Another home win for Reds against Perthshire!
By Jo firstname.lastname@example.org
Tight game in difficult weather conditions.
With back-to-back home games, Newton Stewart RFC welcomed Perthshire RFC to Bladnoch Park last weekend to play their latest league match in some abysmal weather conditions.
The opening play saw Perthshire immediately looking dangerous and they pushed quickly upfield, pressurising the Newton Stewart line. Having to get organised and commit to tackles long before their bodies were fully warmed up, the Reds did remarkably well to keep Perthshire at bay in those opening minutes.
With the wind blowing strongly behind them however, the Reds’ clearance kick bought them a lot of territory, and they set off downfield to try to create some opportunities of their own. The visitors were very dangerous at the breakdown however, and turned over the ball far too easily, a repetitive issue throughout this match which must be addressed going forwards.
Tight-head prop Ronan MacDonald impressed in these early stages of the match with some big ball carries and a devastating defensive tackle also.
The driving rain and slippery surface dictated that this would be a game best played predominantly through the forwards. The work rate and physicality produced by the forward pack was immense, with the half-backs Robbie McCornick and David Gaw utilising the wind well, kicking the ball high to gain yards.
With fifteen minutes played a rare opportunity to involve the back line arose, and centre Fraser Morton (captain) collected the ball in space before running through the remaining defensive line to score. The blustery wind made kicking very difficult, and this first conversion attempt slipped wide.
Perthshire were no doubt a dangerous looking opposition and made the Reds work hard to keep them off the scoresheet in this first half. Powerful running from the visitors drew huge hits from the Newton Stewart defences and the effort of William McCornick and Connal McDonald in the second row was enormous.
A penalty for Newton Stewart later in the first half gave them an opportunity to extend their lead, but the wind played havoc once more, dropping at an inconvenient moment to leave Morton’s kick bouncing off the cross bar. The Reds scrabbled to collect it and capitalise, however Perthshire bundled man and ball into touch, ending the opportunity and the half.
Some nervous discussions took place over the break as the visitor’s were still only five points behind and now had the benefit of the wind as the second half got underway. Only two minutes into it the Red’s gave away a penalty deep in the Perthshire half, and they took the kick and the points to reduce the gap to 5-3.
Coach Martin Wallace’s half-time talk must have hit home however and Newton Stewart began to look more like their confident and creative selves as the game progressed. Despite the disadvantage of the wind in this half, it was the Reds who seemed to be making ground now.
Stand-off David Gaw produced an excellent try in the far corner to extend the lead. Collecting the ball in space, he dummied his opposite man before outpacing the remaining defence to score (conversion missed).
As the minutes ticked by the Reds looked increasingly dangerous. Back row Allan Ferrie, who gave a good account of himself at flanker this week, used the bulk of Martin Wallace help to propel him towards the line for a try, but still had to use every inch of his long limbs to touch the ball on the line at full stretch. This time Fraser Morton’s conversion was successful and the score totalled 17-3 which was where it would stay until full-time.
Full credit to Perthshire who put in a lot of effort and pushed Newton Stewart to the wire in this game. With only fifteen men travelling down their subs bench was empty but the efforts of those who made it were not in doubt.
The Reds had to grind out this win: with the set piece under pressure and the breakdown vulnerable, there are definitely areas to work on ahead of next weekend. On a positive note however, the defensive effort was exemplary as always, and the work rate of the forwards in such exhausting conditions remarkable.
All the subs made a real impact when they came on: David Adams, Thomas MacDonald and Richard FIskin joining veteran Russell Gaw on the bench, with special mention to the latter who came on in the second half, meaning there were no fewer than four Gaw’s on the pitch simultaneously (father Russell with son David and nephews Calum and Jack)!
Man of the match this week is second row Connal McDonald who put a phenomenal shift in. As a newcomer to the squad this season he is cementing his position in the pack as a committed workhorse and made some important carries in this match to gain territory.
Next weekend will see Newton Stewart travel to Carrick RFC in Maybole to mark the halfway stage of the season. With the Autumn Internationals underway kick-off will be early, at 12.30pm.
Team: Russell Morton, Jamie Muir, Fraser Morton (captain), Jack Gaw, Robert Service, David Gaw, Robbie McCornick, Martin Wallace, Ross Campbell, Ronan McDonald, William McCornick, Connal McDonald, Allan Ferrie, Calum Gaw, James Wallace. Subs: David Adams, Thomas MacDonald, Richard Fiskin, Russell Gaw.