THIS local derby never fails to provide a spectacle and with Bladnoch Park the venue for their first encounter of the season, the local lads certainly provided a nail-biter for the healthy turnout of supporters.
Underfoot conditions were good and Newton looked menacing in early forays, but handling errors allowed Stewartry to clear their lines.
Eventually, though, pressure would lead to points and it was Jamie Muir at stand-off who was to breach the Stewartry lines, with Russell converting. However, Stewartry countered and, minutes later, winger Bobby Wallace slipped over to score in the corner.
But from then on in the first half, it was all Newton Stewart. With new-found confidence, the Newton backs launched attacks with some fine running rugby and centre McMillan made a break to give Gibson the chance to score try number two.
Stewartry stand-off Tommy Fenwick was kicking well out of hand but Gibson and Muir mopped up cleanly and, with counter-attack on their minds, Newton applied the pressure time and time again. A penalty kept the visitors’ count moving but, as the half drew to a close, a drive from ten metres out saw Newton tight-head Sandy Hamilton touch down to move make it 19-8 at the break.
This was a game Newton should have closed out much sooner than they actually did, but credit in the second half must go to the lads from CD.
Ben Haigh added a try for Newton Stewart to put them 24-8 ahead but, from that point on, it was all Stewartry and a fine display from their forwards saw them pressure the Newton line time and time again.
A five-point gain was pushed over in the corner after 60 minutes, with a further seven-point reward coming only moments later after some indiscipline in the Reds ranks allowed a succession of tap penalties and a score under the posts.
With ten minutes to go, the score at 24-20 and Stewartry in command, the closing chapter was decidedly tense. The boys in black came to within a whisker of a try through Wallace on the wing, with only a last-ditch effort from Gibson keeping him out but in an excellent counter, Newton put the game to rest. A good off-load from Sommerville in his own half saw the ball traverse the park in safe hands and a neat step inside from Reds winger Costley saw the youngster touch down for a try and a huge sigh of relief from the home crowd. A stuffy second-half performance from the visitors had Newton reeling but this week sees the Reds host league leaders GHK in what should be stern test of their defensive lines at Bladnoch Park, with a 3pm kick-off.
Man of the match was Newton Stewart stand-off Jamie Muir.
West Division 1,
Stewartry v Marr Waysiders v Annan Newton Stewart v GHK
West Division 2
Helensburgh v Wigtownshire