Irvine 26-5 Helensburgh
Irvine can start looking up the table again after winning the 50th anniversary match under the new floodlights at Marress.
Victory moves the home side to within two points of the sixth-placed visitors, and Kilmarnock's shock defeat at Allan Glen's means they are also now only four points adrift of the Bellsland side in fifth. Unfortunately Irvine's next league game is not until December 1st when third-placed East Kilbride are due to visit Marress.
The match was preceded by a gala lunch attended by an array of past presidents and captains of the club, as well as several of the founding members. The guests were entertained by Scottish Rugby Union president Alan Lawson, past captain and Scottish international Alastair McHarg, past president and International Rugby Board member Bill Nolan and regular referee Jake Wilson who all gave excellent speeches.
The occasion was also tinged with sadness as thoughts turned to those members who had passed away without being able to see the day - in particular evergreen prop Arthur Mawhinney who died almost a year ago, and who by still playing in the first XV at the age of 49, months before his death, served as an example to all players at the club - an example the players were encouraged to draw inspiration from during the game.
Irvine then, understandably keen to crown the occasion with a home win, came flying out of the traps and the game was barely two minutes old when Ruchin Filander crossed on the right to notch the opening try, which went unconverted.
Defences were on top for a while after this and there was no addition to the score until the 24th minute, when Irvine forced a penalty at a scrum deep in the Helensburgh half, which Ross Bryan goaled from a central position to make it 8-0.
The home side were slowly but surely taking control, and they extended their lead on the stroke of half time when a Helensburgh defender carried Craig Hobson's kick ahead into the in-goal. The Irvine forwards again forced a penalty at the resulting scrum, and Ross Bryan was once again on target to put the home side up 11-0 at the break.
Minutes into the second half the home side were further in front. After John Carson had nearly broken clear after running a Helensburgh kick back from the Irvine half, on the subsequent phase Kevin Lang embarked on an enterprising run through the visiting defence which culminated in him dotting down to the right of the posts to give Ross Bryan a textbook conversion.
Irvine were dominating both possession and territory by now, and it was no surprise when they extended their lead still further on 52 minutes with another Ross Bryan penalty, shortly after a nice combination between captain Allan Spiers and John Carson resulted in the former being forced into touch.
The same combination resulted in the home side's third try of the afternoon minutes later when they played in Ruchin Filander for his second of the afternoon down the left. Ross Bryan was unable to add the conversion from an admittedly difficult angle, but the home side still had a decisive 26-0 lead.
The home side needed one more try to clinch the bonus point, but in the only disappointment of the afternoon the all-important fourth try failed to materialise, and aided by a slew of penalties, as well as a late yellow card for Tony Wright - playing his last match before retiring - the visitors worked their way into the game and with a minute to go, forced their way over in the corner for a consolation try.
There was still time after this for a brief attacking flurry by the home side, but there was no further scoring.
Marress' home game with Cambuslang was called off by the visitors so a friendly against Carrick was played instead, which the home side won 29-12, through a brace of tries by Neil McMillan and singles from Martin Sneddon, Steven Paton and Alan Thomson, who took man of the match. Stuart Tracey added two conversions. They entertain GHA next week in a match rearranged from September.
IRVINE -- C G Hobson; C S Hobson, C Lang, A Spiers (capt), J Carson; R Bryan,
R McVey; B Auld, M Kirk, S Docherty, R O'Neill, I Spiers, A Lang, R Filander,
Subs: G Gibson, A Nugent, C Williams, T Wright.
HELENSBURGH -- J Drake; A Irvine, S McNee (capt), S Walker, C Bowman;
O Curtis, T Smith; D Bowles, J Feltham, M Gard, K Greggan, D Calderwood, M Sloan, A Inglis, P Rodgers.
Subs: C Slader, L Berry, K Berry, A Nother.
REFEREE -- Euan McQuarrie
MAN OF THE MATCH -- Kevin Lang (Irvine)