Saturday’s game against Stewartry was the start of the second half of the season. At Castle Douglas an inexperienced Carrick side had been taught a few lessons and effectively outmuscled by the stronger and more experienced home side losing by four tries to nil. Stewartry came to Maybole as one of the top three in the league with an outside chance of promotion. The sub plot to the visit was the close connection between player/coach Muir for the visitors and sometime player/coach Brown for the Rick.
Both had been team mates in a successful Irvine side of a few years ago.
In the last two home games Brown had not been happy with the pack’s breakdown play and attention in training had been focused in this area.
The game started with Carrick playing down the slope but into a slight breeze and immediately the Rick had a chance to open the scoring but Connor Wyllie pulled his penalty attempt wide.
Two minutes later the visitors had a similar chance which was taken and by the ten minute mark the BLACKS, as the visitors liked to be cALLed, were six points ahead when the home side committed another breakdown offence.
The underfoot conditions were not suitable for an expansive open game and a dour forward battle was the order of the day which slowly but surely the home side was shading. It was no surprise then when from a line out catch and drive, which splintered infield with Pollock emerging from the maul to be driven over by a rampant Rick pack. Uncharacteristically Wyllie missed the conversion.
In second quarter of the match, Carrick managed to control the game for the most part but the visitors’ full back was always dangerous in the counterattack.
The only scoring in the second quarter was two late penalties from Wyllie to give the half time score of 11 to 6.
Now playing up the hill but with a stiffening breeze behind them Euan McGregor put the ball behind the Black’s defence and within four minutes Wyllie had converted another penalty for an offside offence at a ruck.
With an eight point cushion McGregor played the territory game and kept Stewartry pinned within their half.
Going into the last quarter with the game seemingly under control a Russ McCulloch chip to the corner went over the dead ball line which resulted in a scrum on the Stewartry 10 metre line. From the scrum the No8 picked up and fed the scrum half going blind and the move was finished with the winger scoring in the corner.
Thereafter the visitors increased their tempo of play and the game was now in the balance but Wyllie eased the tension a little with a penalty conversion but the Rick’s kicking game seemed to have deserted them and the last few minutes of the game it was backs to the wall defence.
It was a hoarse and relieved Brown who congratulated his troops especially his forwards who had recovered their breakdown skills.