Accies loss means Newton Stewart back in title race

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Newton Stewart RFC 27

Cambuslang RFC 16

BT West Division 1

Newton Stewart RFC travelled to Cambuslang last weekend in the late stages of the league competition.

With only two losses blotting their copybook this season, both to the league leaders, the Red Army were determined to maintain their consistency.

Cambuslang are fighting to avoid relegation however, and would give everything they had to upset the form.

Going straight on the attack from the kick-off, Newton Stewart were awarded an early penalty. The angle was a difficult one so they elected to kick to touch instead of going for the points. A decision well made, Cambuslang put up some good defence initially, but gave away another penalty, right in front of the posts this time. Stand-off Jamie Muir slotted the kick home to allow the visitors an early lead.

With their nerves settled, the Reds began to relax into the game and looked to keep the pressure on their opposition. Back row James Wallace showed some good footwork to step the Cambuslang centre and create some space for himself before passing the ball out to Muir who linked with blindside flanker David Montgomery to give the latter the first try of the game. Muir proved he was in good kicking form by adding the conversion to stretch the lead to 0-10.

As play continued the referee found his voice and whistle. He began to penalise both teams repeatedly, and arguably excessively, resulting in both teams getting frustrated. With cages rattled, Cambuslang started to initiate some attack of their own. Their endeavours paid off when the referee blew for another penalty against Newton Stewart, this one for not rolling away, and the home team closed the gap to 3-10.

The Reds’ coaching staff always look for a reaction from their players after conceding a score, and they certainly got one this time. Going straight back into their opponents’ twenty-two, Montgomery took the ball from the base of a ruck and passed to David Sommerville who released his fellow centre Fraser Morton, hitting a superb line, to produce a great Newton Stewart try. The conversion went wide this time.

The remainder of the first half was scrappy and continued to involve much more of the referee than either team would like. Newton Stewart were given a final warning for repeated penalty infringements, with a yellow card threatened to follow.

Some good defensive line-outs from the Reds resulted in several stolen balls, and ensured that the momentum remained firmly with them until the half-time whistle blew.

The second half began as the previous one had ended, with Newton Stewart pressurising the home team. With some slick passing they moved Cambuslang from side to side and looked sure to find a way through, until the Cambuslang inside centre made a great interception and won the race to the corner to immediately change the tide. The conversion went wide, but the gap was down to seven points.

Sensing the opportunity for an upset, the home team came to life. Newton Stewart on the other hand found their luck had deserted them completely. The referee proved to be as good as his word when he penalised captain William McCornick and simultaneously dismissed him to the sinbin for ten minutes thinking time.

Cambuslang took the chance afforded to them and kicked the resultant penalty to narrow the scores further still to 11-15.

The referee continued to play a significant role in this game when he yellow-carded a Cambuslang second row now for violent conduct following an altercation in a maul.

The momentum firmly with the home team now, they began an attack deep in the Newton Stewart half. Their outside centre ran a good line at pace to crash over for another try and to secure the lead for the first time in the game. The conversion missed, only a point separated the two teams.

To their credit, Newton Stewart refused to let their heads drop, and back to their full complement, they set about taking control of the match once more.

Spinning the ball wide, Montgomery passed to Muir, who sent it on to fullback Tyrell Wilson. With some sensational pace and impressive footwork, Wilson rounded the opposition number 13 to score an important try in the corner. The difficult conversion went wide, but the lead belonged to the Reds once more.

Within minutes, Newton Stewart were back in their opponents half. Great communication between the back row players allowed James Wallace to find Montgomery once more running at pace. He burst through the defence and around the full back to score his second try of the game. Muir secured the conversion this time to complete the scoring at 16-27.

The remainder of the game was not without its drama however. Players on both sides were taken aback when the ball exploded with force inside a ruck! This event momentarily took the attention from the referee, who was forced to rectify the matter soon after by issuing a further yellow card to Reds’ hooker Richard Fiskin with minutes left to play.

This sour ending did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Newton Stewart team however, who were delighted to secure the win in a game which had been anything but a walkover. Their resilience in the face of the Cambuslang resurgence was admirable and key to securing the win.

Man of the match in this game was full back Tyrell Wilson. He scored a great try, showing off his impressive pace, and repeatedly looked dangerous when returning kicks.

Elsewhere in the country last weekend, league leaders Glasgow Accies RFC were defeated by Kilmarnock RFC in a shock upset. Previously unbeaten, Accies had looked sure to secure the title, however this defeat has opened up the race once again. With two games left to play, Newton Stewart will need to win them both to remain in contention, but a league win is not yet off the cards. The tension mounts.

The penultimate game of the season for the Reds will be away to Lenzie RFC on Saturday 2nd April.