ALL the points were scored in the first half as East Kilbride 2nds ended Marress’ promotion hopes with a 19-5 win at Torrance House.
The damage was done in the first 30 minutes as the Irvine side conceded three tries, but although Ruchin Filander pulled one back on the stroke of half time, the visitors were unable to find that second try that would have set up a grandstand finish.
Instead the match ended on a sour note after it became increasingly marred by fighting between the two teams and, in 76 minutes, with the home side’s lead looking decisive, referee Fred McEvilly decided there was little point in carrying on any longer and blew for time.
After a frantic start EK settled their nerves with the opening try after ten minutes when Irvine were penalised for offside as they attempted to regroup after a stolen line out, and the home forwards mauled the ball over the line in the left corner with hooker Jason Currie claiming the touchdown.
Fly-half Calum Blackwood was unable to add the conversion but moments later the writing was on the wall when the home forwards stole a lineout ball and centre Bert Blackwood crossed in the opposite corner with Calum Blackwood’s conversion attempt somewhat fortuitously bouncing off the top of the crossbar and through to make it 12-0.
As things got worse for Irvine Paul Paterson was sin-binned for stamping as he tried to free the ball from a ruck, Calum Blackwood kicked the penalty to the corner, and from the resulting lineout the home forwards once again mauled the ball towards the line before shipping it to the backs who sent Thornton in for a try which counted this time.
Blackwood’s conversion increased the lead to 19-0 with just 29 minutes gone but, after Irvine full-back Stuart Tracey missed a kickable penalty seven minutes later, the visitors finished the half on a high when Filander was sent clear to score to the right hand side of the posts.
Tracey’s conversion was eventually disallowed after some confusion amongst the match officials and Calum Blackwood passed up a terrific opportunity to increase the home side's lead even further but his penalty went wide and the score remained 19-5 at the break.
The game began to boil over in 45 minutes when the first of numerous bouts of fisticuffs at a midfield scrum led to home number 8 Craig Ferguson receiving a yellow card and ten minutes in the cooler, but Marress were unable to capitalise on his absence, and instead the best chance of the power play fell to EK winger Scott Johnston who had to be forced into touch as he made headway down the left.
Marress, aided by a number of penalties as the home side’s discipline continued to desert them, began to enjoy more possession as the game entered the final quarter, but they were unable to make it count and, after a couple of nasty exchanges at either end the match was brought to a premature conclusion when Irvine managed to thwart a home scoring attempt right on the line at which point the latest and last fight broke out and the referee decided enough was enough.
East Kilbride now play Greenock Wanderers 2nds in one of the two finals to determine promotion to Reserve West 1, while for Marress it is back to the drawing board and another season of pod rugby – although their results this season suggest they will be in contention for promotion again next term