Carrick dig deep for league win

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Carrick travelled to Dunblane on Saturday to take on the difficult challenge of McLaren RFC.

With the Appeals Panel of the SRU overturning the points deduction imposed on Oban for a non-fulfilment of a fixture, Carrick now find themselves out of the promotion spot and two points behind Oban.

The task for Carrick is quite simple, win all their remaining six games and hope that Oban slip up somewhere in their remaining six.

The home side started strongly and the Carrick defence was hard pressed to keep their line intact.

Eventually, the referee gave the first of his many penalties of the afternoon but the McLaren kicker missed the easiest of kicks.

Kyle Johnson’s drop out from the twenty-two was long, the McLaren full back knocked on, the kick chase was good and a simple recycle and pass to winger Ross McCulloch sent the speedy winger dashing the 50 metres to score under the posts.

Johnson added the extra points to give the visitors a somewhat undeserved seven point lead.

McLaren redoubled their efforts and again camped in the Carrick twenty two and after 15 minutes their pressure was rewarded with a score. Again the kicker failed with an easy conversation.

This setback seemed to galvanise the visitors and their game became more purposeful with less kicking and a greater attempt to keep possession when playing against the stiff breeze.

However many of their attacks were halted by their inability to protect the ball carrier who was then penalised for not releasing the ball when tackled. This led to a yellow card for Lewis Clark.

Carrick survived the shortage for the ten minutes and held on to their slight advantage until half-time.

Turning round with the wind advantage the visitors were soon on the attack with Johnson using the wind to put the ball in behind the home defence and in the 47th minute a McLaren lineout, in their own twenty two, went wrong.

Smith tidied up their knock on and broke through some poor tackling and when he was eventually stopped on the line the Carrick pack drove him over for a converted try.

Alastair Dale gathered the kick off and galloped off on one of his trademark runs leaving debris in his wake, Smith carried on the attack and when the ball was dropped right winger McCulloch picked up and in an arcing run linked up with his opposite wing man Clark who skipped in from 20 metres. Johnson again converted to bring the score to 21-5.

At Maybole, earlier in the season, Carrick had a full second half to gain the bonus point try and failed. It looked as if that might happen again but after the home side’s defence was stretched on the right the attack was switched left and Johnson squeezed through the narrowest of gaps to score in the corner. Johnson duly produced the kick of the match.

Job completed with 15 minutes to spare.

Coach Brown who had been press-ganged into playing, as some players had travelled to a “Stag Night”, did a good impression of the cotter in Burns’ Cotter’s Saturday Night as he wended his way wearily off the pitch.

With five minutes left Clark copied Johnson’s score but he had no need to squeeze as he only had to beat a large and lonely second rower who was defending. Johnson made it a full house of conversions to give a final score of 35-5.

It is as you were at the table top as both Garnock and Oban had five point wins. This Saturday coming Strathaven are the visitors with a 3pm kick off.