Newton Stewart 0, Irvine 18
With Irvine being one of the top performing sides in the West region this season, this was sure to be a stern task for Newton Stewart.
However, after hearing of Irvine’s first league defeat last weekend it was clear they were not invincible and so Newton Stewart entered this tie in a hopeful mood.
This RBS Shield first round tie, played in glorious conditions, began with Newton Stewart playing into the breeze for the first 40 minutes.
The game took some time to get going as both sides vied for an opening. Alisdair Gaw made a couple of early breaks through the use of his trademark No8 pick up and made some useful ground. Likewise, Irvine produced some attractive rugby through their silky backs.
This tat for tat rugby went on for the majority of the first half and it wasn’t until 27 minutes played that Irvine’s southern hemisphere import, Ruchin Filander, drew first blood. There was no stopping the burly South African as he sauntered in from the 22. Stand-off Kris Hobson took the score to 7-0 with the conversion.
With no further points scored and seconds to go before half-time, Newton Stewart’s fortunes were dealt a decisive blow when veteran talisman John McWhirter was felled and subsequently helped from the pitch with an knee injury. He was replaced by novice debutant Robin White.
Irvine seemed to begin the second period with a renewed purpose and it wasn’t long until they were extending their lead. Some shoddy Newton Stewart discipline gave the visitors two opportunities to kick at goal and the prolific Hobson made no mistake in executing both attempts. Suddenly the game was beginning to slip out of the Newton player’s grasp and the score board read 13–0 in favour of the Ayrshire team.
Newton Stewart rallied and some poking kicks from stand-off Jack Ritchie saw the Reds venture close to the Irvine line. Ritchie was gaining some useful yards but this was looking like a Saturday where Newton might be unable to turn these opportunities into points.
Irvine were able to turn their chances into points though. A charged-down clearance attempt saw Irvine second row Alan Thomson gather the ball and bundle over the line to slam the decisive nail in the coffin for Newton’s cup hopes.
Newton Stewart laid siege to the Irvine line in the closing stages, but despite the award of several penalties and the addition of eight minutes of injury time, they were unable to capitalise on their possession and the game closed without the hosts adding any points to the board.
A return of league duties this Saturday (October 12) sees the Reds back on the road as they travel north to take on the might of Helensburgh. This will be another tough encounter in a competition where there are no easy fixtures.
Newton Stewart: Martin Wallace, Richard Fiskin, Ben Haigh, Kenneth Faulds, Mark Adams (caption), William McCornick, James Wallace, Alisdair Gaw, Robbie McCornick, Jack Ritchie, John McWhirter, Mark McCornick, David Montgomery, Liam Brawls, Tyrell Wilson, Gary McDonald, Kit Wright, Robin White