Close game ends with victory for Reds!
By Jo firstname.lastname@example.org
Great performance from young team.
The Reds travelled to the capital last weekend to take on Murrayfield Wanderers RFC in the shadow of the national stadium. Wanderers had a shaky start to this season but have been improving steadily. The Reds’ squad has benefitted from increasing strength and depth in the last couple of seasons, and therefore travelled confidently despite missing some experienced players.
The first fifteen minutes of this match was contained within the middle section of the pitch, with neither side seeming able to break out. Constant drizzle and a strong wind made for difficult conditions; both the ball and the pitch very slippery. Knock-ons and dropped passes hindered fliuidity from both sides.
Murrayfield Wanderers eventually got a kick at the posts when Newton Stewart were penalised for handling in the ruck. The resultant kick was short however and the Reds had an opportunity to counter.
Maintaining possession a little better now, Newton Stewart pushed deep into the Wanderers half. Mark McCornick (capt) carried well, knocking more than one opponent off his feet as he bulldozed through.
Some big hits were coming in from the home defences: Jack Gaw was lost from the game through injury now, followed by Gavin Freeland shortly after.
The Reds were making headway, but slowly and with repeated knock-ons slowing progress until Wanderers were awarded a penalty deep in their own half. They kicked to touch then went on the attack from the resultant line-out. An overthrow was quickly tidied up and their wings took off at pace, with a neat chip and chase finishing off the opening try. The conversion kick was missed for a 5-0 lead.
Only five minutes later however Newton Stewart capitulated. A Newton Stewart scrum just inside the halfway line gave Alan Ferrie a chance to run from deep. Retaining the ball, the Reds put it through hands until hooker Thomas MacDonald received it on the left wing and showed strong finishing skills to touch down in the corner. Centre Fraser Morton converted impressively from the touchline to put the Reds 5-7 up.
Murrayfield Wanderers were determined to have the final say in the first half however, kicking a penalty shortly after before immediately following it up with another unconverted try, their pacy backs once again stretching the Reds’ line too far. The half-time whistle blew with Newton Stewart trailing 13-7.
After the break Newton Stewart came out looking lively. Pressurising deep in the Wanderers half, they spent considerable time knocking at the door, but credit to the home side, they defended stoically. With no way through, the Reds were forced to take a penalty kick when it was offered to narrow the gap to 13-10, Fraser Morton once again the scorer.
Murrayfield began pushing upfield this time and got Newton Stewart pinned back inside their own half for a spell. With the sustained pressure mounting Fraser Morton spotted a loose pass and intercepted just ten metres from his own line, running the length of the pitch for a superb opportunistic try, much needed in the circumstances. He secured the conversion too to put the Reds ahead once more.
As the home side looked to immediately counter the Reds slipped back into defensive mode. Back row Alan Ferrie slightly over-egged a tackle by lifting his opponent’s legs too high and received a yellow card as a result.
The Wanderers sensed weakness now and tried to capitalise. With only fourteen men to cover their line Newton Stewart were under serious pressure. The defensive display which followed was exceptional however: incessant tackling and relentless faith in each other allowed each man to stand his ground. The result was that despite a solid ten minutes backed against the posts, the Red held out and cleared their lines.
Getting back into their opposition half, the Reds were awarded a penalty within kicking distance. Taking the opportunity to extend their lead, Morton kicked for goal to extend the lead to 13-20. The final whistle blew minutes later to some signs of relief from the Newton Stewart camp.
This close encounter was a great game to watch, with both teams giving a superb defensive display. With an average age of just 20, Newton Stewart’s young team performed well in tricky conditions, with a cool-headed maturity under pressure to be proud of.
Mark McCornick led from the front once again and was backed up with supreme effort from Alan Ferrie and Calum Gaw in the back row. Young hooker Ross Campbell had a great game when he came on from the bench, stabilising the line out and making an impact in the loose. Fraser Morton made a definite mark on this game with his accurate kicking in a touch breeze, as well as his much-needed interception try.
But Man of the Match goes to the in-form James McMiken who had another strong game in the second row. His tackling in the prolonged Wanderers onslaught was phenomenal, whilst he used his height to full advantage in the line-out to make himself a real problem for his opponents. A great performance.
With the Six Nations competition getting underway next weekend the Reds have a couple of week off, before facing National 1 side Musselburgh in the next round of the National Cup. The club plans to take a supporters bus to watch this game, anyone interested in travelling should contact a member of the committee.
Team: Jamie Muir, Robert Service, Fraser Morton, Jack Gaw, David Adams, David Gaw, Robbie McCornick, Gavin Freeland, Thomas MacDonald, Ronan McDonald, James McMiken, Duncan Skimming, Mark McCornick, Calum Gaw, Alan Ferrie. Subs: Ross Campbell, Russell Morton, Liam Brawls, Mark Craig.