RUGBY: Carrick RFC step up preparations for new season

Carrick's Club Captain Ross Marsden and Jamie McCauley, skipper of West of Scotland. INLT 35-922-CON
Carrick's Club Captain Ross Marsden and Jamie McCauley, skipper of West of Scotland. INLT 35-922-CON

Carrickfergus Rugby Club continued their 150th anniversary celebrations at the weekend when they hosted West of Scotland - also celebrating their 150th - at the weekend.

On their previous visit to Carrick, 25 years ago, West of Scotland were able to field four Scottish internationals.

While their playing strength may not be quite so illustrious nowadays, they compete in a League more akin to the AIL, than the Qualifying League, and they certainly provided a stiff test for the home side.

After the first half-hour or so, it was obvious the visitors were much the better side and they ended up winning 31-8, running in five tries to Carrick’s one.

That said, it was a squad match to give coaches a chance to look at more players than would be possible in a normal match, and it may have been a disadvantage that the home side had over 30 players.

West of Scotland dominated the scrums, had a solid line-out and largely comtrolled play in the loose and their dangerous backs were given plenty opportunity to run at Carrick.

Andy and David McKeen were back in Carrick jerseys and the former looked especially sharp while he was on during the first half-hour.

Aaron McKinney played virtually the entire session and, even in his fourth decade, at times still looked the best player on the pitch.

Last year’s Under-18s out-half, Sam Wallace, shows considerable potential and is not afraid to get involved over the ball when necessary.

Mark Gordon in the second row and Ryan Bailey in the centre also showed up well.

The game will have helped Carrick’s First XV squad with preparation for the season ahead.

Their 2015-16 campaign begins on Saturday (August 29) with a Conference League game against Banbridge II,