Irvine are facing two proverbial cup finals following Saturday’s 16-10 defeat at Helensburgh.
The Marress side are now third bottom of the league and are due to end their campaign with trips to the two sides below them.
First up will be Newton Stewart whose home game against Marr fell victim to the weather, and then Garnock, who registered a vital win at home to Glasgow Accies, the following week.
With only one club likely to be relegated from West 1, Irvine will need victory in at least one of these games to ensure their survival, not least because the bottom two both have games in hand – albeit against the top two – and they will not want to leave the door open even a crack.
Saturday’s game was barely two minutes old when fly-half David Sterry dropped a goal to edge Helensburgh into the lead.
The next quarter hour belonged almost exclusively to Helensburgh, but apart from flanker Jonny Clipston being held up over the line and Sterry missing a penalty, the home side were unable to capitalise.
Irvine then enjoyed a spell of relative dominance, the highlight of which was a good break by scrum-half Robbie McVey who fed Ruchin Filander, who in turn tried to play in winger Neil McMillan but he headed straight ino traffic.
The home side worked their way back into the game and Sterry finally extended their lead on 38 minutes before his opposite number Ross Bryan got Irvine off the mark with a penalty of his own on the stroke of half time.
The sin-binning of home number eight Sean McNee in injury time was the only further incident before the first half ended with the hosts leading 6-3.
Despite their numerical disadvantage the home side began the second half as they had the first, notching the first try of the afternoon under the posts through centre Ali Cairns after a Bryan clearance attempt was charged down. Sterry added the conversion to put the home side 13-3 ahead.
Irvine responded by introducing Kris Hobson at fly-half in place of Ross Bryan, and began to force more penalties and attacking positions in the ‘burgh half.
The pressure finally told shortly before the hour when the Irvine forwards mauled over in the corner from a penalty lineout. Hobson’s conversion brought the score back to 13-10.
Irvine could have squared the match at 13-13 when they forced an inviting penalty in the Helensburgh half shortly afterwards, but they opted to attempt another try from a lineout instead.
Burgh stepped up a gear in response to the let-off, and twice Sterry had the chance to extend the home side’s lead from the kicking tee only to miss on both occasions, although he was unlucky to see the latter kick rebound off the near post. There was a flurry of yellow cards for Irvine in the closing stages before Sterry finally added a penalty goal with the last kick of the game.
Irvine are in action at Newton Stewart on Saturday while Marress are away to Greenock Wanderers.