In West 1, it could all be settled by the Sunday when Carrick travelled to Allan Glens, but by the same token, a Glens win would take it to the final weekend of the season.
Third place Garnock had a derby game on Saturday, with a short trip to Irvine. A midweek bonus point win at Kilmarnock meant that Garnock needed a further bonus point win in this their final league match of the season if they had any chance of taking the title from Carrick grasp.
With a half-time score of 7 a piece, the bonus point was looking unlikely, and the second half sounds as though it was much like the first where, despite plenty of action, it was the defences who were on top. The final score of 19-12 gave Garnock the victory, but not the bonus point, which meant they were on the same points tally as Carrick, but Carrick with a vastly superior points difference. It was now a case of waiting 24 hours to see if the win was enough to secure second place ahead of Glens.
The Sunday clash between the two remaining title contenders took place in glorious sunshine, though there was a stiff breeze blowing down the pitch. Both Clubs have scored plenty of points, whilst being pretty mean in conceding them. A win was the minimum that Glens required, whilst a couple of points would probably be enough for Carrick to secure the title.
It was a storming start to the game for Carrick, who within 5 minutes had ripped apart the Glens defence on two occasions scoring twice, and by twenty minutes Carrick had claimed the four try bonus point. The pace and intensity that Carrick had brought to the Bearyards was pretty impressive. A dynamic set of forwards who created quick ball that was well utilised by a 9 10 combination who opened things up at every opportunity - I guess this is what Wayne Smith meant by Lightning Quick Ball all those years ago when Murrayfield toured him round the country.
It wasn’t all one way traffic though, and by half-time Glens had got the score back to 24-19 with three tries of their own, a couple coming from catch & drives from line-out ball.
Despite the temperature, the pace never slackened, with both sides going at it hammer and tong, but Glens could not contend with the pace Carrick were playing at. Carrick added another four tries second half, whilst Glens could only add one more of their own, giving a final score of 52-26. (refcam footage available)
The result means Carrick will be crowned West 1 Championship winners in their final game of the season at home against Annan this Saturday.
The result also mean that Garnock finish in second, one point ahead of Glens.
At the foot of the table, Irvine gained a lose bonus point in their game against Garnock, putting them 6 points ahead of the Oban who occupy the second relegation spot. Oban have three games remaining, but only one scheduled (Greenock away this Saturday), so it was surprising that they didn’t have a game at the weekend. Irvine face East Kilbride away this Saturday.
Obans other remaining games are Cambuslang at home and Annan away. We’d have thought that Oban would fancy the challenge of trying to claim seven points from these three games to avoid the drop to West 2, but it seems that’s not to be.
West 1 has been a highly competitive league this season with several Clubs involved in both the championship and relegation battles. Next season looks to be just as promising, with Dalziel coming down from National 3, and Strathendrick and Cumnock coming up from West 2. Both Strathendrick and Cumnock have young squads and like to play fast and open rugby, so they’ll offer a stiff challenge next season. Garnock, Glens, East Kilbride and Kilmarnock must all be in with a chance of promotion if they can keep their current squads together.
West 3 Update (to follow)