Newton Stewart 58, Annan 0
Being the only club in RBS West Division 1 not to have had a game postponed, Annan departed a wet and windy Bladnoch Park ruing the fact that postponement had been deferred.
The boys in black and gold were admittedly short of key players but – sadly or gladly depending on one’s persuasion – this match was all about Newton Stewart.
This was a fine display of 15-man rugby that the home support have been waiting for.
The opening 10 points came in 10 minutes, with Jamie Muir providing a try and, a back in form, Iain Russell converting and kicking a penalty – all courtesy of some ferocious driving play by the forwards.
A further five minutes and with the ball spun wide, Liam Brawls on the wing was brought to ground only yards short but with support on hand it was left to flanker McCornick to claim another five points.
Annan struggled for composure and as the scoreboard ticked over in time with the clock, the Reds were getting a comfortable ride. They assumed control in the scrum and in the loose the forwards were too quick and powerful for the opposition. With the Newton backs keen to throw the ball around frequent attacks were launched and could have been finished more clinically.
However, 25 minutes in, a five-metre scrum put Newton in prime position for a push-over try but after a succession of penalty awards referee Scott Livingstone lost patience with the visitors’ defence and awarded a penalty try.
Buoyed with success, the Reds set about the try bonus before half-time and with scrum-half Robbie McCornick providing a steady supply of quick ball Jamie Muir was a handful for his opposite number McCann and, as the fleet-footed stand-off slipped through the Annan defence, only a last-ditch tackle from Stephen Clarke denied his support runner Brawls from finishing a fine move. However, step-up the forwards and James Wallace to battle their way over for the fourth try. A fine conversion from Russell added to Annan’s woes and a 29-0 deficit looked too much.
As the second half opened the visitors enjoyed a bit more possession but the Reds strike runners came to the fore and with the opposition allowing Newton to escape tackles and offload, the runners wreaked havoc.
Some unorthodox running of penalties from within their own 22 saw Ben Haigh make a 50-metre break and hooker Richard Fiskin in support claimed a well-deserved five points.
Muir would claim his second try with a simple break through the middle of a ruck while the Annan defence slept, Russell again adding the conversion.
Next up was replacement prop Sandy Hamilton making the most popular break of the day but as his aspirations expired Haigh was on hand to complete the break and Iain Russell converted for a 41-0 tally.
As the game was played out the Reds added a further two tries courtesy of Muir and Haigh.
Many a long day since Bladnoch Park had witnessed the Reds scoring nine tries and for Annan their highlight was without doubt the post-match curry and profiteroles.
The return fixture at Violetbank in March 2014 will certainly have added spice. For the Reds, there were an abundance of contenders for man of the match. Iain Russell’s haul put him in the fray, and an assured performance from David Montgomery in the No.8 shirt will make it difficult to get it off him, but forgiving his white-line fever the award went to Jamie Muir for his hat-trick of tries.
The Reds have no game this week but next week sees them travel to face Glasgow Accies.
Scorers – tries: Muir (3), Haigh (2), Fiskin, W McCornick, Wallace, penalty try; conversions: Russell (5); penalties: Russell.
Newton Stewart: M Wallace, R Fiskin, I Matier, D Skimming, B. Haigh, W McCornick, J Wallace, D Montgomery, R McCornick, J Muir, I Russell, M McCornick, G McMillan, L Brawls, T Wilson. Reps: S Hamilton, J Ritchie, J McWhirter, R White.