When the McHarg boys, Tom McKillop, Harry Fox and the rest set up Irvine Rugby Club in 1962, they famously chose maroon as a strip colour since they would never be in the position of playing teams like Gala. That particular prediction was blown out of the water last year, and on Saturday, the Legends, along with nearly sixty other old boys, came to Marress to see how the 2009 Irvine team was carrying on the traditions. The current players did not let them down.
Irvine faced high-flying Falkirk, who had beaten them in a towsy match earlier in the season, determined to reverse that result, and, within five minutes showed how they were going to do it. Facing a strengthening wind, the Irvine pack burst into action and, in three minutes, were already camped on the Falkirk line. Several forward drives later, and Kevin Lang, joining the ruck from the wing, dived over the top to claim his first try of the match. Sadly, Sean Christie could not make the conversion against the wind.
Falkirk, playing in an eye-catching pink strip, then hit back and, in the eighth minute, Irvine were penalized in front of their own goal for holding on to the ball on the ground. Adamson converted the resulting penalty. However, the Irvine pack, led by man-of-the-match Jeremy Beckhuis for the second week in a row, roared back into the game, turning over ball, driving the Falkirk pack off their own scrummage ball and generally controlling the match. It was no surprise then that, in the 19th minute, Irvine won a penalty when Falkirk killed the ball and Sean Christie duly converted. Irvine would have taken an even bigger lead into the half-time break had the referee not ruled that Morne Strydom had lost control of the ball when he drove over from one yard. However, the Irvine team gratefully accepted the hot orange dispensed at half-time with an 8 – 3 lead.
The second half started as the first. Winning turnover ball from a Falkirk line-out, Irvine swung the ball along the backs, and Kevin Lang, coming off his wing and intruding into the line, burst through the Falkirk defence to score under the posts. Christie added the conversion. Irvine continued to dominate and it was no surprise when Sean Christie slotted his second penalty six minutes later. However, Irvine were to be denied another try when three successive attempts were chalked off by the referee. First, from a five metre scrum, the Irvine pack drove the visitors over their own goal line. The ref ruled that it had been knocked on. From the resulting scrum, Irvine once again won the ball and Ruchin Filander took the ball in from the blind side. This time it was chalked off because the ref was on the wrong side of the scrum and did not see the score. Finally, from the next scrum, the pack once again drove the ball over the line, but the ref ruled that it had been held up.
At this point, Falkirk broke away and poor tackling allowed them to go the length of the ground for a try from centre Harris, converted by Adamson. This put an end to the scoring although Falkirk had one or two forays upfield snuffed out by fine defence.
Irvine have now won three in a row at Marress, and go to Hughenden next week to play Hillhead/Jordanhill. The Seconds, who lost at Dumfries, visit old rivals Kilmarnock, where they are joined by the Under-18s.