Rugby: Stewartry 10 Newton Stewart 41

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A SECOND successive week of miserable playing conditions and another miserable day for the Stewartry lads as the visiting Newton Stewart squad inflicted a comprehensive trouncing with a six-try rout at the Greenlaw.

Newton took an early three-point lead with a penalty but Stewartry countered to level and early posturing saw both sets of forwards scramble for domination.

However, some 15 minutes in saw a delightful try from the Reds’ scrum-half, David Sommerville. That provided the confidence to build on some excellent 15-man rugby and take control for most of the remainder of the half.

A push-over try was next on the Newton menu, with No8 Alistair Gaw only requiring to touch down and, although the forwards would claim try number three for No.3, prop Sandy Hamilton, the Newton backs were providing some entertainment with the sibling rivalry of the Muir brothers being keenly contested. The younger brother, Jamie, was the clear winner with a fine performance as Newton stand-off and, on any other day, would have been man of the match. Unfortunately, Sommerville, with a 12-point haul in the first half, was proving to be more than a handful for the opposition with his varied play keeping them on the back foot and snuffing out any threat of Stewartry getting into the game.

To their credit, Stewartry battled hard and a concerted spell of pressure coupled with a rash of penalty awards resulted in one being converted by Cammy Fenwick.

In the closing minutes of the half, Stewartry should have taken points but, as happened so often, the final play was rushed and handling errors allowed the visitors to escape without conceding a try. The half-time scoreboard probably a fair reflection of play at 3-22.

The second half opened as the first had finished, with Stewartry having their best spell of the game but, again, with penalty points on offer the boys in black – or by this time brown – elected to go for try glory. A try did come but, unfortunately for the home side, it was another for Newton’s 17-year-old scrum-half Sommerville in a near carbon copy of his first – a neatly executed chip and chase leaving the Stewartry defence decidedly flat-footed. The home side battled on bravely and, 15 minutes in, after some concerted pressure on the Newton line, managed to scramble the ball over for a consolation, but nonetheless deserved, try by Martin Smith, which Fenwick converted try. However, unable to build on their meagre spoils Stewartry’s possession became scarce and Newton once again began to dominate in all areas. The Reds’ back row were more than a handful for the home side and, with hypothermia looming, all that remained in the closing stages was for Newton to put a final nail in the coffin of a despondent Stewartry side.

McCornick, at centre, finished of a good counter-attack from Newton fullback Armstrong and Russell, on the wing, added to his 1000-plus career points tally for a last-minute try. With Sommerville converting both in difficult conditions, this was probably his best performance of the season and, with two tries and 21 points, there could only be one man of the match.

This was another ominous defeat for Stewartry. But, with four wins in a row for Newton Stewart, it is a shame this was the last encounter before Christmas. Next up is the local derby with Wigtownshire to contest the Spice Cup – at Bladnoch Park on January 2 at 2pm.

Newton Stewart: G McDonald, M Wallace, S Hamilton, M Adams, R Vance, H Hamilton, J Wallace, A Gaw, D Sommerville, J Muir, I Russell, M McCornick, G McMillan, J McWhirter, N Armstrong. Reps: R Fiskin, B Haigh, S Costley.

n Stewartry gained some revenge in the 2nd xv friendly game against Newton Stewart. The match, which kicked off early because of the weather and pitch conditions, and Stewartry ran out winners with a 17-5 score thanks to two tries from C Mosey and one from A Mellon, with a conversion by D Steele.

John Johnstone