No-one could have predicted, after Irvine fell 0-12 behind in the first five minutes, that they would run up a record score against old foes Morgan Academy FP, winning by 61 points to 20.
Facing an unusual wind, off the town than from the harbour, Irvine started as if they still had a hangover from the beating by Hillhead-Jordanhill, and in three minutes, Kiddie had sliced through the centre of the Irvine defence to score Morgan’s first try. He duly converted his own score and only two minutes later, had another shot at the posts after Hopkins had broken down the wing to record the visitors’ second try. This went unconverted, but the home support feared the worst.
However, in eleven minutes, Matt Kenny raised Irvine’s hopes with one of the best solo tries ever seen at Marress. Taking the ball deep inside his own 22, he wove through the whole Morgan team, breaking tackles and leaving defenders gasping in his wake as he ran the length of the park to record a superb individual score. This went unconverted and the Morgan team rallied to control both territory and possession for the next ten minutes. The spell was broken when Irvine gained a penalty to relieve the pressure. Winning the ensuing line-out, the pack rucked the ball into the open and the ball was passed along the backs for veteran try-scorer James Adams to break two tackles on his way to Irvine’s second score.
This allowed the home pack to regain the upper hand, and it was no surprise when Ruchin Filander broke off a scrum on the Irvine 10 metre line in 38 minutes. After making his usual foray into the opposing defence, he passed to Robbie Stewart who belied his years by racing down the wing to stretch out from a despairing tackle to score a fine try. Although he failed to convert this try, Robbie was to turn in a man-of the match performance with one try, five conversions and two penalties, while marshalling the backs in what was to become Irvine’s offensive performance of the season. Kiddie goaled a penalty just on half-time to bring Morgan back into the game, with a half-time score of Irvine 15 Morgan 15.
What coach McHarg said to the team at half-time remains in the huddle, but no-one was prepared for Irvine’s second-half onslaught. Two minutes into the half, Robbie Stewart gave Irvine the lead again with a fine penalty, but the try-fest started only four minutes later. Once again, Filander broke clear and once again Stewart was following up. This time he was caught just short of the line, but Alastair Spice took the popped-up ball to go over for a try near the posts. Stewart converted. In the next ten minutes, Stewart had one penalty come back off the crossbar, and Irvine lost iconic forward Morne Strydom for ten minutes for killing the ball after the ref had inexpicably given a penalty for offside in open play.
Undaunted, the fourteen Irvine men marched down the field and, when they gained a penalty near the Morgan line, Paul Johnston reacted quickly, tapping the ball and laying it off to Tony Wright who crashed over for Irvine’s fifth try, which went unconverted.
Soon after, on 60 minutes, Irvine broke from a good line-out take and James Adams skinned his opposing winger on the outside before drawing the defence and laying the ball off to giant second row/prop, Jeremy Bekhuis to run the try in. Steward once again added the two points. In 64 minutes, Stewart yet again converted a penalty but it was all of five more minutes before Irvine managed another try. A break by the two Irvine centres, Alastair Spice and Kevin Lang, destroyed the Morgan defence, allowing the forwards to take the ball on. From the back of the ensuing ruck, Jeremy Bekhuis once again drove the ball over for a try, converted yet again by Stewart. By this time, Irvine were rampant and when Robbie Stewart broke out of defence five minutes from time, he gave the ball to Lance Elrick who committed the Morgan defence before handing the ball off to Alastair Spice to run his second try under the posts. Yet again Stewart converted.
At this point the brave Morgan team, who never let their heads go down, managed a consolation try in the corner by winger Wares, but Irvine had the last word. On the point of full-time, Lance Elrick broke away from forty metres to run the ball under the posts for Irvine’s ninth try, again converted by Robbie Stewart. The 61 – 20 victory puts Irvine in great heart for the difficult and vital trip to relegation threatened Ellon next week. The Seconds have a visit from Annan, after their match against Stewartry was cancelled through lack of a referee. The Under-18s also recorded a fine win against visitors Waysiders-Drumpellier, who were enhanced by some of Irvine’s second team players.