously, after Saturday’s performance, have regrouped.
The home side started brightly and the early play was confined to the Carrick half. The visitors survived the early pressure and gradually began to gain the upper hand. Whether it was a lack of match practice or an overconfidence of an expected victory the Carrick play lacked shape and precision with the result that a number of chances were squandered.
Carrick’s profligate play eventually was their undoing as lost possession in the midfield was snapped up by the home side and the ball was quickly transferred to their powerful centre who sliced through the defence to score a converted try.
This seemed to arouse the Carrick side and the remaining four minutes of the half was spent camped on the Strathendrick line but desperate defence, not always legal, kept the visitors at bay.
Coach Brown had a few strong words and reorganised his resources at half time. The effect was immediate with an improved pace of their game and in three minutes Strathendrick was a man short for another breakdown offence. A quick tap penalty was taken, Raby drove into the heart of the defence, the ruck ball was quickly won and transferred to right winger McCulloch who scored an unconverted try in the corner.
The home side paid dearly for their indiscretions at the breakdown. In the ten minutes they were shorthanded they lost another two tries, one from left winger Dewar and the second from back row forward Pollock. Clark finally managed to convert the last of the two to give the visitors a comfortable 17 7 lead but still needing another try to achieve the bonus point.
With fifteen minutes to go Wyllie managed to relieve the depression of the Rick’s first half performance with a solo try. He chased his long kick into the space behind the full back and when the full back was slow to turn Wyllie hacked ahead and scored. Again Clark added the extra points.
With a seventeen point lead the Rick support relaxed and waited for the try fest but the Strathendrick side is now a more organised side and hit back immediately with their own hack ahead converted try.
A bonus point victory was obtained and kept Carrick chasing a promotion spot but a performance like this against lead leaders, Garnock, would surely lead to another bout of the blues.