Garnock v Kilmarnock 23rd October 2021.
As reported by Tom Dickson
Garnock hosted local rivals in the form of Kilmarnock rugby in their seventh league match of the season. Along with their quest for league points, the two sides were playing for the Brian Gilbert Memorial Cup which is played for annually in memory of Brian who was a stalwart member of both clubs during his time playing and coaching rugby.
Kilmarnock kicked off towards the Kilbirnie end of Lochshore but the ball did not cross the 10-metre line resulting in a Garnock scrum on the half-way line. Garnock won the put in and pressed towards the visitors 22-metre line with a surge from Tony Woods. He was halted and Kilmarnock cleared into the Garnock half.
In the 7th minute Garnock were penalised for an early push in the scrum and from the first (of many) penalty Kilmarnock kicked wide of the posts.
For the next few minutes play was confined to the middle of the field of play. Both sides were trying to run the ball at every occasion and the handling of the Kilmarnock threequarters looked menacing. However, good cover defence from the home side kept the score board at zero.
With 16 minutes on the clock scrum half Josh Cooper saw a space and deftly chipped the ball through for Ross Murray to score at the posts. The conversion was duly completed and Kilmarnock led 0 – 7 after 18 minutes.
This reversal seemed to sharpen up the Garnock squad and it was they who started gaining the upper hand. The powerful Garnock forwards were winning the set scrums, their line-out jumpers were winning most of the line-outs but Kilmarnock were strong in defence.
Kilmarnock were reduced to 14 when Murray was yellow carded for a technical incident.
Garnock with their “tails up” began to take charge and it was no surprise when Lewis McGeachy burst over from 10 metres to score well out. The difficult kick was missed and the score moved to 5 – 7 just prior to half time.
The second half started with a bang. Garnock kicked deep into the Kilmarnock half and set up a 5-metre line out and tried to force their way over. The move was halted when the referee awarded the home side a penalty for a high tackle.
The kick was quickly taken and fed to the forwards who made several metres, released the ball to the ever-alert Jared Reekie who sped in for a converted try to make it 12 – 7 for Garnock.
The restart saw Kilmarnock coming the dominant force for the next quarter of an hour. Although play was confined the area between the two 25-metre areas both sides were trying to play a good open type of rugby but staunch defence by both kept the scoreboard stationary.
In the 56th minute of play, with Kilmarnock on the attack a loose kick was snapped up by Reekie on his own 10-metre line. Spying a gap he beat man after man, dodged his through gaps which did not appear to be there and sped past failing tacklers to score at the posts to make the conversion easy and the score moved to 19-7.
Garnock with a 12-point cushion now started to play as they had in previous games. Deft kicking by Per Jacobson at stand-off and Craig Williams at full-back kept Kilmarnock pinned in their own 22-metre area.
With 15 minutes remaining Garnock moved to within 10-metres of the try line via two penalties. The first from half way to touch on Kilmarnock’s 22-metre line. The second when Kilmarnock were penalised and warned about repeated offences. From the 10-metre line-out the forwards took over and drove the visitors close to their try line where Captain Matt Shiells picked up and powered his way over at the posts for the Bonus Try and to a 26 – 7 score.
Kilmarnock scored a try through Craig McWhirter. With Garnock camped near the touchline, the winger picked up a loose pass and sprinted the length of the Lochshore pitch to score near the corner flag. The difficult conversion was missed. The referee signalled the end of the game with the score 26 – 12 for Garnock and with the Brian Gilbert Memorial Cup remaining in the Garnock Valley for another year.
The Garnock squad was 1-19: – Fraser Miller, Richard O’Neill, Joe Chapman, Lewis McGeachy, Jonny Watson, Alan Miller, David Ramsey Miller, Matt Shiells, Keir Walker, Per Jacobson, Jared Reekie, Rory Dominy, Ross Brocket, Tony Woods, Craig Williams, Mathew Convery, Connor Wilson, Luke Wynn and Ewan Perry.