Irvine 0-56 East Kilbride
Irvine simply had no answer to a fine display of attacking rugby by East Kilbride at Marress.
Rustiness may have played a part in the home side's below-par performance with last week's match at Newton Stewart called off due to a waterlogged pitch at Bladnoch Park, but such was the attacking adventure and defensive confidence of the visitors it is debatable whether the extra game time would have made a difference to the outcome.
Irvine have a chance to demonstrate this was just a "blip" however, with another side challenging at the top of the league, GHK, the next visitors to Marress.
East Kilbride began the match strongly, forcing numerous good attacking positions before full back Scott Shankie edged them in front with a penalty after 7 minutes.
Shankie repeated the dose seven minutes later when the home side were ruled guilty of obstruction as they tried to build out of defence, before the full back extended the visitors' lead still further with the game's opening try, finishing off a nice interchange of passes in the left corner before converting his own score to put his side 13-0 up after 17 minutes.
Six minutes later they brought up the twenty. Ironically it came from an Irvine penalty after Shankie had allowed himself to become isolated on another dangerous run into the Irvine half, the visitors turning the ball over and working it to centre Ian Brown, who duly raced clear to score the first of a hat trick in the corner. Shankie atoned for his earlier error by adding the conversion.
Irvine had their first attack worthy of the name shortly before the half hour when a good run by Kris Hobson into the East Kilbride half set up a promising handling move but the pressure ended when Ruchin Filander knocked on trying to gather the ball at pace.
The visitors took full advantage of the let-off shortly afterwards, with Shankie adding another penalty following the sin-binning of flanker Craig Maxwell for killing the ball. This matched East Kilbride's points total in the previous meeting of the two sides at Torrance House with only 32 minutes played.
There was no further scoring before half time, but Irvine shot themselves in the foot within minutes of the restart.
Ruchin Filander fielded a kick to the corner and passed to Craig Hobson, who appeared to become caught in two minds whether to clear the ball or run it and ultimately succeeded only in gifting the visitors a soft try through lock forward Craig Ferguson Junior, which Shankie again converted to make it 30-0.
Irvine pinned the visitors back in their 22 from the restart but again the East Kilbride forwards managed to turn the ball over, and this time winger Craig Ferguson Senior was the beneficiary, running down the left to notch the bonus point try. Shankie's conversion took the score to 37-0 with still over half an hour to go.
The more Irvine chased the game the more it seemed to run away from them, and by the hour mark the visitors were still further in front through Brown's second try of the afternoon, which again came from turnover ball from a penalty to the home side.
Another routine conversion by Shankie made it 44-0 and nine minutes later the East Kilbride forwards got in on the act, mauling number 8 Calum Aitken over in the corner for the only unconverted try of the afternoon, before the Lanarkshire side were finally forced to show up in defence in the closing minutes.
The East Kilbride captain could be heard for much of the second half imploring his team-mates to keep Irvine to nil, and their determination to do so was epitomised with three minutes to go when prop Ben Auld looked set to crown Irvine's best spell of pressure in the match with a try in the corner, only to be well marshalled into touch before he was able to get the ball down.
There was still a chance for Irvine to salvage something from the wreckage of their afternoon when they stole the resulting lineout, but again they were unable to capitalise on the possession and eventually Brown intercepted a Hail Mary kick play and raced the length of the field to complete his hat trick under the posts. Shankie's conversion rounded off the scoring at 56-0.
It was also a difficult day at the office for Marress, who lost ground in the Reserve West 2 promotion race with a 34-8 defeat at home to Garnock, lock forward Sandy Thomson's first competitive try for the club proving the only highlight. Stuart Tracey also notched a penalty for the home side, who could have moved into second place with victory but now sit six points behind the Lochshore side with a game in hand. Next up they are due to visit Stewartry.
IRVINE -- K Hobson; N McMillan, C Lang, R Filander, C Hobson; R Bryan,
R McVey; D Kirkwood, M Kirk, E Callaghan, A Thomson, R O'Neill, A Lang,
C Maxwell, I Spiers. Reps: B Auld, D Moffat, J Marshall, J Doolan.
EAST KILBRIDE -- S Shankie; A MacDonald, I Brown, G Seymour,
C Ferguson Snr; R Greenfield, F Little; S Aitken, J Currie,
C McLellan, A Dalgleish, C Ferguson Jnr, C O'Neill, G Jones,
C Aitken. Reps: C Hastie, R Anderson, S Kampman, R Stewart.
REFEREE -- Eddie Rea