Hard loss for Reds at Ardrossan
By Jo firstname.lastname@example.org
Newton slip back to second in the league table
Newton Stewart RFC were on the road last weekend, travelling to Ardrossan for what was always expected to be one of the most difficult fixtures this season. Tough opponents on any occasion, they are formidable on home ground. The ground was very wet as the game kicked off, and with the rain continuing to fall it looked set to be more of a wrestle in the mud than the fast-paced running game which the Reds excel at these days.
The first ten minutes was frantic with Ardrossan pressurising early and Newton Stewart put on the back foot. Securing possession deep in his own half, stand-off David Gaw tried to chip the ball over into space, but the conditions proved too slippery and he mis-kicked, the ball landing right in the hands of an Ardrossan player who saw his opportunity and dived over the line to score.
The home side continued their onslaught after the restart, dominating in the scrums, although the legality of their loose-head prop was called into question by the Reds’ supporters. With a scrum set on the 10m line, Ardrossan got the nudge and trundled towards the line before the scrum came down and the referee blew up for a penalty try against Newton Stewart and the Reds were 14-0 down with fifteen minutes played.
An injury to loose-head prop Ross Campbell saw a change of personnel in the front row, with Gavin Freeland coming on to replace him. With his added ballast in the pack, the dynamics changed in the scrum and Newton Stewart were now able to get into the game.
Turning over the ball in their own half, David Gaw kicked the ball long and the Ardrossan receiver knocked on as he tried to gather the ball. With a scrum on the 5-metre line the Newton Stewart pack stood solid at last, and James Wallace burst from the back to score. Fraser Morton converted.
In the final moments of the first half the Reds worked their way deep into Ardrossan’s territory. A long forward’s battle ensued, the rucking and counter-rucking relentless, until eventually tight-head prop Richard FIskin touched the ball down for another try. The conversion missed narrowly and Newton Stewart were 14-12 down at half-time.
The Reds dominated the early play in the second half but couldn’t seem to turn their possession into points as the conditions made it so difficult for the backs to get into the game.
When Ardrossan started to fight their way back into the Newton Stewart half ten minutes later, the forwards started their incessant pressurising once more. The ‘pick and go’ approach continued for a prolonged spell until eventually the wore down the Reds defences and scored a third try, but no conversion.
When Newton Stewart were awarded a penalty a few minutes later Morton narrowed the gap to four points.
The remained of the second half was nerve-wracking stuff. Ardrossan looked the stronger of the two teams as the game wore on, but Newton Stewart continued to give their all. Some spilled balls here and there were frustrating for all but could not be avoided in the conditions.
Liam Brawls impressed when he came on from the bench with some devastating tackling. As Duncan Skimming (second row) and Richard Fiskin both went off injured with ten minutes to play, the game went to uncontested scrums.
Ardrossan got a final converted try late in the second half, and though Newton Stewart battled hard right until the end, they could not recover any of the deficit and the game finished 26-15.
This loss will be a blow to the Reds at this stage of the season, however there can be no doubting the effort or commitment of the Newton Stewart players in this match. The gave everything but were outplayed in the conditions by a fired-up Ardrossan side who deserved their win.
Calum Gaw, Liam Brawls and Fraser Morton impressed with their tackling in this game, but Man of the Match was man mountain Gavin Freeland who stabilised the scrum when it was under serious pressure, counter-rucked superbly and made some explosive carries.
Next weekend Newton Stewart host Hillhead Jordanhill RFC for their last league game ahead of the Christmas break. The Reds will be keen to get back to winning ways as quickly as possible now and try to fight their way back to first place in the league table.
Team: Russell Morton, Robert Service, Fraser Morton (captain), Jack Gaw, Jamie Muir, David Gaw, Robbie Service, Ross Campbell, Thomas MacDonald, Richard Fiskin, Duncan Skimming, William McCornick, Alan Ferrie, Calum Gaw, James Wallace. Subs: Gavin Freeland, Liam Brawls, David Adams, Russell Gaw.