Top of table clash ends in defeat for Reds.
By Jo firstname.lastname@example.org
Unbeaten run at home ends!
Newton Stewart RFC played host to Gordonians RFC last weekend for a top of the table clash, the visitors leading the league with an impressive unbeaten record this season. Having only narrowly lost at the away fixture in Aberdeen earlier this season, the Reds were keen to upset the leaders’ good run but knew they would need to be at their best to do so.
With the kick-off came an explosion of energy from Newton Stewart, with centre Fraser Morton immediately bursting up the left wing. As the Reds looked to establish themselves in their opponents’ half in these early minutes of the game, second row William McCornick suffered a serious head knock which unfortunately ended his involvement in the match. Maintaining possession well however, the Reds came again up the right wing this time, where a big carry from prop Gavin Freeland preceded winger Robert Service displaying incredible strength to haul himself over the line, dragging a multitude of Gordonians players with him! Centre Jack Gaw secured the conversion to give the Reds an early 7-0 lead.
Quick to retaliate however, Gordonians immediately countered. Their burly forwards took turns making steady headway up the Reds’ half until their hooker bulldozed over for a try. The conversion kick was missed however and Newton Stewart retained a two-point lead.
A tight forwards battle got underway which underpinned much of the first half. A fiercely physical match, the hits came in hard and fast from both sides. James McMiken and Mark McCornick (capt) tackled incessantly for Newton Stewart, whilst flanker Calum Gaw joined the latter as a thorn in the side of Gordonians at the breakdown.
The visitors had the bulk of the possession in this half but met a stoical Red defence at every turn. When Newton Stewart got possession however, they gave it away too easily, some nerves affecting them perhaps in their biggest game so far this season.
The late stages of the first half saw Gordonians steadily increase the pressure on the Reds. The defensive workload was phenomenal from Newton Stewart, but the visitors’ sheer intensity of pressure paid off and their hooker rumbled over for his second try of the day, this time with the conversion kick to follow.
Jack Gaw helped steady the ship by scoring a high-pressure penalty for the Reds with the final stroke of the first half to go into the break 10 – 12 behind.
Heading back out onto the field with everything to play for, Newton Stewart looked to tighten up their handling and try to sneak back in front.
Pressure mounted however when Gordonians were awarded and scored a penalty just three minutes in. The Reds had an opportunity to reciprocate shortly afterwards, however an uncharacteristic miss from Jack Gaw left the score at 10 – 15.
Some better play followed from Newton Stewart with the home side dominating the possession now. The battle remained intensely physical, with neither side giving an inch. Hooker Thomas MacDonald made a superb break for the Reds to give them some field position. Another penalty was awarded shortly after for an off-side infringement and Gaw took his chance now to narrow the gap back to two points.
Midway through the second half the level-headed Gordonians showed a moment of weakness themselves when a straight-forward penalty kick went wide. If the home support hoped this would be the catalyst for the Reds to take control, it was sadly not to be. Just five minutes later the visitors found a space out in the right corner to score a converted try and stretch the gap to 13-22.
With twelve minutes left to play the Reds dug deep. Another penalty kick was awarded within kicking distance, but once more it went awry and the feeling that victory was just not meant to be took hold.
Battling right to the bitter end however, Newton Stewart pushed ever onwards. With the very last minute of the game stand-off David Gaw found some space out wide and ran for the corner to score a try. Jack Gaw followed his cousin’s fabulous score with the most impressive kick of the day, converting from the touch-line to leave the team just two points behind as the final whistle blew.
The Reds fought hard in this match, as they always do, but were frustrated by some handling errors. Full credit to Gordonians however, who were a well-drilled side and thoroughly deserving of their victory.
Good performances came from hooker Thomas MacDonald and lock Alan Ferrie, but the back-row players stood out most in this physical match. Calum Gaw and James Wallace worked tirelessly, but captain Mark McCornick led with way with his ferocity in the tackle and prowess at the breakdown to secure the Man of the Match title for this game.
The club would like to wish stalwart William McCornick best wishes for a speedy recovery following his injury, and to recognise and thank team physio Gillian Vance for her dedication and skills in looking after all the players as well as she does.
Next weekend the team will travel to Edinburgh to take on Murrayfield Wanderers.
Team: Russell Morton, Robert Service, Fraser Morton, Jack Gaw, Jamie Muir, David Gaw, Robbie McCornick, Ross Campbell, Thomas MacDonald, Gavin Freeland, Alan Ferrie, William McCornick, Mark McCornick (capt), Calum Gaw, James Wallace. Subs: James McMiken, Liam Brawls, David Adams, Ronan McDonald.