Stewartry 0, Newton Stewart 31
Once again this was a hard-fought local derby with the Sandy Irving Memorial Trophy the prize for the winners.
Newton, holders for the past three years, started the game with the aim of making it four.
The Reds were soon driving into the Stewartry 22, where the home defence was tested to the full. But Stewartry weathered the storm and were soon making progress into the Newton half and were rewarded with a penalty kick after 11 minutes. This was one of many penalties given away by the visitors in the first quarter of the match – and was something of a novel phenomenon for the Stewartry supporters as all season long it had been Stewartry who were being penalised.
Regular kicker Cammy Fenwick was missing so up stepped John Muir to take the kick but the ball slipped past the post.
However, Newton were soon back in the Stewartry half, winning lineouts and driving the Blacks back 15 metres before losing out to another penalty award.
Stewartry prop Cannon and centre Boyd made progress for the Blacks but it finished with stand-off Mosey having to clear their lines with a big kick to halfway.
Newton’s backrow of Wright, Wallace and Hamilton continued to make inroads into the Stewartry half but the referee was Stewartry’s man of the match for the first 20 minutes with his right arm indicating Stewartry advantage for yet another penalty.
After about 22 minutes there was a sigh of relief from the Newton Stewart supporters with, at last, a penalty for the Reds. Newton continued to attack the Stewartry line and were stopped just short before the danger was cleared.
Stewartry’s Muir, Wallace and Mosey made some jinking runs through the Newton defence but any ground made was lost to Newton taking the scrum against the head and driving the Blacks back 30 metres.
Minutes later some quick thinking by Newton with a quick lineout gave them the chance to breakthrough the disorganised Stewartry defence to score the opening try, though the conversion was missed. Both teams battled hard for the rest of the first half and only a try-saving tackle from Stewartry’s John Muir in the last minute of the half kept Newton from adding to their lead before the break
The second half was much the same as the first with Newton showing more aggression in attack as they defended the trophy. After an hour Stewartry had their best spell in the Newton 22, putting pressure on with some driving mauls. A penalty award was kicked to the corner for a catch and drive atempt by the Blacks but Newton stole the lineout and the danger was cleared.
After 73 minutes Stewartry’s flood defences burst in a game that had been closely contested by both teams with nothing in it, though Newton deserved their narrow lead.
Stewartry lost a scrum against the head and the visitors’ back row charged up the pitch to score a second try, which was converted this time for a 12-0 lead.
In 77 minutes, Newton had won ball from the kickoff and worked their way back into the Stewartry 22 where they broke through for try number three. Again the conversion was added.
If Stewartry thought that was it, Newton did not and they managed two more scores in the 80th and 81st minutes as Stewartry could only chase shadows as Wilson, the Newton fullback, ran from deep in his own half, outsprinting everybody for the final try – and best – of the match.
So Newton Stewart retain the Sandy Irving Trophy for a record fourth time in a row after a deserved victory but with eight minutes to go it was still anybody’s game before Stewartry collapsed.
This was a good warm-up as both teams restart their league programmes this week. Stewartry are at home to McLaren from Callander and they have asked for an early kickoff so it will start at 1pm.
Stewartry: J Fingland, A Kerr, J Muir, D Boyd, B Williams, C Mosey, R Wallace, T Cannon, D Burton, S Broll, R Porteous, S Hogg, L Henderson, S McCulloch, I Fenwick (captain), I McMorran, M Smith and C Walker.
Newton Stewart: T Wilson, J McWhirter, I Russell, M McCornick, J Hamilton, J Muir, R McCornick, S Hamilton, R Fiskin, M Wallace, W McCornick, M Adams, S Wright, J Wallace, H Hamilton.