Feb 24 2012 By John Woods
A GHK side which has not lost a competitive match since March 19 last year racked up its 25th win in a row against Irvine on Saturday.
Yet in the opening stages it looked as if the Marress Men were going to rip that statistic to shreds as a prolonged spell of pressure led to Kris Hobson kicking a penalty into touch, Gary Kerr claimed the ball from the resulting line-out, and the pack mauled it over the line with David Kirkwood applying the finishing touch.
Kris Hobson potted the conversion for a 7-0 lead but it was not to last and, as GHK eased their way back into the game, the lead soon changed hands.
Home fly-half Danny Fleming reduced the arrears in 16 minutes with a penalty for offside, and although he failed with a second penalty shortly afterwards, GHK forced a third which Fleming converted to bring his team within a point after 25 minutes.
And the home side went in front just three minutes later.
Kris Hobson got good distance on his kick-off, but then Hugh Parker ran from the deep into the Irvine half, forcing yet another penalty for Fleming to put the city slickers 9-7 up with a long-range effort.
Four minutes later GHK extended their lead with the only other try of the match with a gift score.
Centre Adam McLay's kick ahead seemed to have come to nothing when it was gathered by Danyl Davies in the Irvine 22, but Craig Lang's subsequent clearance only made it as far as full back Tony Herron who ran it back for a touch down which Fleming converted to make it 16-7 at the break.
Fleming missed another penalty just before the turn-round and it took until the 66th minute for the next score, and this time it was Irvine's turn to score from a penalty, Kris Hobson making it a six-point game after GHK were ruled to have illegally disrupted an visiting attack.
Last-ditch defence kept the visitors in the game as the home side came roaring back but, in a rare Irvine attack, Ruchin Filander unfortunately knocked on attempting to gather a loose ball then, after a Kevin Lang's kick was anticipated by the home defence, GHK stormed upfield, eventually won another penalty and that man Fleming slotted home his fifth successful kick of the game to make the final score 19-10.
Irvine now complete their league campaign with a trip to Violetbank to play Annan on March 3.
There was better news for Marress, who rounded off their campaign with an excellent 34-0 derby victory over Ardrossan at Memorial Field.
John Murdoch scored two tries, and Stuart Nunan, Jamie Doolan and Martin Sneddon also crossed for the visitors.
A conversion from Jordan Duncan and two conversions and a penalty from Stuart Tracey rounded off the scoring.
The result means Marress clinch second place in Reserve West Pod B, and with it a berth in the play-offs for promotion to Reserve West 1. They will play a semi-final away to the winners of Pod D on March 24.