Following last Saturdays home loss to Cumnock in the Shield Garnock travelled to face the same opposition in their first West 1 fixture.
Garnock were well aware this would be an extremely difficult game against a good quality side and so it proved.
The game kicked off on Cumnock’s excellent 4G surface with Garnock having the slight wind at their back. The early passages of play took Garnock’s strong pack into the Cumnock 22 with the visitors pressing for the opening score. The ball was turned over and the home side attacked from their own line. Slick handling by their backs resulted in the left wing going the length of the field to score in the corner. The difficult conversion was good , 7-0 Cumnock
Garnock refocused their efforts despite the early setback and once again worked their way upfield. From a 5m lineout Garnock set up a driving maul forcing the home side over the line and captain Matt Shiells touched down. The conversion was successful, 7-7
The remainder of the half was extremely hard fought with defences on top. The battle between the packs was extremely physical with neither side willing to take a back ward step.
The only additions to the scoring were two penalties by the Cumnock 12 bringing the half time score to Cumnock 13 -7 Garnock
The second half started in similar fashion to the first with Garnock attacking the home 22. Following a number of unsuccessful lineout drives Garnock were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and elected to kick for goal. The successful kick brought the score to 13-10
This seemed to spur the home side into action and Cumnock began to apply more pressure on the visitors. Following a number of attacks within the 22 the Cumnock left wing picked the ball up at the back of a ruck 2m from the Garnock line and poor defence allowed him to burst through and over the line. Again the conversion was successful 20-10 .
The following 10 minutes were generally fought around midfield but a loose Garnock kick gave Cumnock’s dangerous backs the opportunity to attack and good handling saw the home side replacement right wing out pace the visitors defence down the left hand side , scoring in the corner. The tough conversion was again successful, 27-10
This setback re-energised the visitors with their pack dominant in the scrum and lineout. A series of phases took play upfield ultimately resulting in young winger Jaden Smith being set free to score in the corner. The successful conversion brought the score to 27-17
With time running out and Garnock chasing the losing bonus point the final few minutes were spent in the Cumnock 22. Similar to the previous week the final play of the game saw a try from distance. A strong tackle from a Cumnock forward dislodged the ball which was then hacked the length of the pitch and the Cumnock 13 won the sprint to touch down. The conversion brought the final score to 34-17 to the home side.
I think both sets of supporters would agree that the scoreline did not accurately reflect how evenly matched the teams were. On balance the home side deserved the win and Cumnock will be an extremely difficult place for all West 1 sides to come this season