The boys from Callander were the visitors at Maybole last Saturday - McLaren and Carrick Rugby Clubs were promoted together two seasons ago but the visitors did not show their full potential last season.
This year they have had a good run and before Saturday’s game they were fourth placed in the league and a win would have taken them to second place.
The early morning frost and mist lifted and the Academy pitch was in perfect condition as was the weather.
The game started at a cracking pace with an early exchange of penalties before the visitors fly half carved his way through poor Carrick defence, chipped the ball to his right winger who scored a converted try.
Six minutes gone and 10-3 down was not the scoreline that the Rick support wanted especially since there was a recast second row with veteran Willie Wyllie and new signing Jamie Doolan having their first outing of the season.
Stung into action by this reverse Carrick reduced the leeway to one point with two Kyle Johnson penalties as the home pack began to dominate proceedings and by the 19th minute their pressure told with a series of scrummages on the McLaren five metre line giving Pollock the chance to pick up and score as the visitor’s scrum disintegrated.
Johnson added the extra points to give Carrick a six point lead.
Although the Carrick eight had a stranglehold on the game it was a further 15 minutes before they troubled the scorer.
A quick ball off the top from a lineout allowed Thomson to make the initial break through the midfield defence, the follow up cleared the ball and with forwards and backs combining to carry the attack to the line a delicate slipped pass from Doolan to Wyllie freed the winger to score in the left corner.
The Rick ramped up the pace and scored again from the kick off. Again it was from lineout ball but on this occasion with Raby cleverly opting for a catch and drive, the visitors pack was driven back from their ten metre line to their twenty two.
As the McLaren defence retreated the ball was released to right winger McCulloch who skipped past his opposite number to score. Johnson converted the try from the touchline to bring the score to 28-10.
They half finished with a rare foray to the Carrick twenty two where the home forwards were penalised for killing the ball. The penalty conversion was the last act of the half.
The second half was a bit of a letdown for the home support. The game was still being played in the McLaren half of the field but the only score of the half for Carrick was a fiftieth minute penalty. There was much effort and perspiration but little inspiration as the visitors defence, although battered, held firm.
With 15 minutes left another incisive break from the McLaren fly half opened up the home defence and his run from deep within his own half produced a converted try to the delight of the visiting support.
Carrick continued their search for the bonus point try and it was almost their undoing as an interception almost produced a try for the visitors but Dewar’s 60m chase saved the day.
Coaches Brown, McHarg and Adams were delighted with the first half performance and were especially pleased with improvement in the set piece where the Carrick eight dominated.
Especially pleasing was the input from both second rows, Wyllie and Doolan who added steel and experience to the front five which gave the side a platform to attack.
However with three tries on the board at HT there was frustration that the bonus point was not secured and it just adds that little more importance to next week’s visit to local rivals Stewartry who will be keen to avenge their early season defeat in Maybole.
The second XV are also back in action this Saturday when they host Marr 3rd XV at the Academy field. Kick off is 2pm for both games.