Any Burns aficionados who had been suffering last Saturday from an excess of usquabae, haggis, neeps and tatties and had decided to clear their heads by following Tam o Shanter’s trail from the Market Bar in auld Ayr’s toon centre to Souter Johnnie’s cottage might have had a few surprises en route.
Before arriving at Alloways auld haunted kirk they could have popped into Rozelle to see Carrick 2nd XV play the boys from Lomond. The lads from Renton must have felt like Tam on that fateful night “when out the hellish legion sallied” as the Rick rattled up 101 points with only 3 in reply.
Moving on down the trail as they crossed over the Brig o Doon they would have seen the chappies from Wellington School taking on their counterparts from Maybole. On this occasion it was not Meg who was stumped but the Wellington boys as they relinquished a half time lead of 10 points to lose 17 to 10 to a spirited Carrick fight back.
In Maybole they could have stopped at the Speakers Club to rehydrate where they would have seen an unco sight, hookers and centres in a dance and in a winnock- bunker in the east, there sat Oor Wullie in his sponsor’s vest as his charges celebrated their victory over Cambuslang.
A Cambuslang team who had come prepared to play on the narrow pitch at Maybole with all their early attacks being punched through the midfield. This was a tactic they had used to great effect when they last visited on Cup duty at the beginning of the season; a game they were unlucky to lose.
A few games have passed since then and the Rick lads have developed a great deal since that last game. Carrick is, now, a more experienced team and contained all of the visitor’s early midfield threats. With the Rick scrummage overpowering the Cambuslang eight it was difficult to understand why it took to the twentieth minute before the scoreboard was troubled.
An attack from good scrummage ball, allowed the intruding full back, Wyllie, to set free right winger, Russ McCulloch, who skipped along the touchline and then crossed behind the posts to give Wyllie the easiest of conversions.
The dose was repeated three minutes later when Knight made the break to give McCulloch his second try in the right corner.
With a 12 point lead and Cambuslang on the ropes the visitors defence was stretched again but on this occasion on the left wing. Fortunately for the visitors the Rick winger and centre discovered that a hooker had joined the party. He wanted to waltz whilst they were in quick step mode and the chance was lost.
The visitors eased their way back into the game using shortened lineouts and flooding the midfield with extra forwards. Eventually this tactic was successful and the deficit was reduced by three when the Rick was caught offside at a breakdown.
With five minutes of the half left the home side completed the scoring. A Euan McGregor’s probing kick to the corner found space behind the Cambuslang back three. The chase was good and a Dewar tackle dislodged the ball for Grant Alexander to pick up and score. Wyllie added the extra points giving Carrick a half time lead of 16 points.
Scott Forrest, the Cambus coach and ex Scottish Sevens internationalist, must have given his charges an inspirational interval team talk. His charges began the second half showing their true mettle and pinned the Rick into their own twenty two for much of the first quarter of the half. Their close quarter attrition failed to dent the Rick defence and on the one occasion they did try to use the width of the field, the final pass went to ground with a three to one overlap beckoning.
This was a wakeup call for the home side, they cleared their line, the forwards began to dominate again and the last fifteen minutes of the game was played in the oppositions half. As the weather worsened the Rick’s early game skills and clinical finishing was washed away in the rain and the bonus point try was not achieved to leave the final score at 19 to 3 in Carrick’s favour
Coach Brown and at his elbow Cobbler John were a happy pair on Saturday night contemplating their visit to the Heckling Shed in Irvine next Saturday. 1.30pm KO