Carrick rugby lost out in a titanic game against title tivals Oban 5-3 on Saturday at Maybole.
It was always likely to be a forward’s battle and Saturday’s wet underfoot condition ensured that it was. It was conditions that more suited Oban’s powerful and effective pack.
Carrick won the toss and chose to play down the slope but into the breeze. It was an enthralling first period with the home forwards matching the bigger visiting eight.
Oban had an early penalty chance but failed to convert but with clever use of the wind more of the first half was played in the home side’s territory but the Green Machine playing in an old Carrick Academy strip never really threatened the Carrick line.
In the thirtieth minute a speculative kick into the home twenty was fielded by Doolan. His sliced clearance was fielded by the Oban ten who slotted the ball back into the twenty two. Doolan’s follow up tackle was late and was rewarded with a yellow card for his stupidity.
Oban chose to kick for the corner but the Carrick defence was solid although it did survive a held up in goal when an Oban forward was over but could not ground the ball.
The last ten minutes of the half was the home team’s most productive. A back row break set scrum half, Ward, free but he chose to go it alone when a draw and pass would have given the flying winger McCulloch the chance of a score.
He somewhat redeemed himself when his show and go opened up the Oban defence but he was halted close to the line where the visitors were penalised for killing the ball. Johnson opened the scoring with the simplest of penalty conversions which was the last act of the half.
Now with a stiffening breeze behind them the Rick support was confident that more of the game would be played in the opponents half.
It was not to be however. Carrick did not use the conditions to their best advantage and were pinned into their own half with an occasional break out; McCulloch losing a foot chase when the ball beat him to the dead ball line.
With fifteen minutes left and Oban continue to press but without threatening Carrick had two difficult penalty chances. Both were narrowly missed when territory might have been the better option.
As the home pack tired the visitors turned the screw and their penalties found territory and after a series of lineouts, mauls and rucks an Oban forward crashed over for a winning score.
This was a disappointing 5 3 loss for Carrick but the stronger team on the day took the spoils. Oban are a difficult side to beat and it as advantage to them in the race for second promotion spot.