2XV v Irvine There is only one word to describe an off-the-ball kick to the head on a player who is on the ground - cowardice. There are two possible responses: pitched battle or a rugby lesson of skill, power and patience.
The Garnock second team played Irvine in a tense and tetchy affair that had all to play for, up until mid way through the second half, at a point when events took a turn for the worse, when proceedings became more like a scene from Bad Boys (with Will Smith's one liners coming from the significant Garnock support on the touchline). What had led up to that turning point and which way would it turn?
The game opened with solid Irvine pressure, rebutted by a skilful Garnock team, powerful in the forwards and quick in the backs. A try through the hands for Ryan Jones demonstrated what could be gained. A penalty kicked by the opposition demonstrated what could be lost (5 points to 3) and the game went backwards and forwards. A second Garnock try before half time was just reward for better play, but Irvine were not giving up.
So half time arrived. On the positive side, Garnock were half way towards a bonus point win. On the negative, the game could still be lost.
A touchdown for the home team and the game was thrown open. Perhaps the pressure was too much, and tempers flared. Then the embarrassing situation mentioned above. Embarrassing for the game itself. No matter how low players go, there is a limit below which sportsmen do not stoop. And Garnock responded in just the right way. Declan Goldie showed he was worthy of the Captain's stripes and turned his frustration into powerful runs, skilfully beating the rushing defence. This set up Ewan Perry, maturing from young hot head to hot rod speedster, who started and finished the move of the game to put Garnock onto safer ground.
Tony Woods upped the ante with another Garnock try. If British army generals learn their trade on the playing fields of Eton, then Tony must have learned his jinky jiggery playing "touch the dugs' bum" on the housing estates of Ayrshire. Danny Irvine romped through the lines to pick off another. And by the time Mark Thompson blasted through the best defensive wall the opposition could muster to score the fifth Garnock try, the game was over. 34- 8.
So the response to that kick in the face? Sublime rugby skill, fearsome tackling, wonderful handling, and most importantly, team work. This was epitomised by Davy Ramsey-Miller (DMR - the Roman numerals that add up to 128, his tackle count for the day); and David "Francois" McNair: he has taken about three years to be an overnight sensation, and is now playing the rugby of his life; and Sean Spalding, the shortest man on the pitch, but who can stand tallest for how he dealt with adversity.
Who else stood tall? Alan Brocket and replacement Rob Johnston drove the scrum forward, as if the opposition were wearing roller skates. Graeme Lowe, the most mobile he has ever been. Davy Hutton, rolling back the years, at one point had to ask the touchline what time it was. Is it 1985, he asked? He was playing like he was 25 years younger.
In the backs, Robbie Nisbet finished the game off with a thumping tackle, powering an opposition player through the air and into touch, having given a lesson in game management. Before that, Cammy Perry had a quiet game (compared to recent weeks when his tries were weighed not counted), Chris Spears and Ally Anderson never put a foot wrong.
Cheesy was the on the touchline and Jules Taylor revelled in Alan Brocket's accolade that he must be the club's best tackler (perhaps with an ounce of irony?). The support was outstanding and Trish taped, sponged and patched up the whole gang. Coach Dave Perry was pleased that his tactics were put into action. What a day. It epitomised what it means to play for Garnock: club first, highest quality rugby, never back down.