Carrick 17, Stewartry 11
Carrick kicked off and were awarded their first penalty in the first minute at the first breakdown.
Stewartry players had been warned before the game about the referee’s dislike of dissent and this was to prove to be unheeded advice. The penalty was missed but it was the first of many to Carrick in a game that victory to the Stewartry would have seen them go clear leaders at the top of the league.
Carrick were on an unbeaten run of four games themselves and having played the previous two weeks were match fit while Stewartry were a bit rusty having not played for three weeks.
John Muir relieved the early Carrick pressure with a jinky run out of his 22 into the Carrick half before Cammy Fenwick was brought to ground. A lineout won by Stewartry gave their backs a chance at the Carrick line but it ended in a penalty award that Cammy Fenwick converted.
Carrick put Stewartry under pressure after stealing a Blacks’ lineout before Muir broke away again to go over halfway. Once again the backs’ play was rewarded with a penalty kick converted by Fenwick for a 6-0 lead.
The Stewartry back row of Ian Fenwick, McCulloch and Porteous were putting in numerous tackles to keep the Carrick attack at bay, with another jinky run from Muir as Stewartry’s only attacking move. In 15 minutes another penalty was kicked for the lineout by Carrick which they won and drove Stewartry back to their line. Keeping the pressure on, Carrick tried the same tactic again with their next penalty and this time drove over the line for a try in 19 minutes.
From the kick-off Stewartry had their best spell of the first half in Carrick territory with props Broll and Cannon driving forward. A penalty was kicked to the corner and the lineout won but, from the resulting scrum, Stewartry lost possession on the Carrick line. Mosey and Fenwick tried to open up the Carrick defence, winning a scrum, but Carrick won it against the head and McCulloch was penalised for continuous breaking of his binding and yellow carded, and Carrick went ahead from the penalty kick. Another penalty in the final minute of the first half eased Carrick further ahead at 6-11 at half time.
Stewartry started the second half well, winning a scrum against the head but then lost possession and were soon finding the wrath of the referee, again conceding a penalty for backchat. Carrick kicked it to go further ahead.
The prevailing wind had now got up and Carrick were kicking to advantage into the Stewartry 22, turning the visitors’ defence. In 58 minutes Carrick missed a penalty kick and from the let-off Stewartry’s Mosey and Fenwick broke away to put Jamie Farquhar in for a try in the corner.
With 20 minutes to play Stewartry upped their game with McMinn, Broll and captain Fenwick leading the way but the effort was being misdirected as too many penalties were continuing to be given away and Carrick just kicked them back up the field. Five minutes from the end Carrick scored a final penalty to win 17-11 and go clear in fifth place. Stewartry’s bonus point puts them equal with Annan at the top on 37 points.
Stewartry: J Muir, J Farquhar, C Fenwick, D Boyd, J Fingland, C Mosey, R Wallace, T Cannon, D Burton, S Broll, L Henderson, M Smith, S McCulloch, R Porteous, I Fenwick (captain), A Kerr, K McMinn, I McMorran, C Walker. All used.
This week Stewartry play Cambuslang at Greenlaw, kick-off 2pm, and Stewartry 2nd xv also play Cambuslang 2nd xv at 2pm. Stewartry wish all their supporters a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.