Irvine 21-12 Newton Stewart
Irvine won a strange match at Marress to ease their relegation worries.
Rarely can a team have enjoyed as much possession and territory as Irvine did and not managed to score a try, while Newton Stewart managed a disgustingly clinical two from only three attacks - but it is ultimately all about the scoreboard, and the hosts found themselves on the right side of the final scoreline thanks to seven penalties from the boot of fly-half Ross Bryan.
The result means Irvine not only move above the visitors in the league, but also leapfrog Garnock, who were defeated 9-3 at bottom club Allan Glen's. Irvine next travel to second-placed GHK before Helensburgh visit Marress for the 50th anniversary match.
Irvine totally dominated the opening half-hour, and only a combination of well-drilled Newton Stewart defence and Irvine errors and indiscipline prevented the home side from long since being out of sight by the time they finally opened the scoring through Bryan's first penalty after 27 minutes.
The visitors responded with their first attack worthy of the name, only to be thwarted by the ruling of a forward pass, but the home side's chances received a further boost on 33 minutes when one of the visiting back row forwards was - possibly harshly - sin-binned for a high tackle on John Carson. Bryan kicked the penalty to put the hosts 6-0 ahead.
Newton Stewart defied their numerical disadvantage, however, to blow the game wide open with the first try of the afternoon minutes later. They forced a penalty on halfway from the kick-off reception, which they kicked to the corner, and from the resulting lineout the blindside eventually broke clear to touch down under the posts. The conversion gave the Bladnoch side a lead which they took into the interval.
The home side began the second half with renewed impetus, and forced a series of penalties, the last of which Bryan goaled to put the hosts back in front at 9-7 after 47 minutes.
Almost immediately Irvine were further in front when Kevin Lang's break deep in the Newton Stewart half drew another penalty - and yellow card - for a high tackle. Bryan again made no mistake, and shortly afterwards made it 15-7 after another dangerous move was halted illegally by the visitors.
Irvine now had a potentially decisive lead, but the game was back in the melting pot again minutes later when Kevin Lang became the third player of the afternoon to be sent to the sin bin for a high tackle.
The kicker missed the kick at goal, and the visitors were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage from open play before Lang's return. The home side punished this let-off shortly afterwards when Newton Stewart infringed in their own half, and Bryan scored his sixth goal of the afternoon to make it 18-7 with twelve minutes to go.
The visitors were still not finished however, and notched their second try of the afternoon eight minutes later when they forced an attacking lineout deep in the Irvine half, and their forwards mauled over the line to claim the touchdown, which went unconverted on this occasion.
Another converted try at this stage could have snatched victory for the visitors, but instead the home side won another penalty in front of the posts from the kick-off reception, and Bryan duly stepped up to complete the scoring.
Elsewhere, Marress suffered their first defeat of the season, losing 12-7 in their derby match at Garnock. Martin Sneddon claimed their only try of the afternoon, which was converted by Chris Saunderson in his last match before retirement.
IRVINE -- S Nunan; C Hobson, C Lang, A Spiers (capt), J Carson; R Bryan,
J Marshall; E Callaghan, M Kirk, S Docherty, R O'Neill, I Spiers, A Lang,
R Filander, K Lang.
Subs: B Auld, K Hobson, C Maxwell, A Nugent.
REFEREE -- Graham Filmer
MAN OF THE MATCH -- Jordan Marshall (Irvine)