For the few who read these reports, my apologies for no report of the away game against Strathaven on the 5th of January. A surfeit of Christmas cheer and New Year hangovers produced a disappointing performance from the boys from Maybole. Admittedly, illness had decimated the Carrick back line and with the skiing slopes of the Alps being preferred to the sloping surface at Strathaven it was a makeshift back division that side stepped up the slope to the field.
The visitors began the game well and within ten minutes took the lead when Wyllie followed up a Clark chip ahead and scored in the right corner.
Within five minutes the home side had equalised when their powerful forwards, who had been dominating the set scrums, mauled their way over the Carrick line.
There was no further scoring before half time but the Rick had a great chance just before the half ended to score but an undisciplined off the ball incident produced a yellow card and a relieving penalty for the home side.
Carrick’s discipline did not improve in the second half and two penalties for ruck offences compounded with dissent gave Strathaven a six point lead.
With fifteen minutes to go the referee harshly red carded a home side player and this seemed to be a wakeup call for Carrick. The forwards who had been sluggish all afternoon began to play with a bit more zest. Although the pack were still finding set piece ball difficult to deliver it began to produce good breakdown ball and from a forward drive it was no surprise that Carrick’s man of the match, Grant Ward, dived over to score. Connor Wyllie added the conversion to give the visitors a surprise two point lead.
Strathaven restarted with three minutes left on the clock. Carrick gathered and failed to clear their lines far enough and at the next breakdown Carrick’s indiscipline surfaced again when they were penalised for side entry at a maul.
A bad day at the office?... yes! outscrummaged?...yes! poor lineout performance?...yes! deserved to win?..no! but with a few minutes left in the game and a two point lead the opposition must never be given the chance to retrieve that position.
But to last Saturday when both the first and seconds were in action; the seconds at Waysiders and the firsts at home to Strathendrick.
It has been a number of seasons since the club has produced two fifteens on a Saturday but as yet this season the two fifteens have not produced two winning sides on the same day. This was achieved last Saturday with the seconds beating Waysiders 24 to 10 and the firsts gaining a bonus point win against Strathendrick. The star of the second’s performance was David Logan who contributed 12 points from the boot
However the star of Rabbie Burns country is Carrick Rugby with 60 boys in the morning and 40 adults in the afternoon playing rugby. Murrayfield Mandarins take note!!
But to our tale..
Endrick travelled to Maybole for the return fixture with a much stronger side with ex pro Rory Kerr featuring at full back.
The Rick had all the early pressure and opened the scoring on the10 minute mark when Wyllie converted a penalty.
The home side continued to control the game with excellent scrummage and lineout ascendancy but managed to scorn a number of scoring chances. Twenty minutes passed before Carrick troubled the scoreboard. Good work by the forwards going right tied in the fringe defence and when the attack was switched left, Wyllie squeezed in at the corner.
Eight points ahead at half time seemed a scant reward for the amount of ball and field position that Carrick had possessed.
Within five minutes of the second half the strong Carrick scrummage produced another penalty which Wyllie converted. The visitors reduced the deficit immediately when Carrick was penalised for killing the ball at a ruck.
The Rick redoubled their efforts and assailed the visitor’s line and five minutes later added a second try when Clark from the opposite wing appeared on the right wing, as the extra man, and scored.
The next seven minutes were to be the crucial minutes of the game. Firstly a long range penalty from the Strathendrick kicker brought the score to 16 to 6. Secondly when Wyllie was adjudge to have interfered with the kicker of a chip ahead. The penalty was awarded where the ball landed which was twenty metres out in front of the posts. The kick was taken and the referee signalled the conversion but neither touch judge raised his flag so the decision was changed to a drop out twenty two. Thirdly as Strathendrick continued to press in the Rick twenty two Ewan Alexander intercepted a pass and raced the full length of the field to score under the posts. Wyllie converted to give a score of 23 to 6 which might have been 16 to 9 to a resurgent Endrick side.
Wyllie rounded off a good day’s work to earn the bonus point try and Ali Dale finished the scoring from a lineout close to the Strathendrick line.
This was a much better performance from Carrick especially from the forwards who dominated proceedings.