Paisley 27, Wigtownshire 5
Wigtownshire travelled to Paisley on Saturday knowing they were going to be up against it. Their hosts were second in the league and in contention for promotion.
This was only the team’s third game since the New Year. The Shire boys’ last game at Mull, two weeks ago, was similarly plagued. Only 16 players were available to travel that day, and rail disruptions caused two of them to miss the connection to get the boat. Nevertheless the 14-player side only lost 12-5 and came away with a bonus point.
The home side kicked off and Wigtownshire failed to secure the ball but managed to bring play out of their half through the boot of Hamish McGeoch.
A short time later, at the first scrum, Paisley felt the full force of the Shire pack who drove upfield, and the visitors were soon on the Paisley 22. A poor lineout gave the home side possession but Campbell Reid was having none of it, charging down a clearance.
This time the lineout was working and took the ball against the throw. The backs got a chance to run, supported by the pack they managed to cross the line, only to be held up. But referee John Mulholland had spotted an earlier offside and brought play back for a penalty. Gordon Keith charged forward, Craig Hamilton took it on, Munro McConnell backed up, with the support of the pack, and he took the ball to score. The conversion attempt slipped wide.
With seven minutes gone, this was not in Paisley’s game plan and they started bringing on replacements to shore up their creaking pack. They restarted and mauled forward but were brought to a halt turning over possession for the scrum.
At the next scrum the reinforced Paisley pack tried to halt progress, holding players in, resulting in a stramash involving both sets of players.
Paisley continued to work hard but Shire stuck to their guns, when they turned the ball over, they kept possession and ran it out.
Eventually after 25 minutes Paisley managed to score. Thwarted in repeat attempts to bag a try they took the option of a penalty kick to get on the board.
After that the visitors came back on the offensive, so much so that Shire’s Gordon Keith was obstructed while attempting to take a quick throw at a lineout. This resulted in more confrontation and both players leaving the pitch for 10 minutes.
The home side was winning a little more possession which allowed them to show why they were sitting in second place as their back line was able to get into the game. With 36 minutes played they managed to cross the line for a try, which was converted for a 13-5 lead at the break.
Wigtownshire came out all guns blazing in the second half but could not break the home defence.
Tempers flared again as the game was bogged down and two more yellow cards were issued to Craig Hamilton and the Paisley hooker. Shire were beginning to get on top again, winning ball and giving their young backs a run. The Paisley defence held and they cleared upfield. The Shire youngsters brought it straight back. Paisley charged up to meet them, one individual using his shoulder to progress. He was shown a red card.
Uncontested scrums ensued and the advantage provided by the Shire pack was gone.
The visitors were working hard to stem the Paisley runners. One tackle was high and Ross McCreadie was shown a yellow card which gave Paisley the space they needed and they scored under the posts and added the conversion.
They fielded the restart and ran it straight back to break the Shire line again under the posts, adding the conversion. The game was brought to a close as tempers frayed again.
This was a very disappointing result for Wigtownshire, especially as they were so dominant in the scrum. The game was effectively killed once the scrums went uncontested. The game plan had been effective.
Wigtownshire now look forward to this weekend when they are away to Birkmyre, hoping for a change in their away record and maintain their fourth place in the league.
Team: C Hose, A Callum, H McGeoch, J McKie, S Cameron, A Farquahar (captain), C Hamilton; M Hastie, B Graham, M McConnell, G Dunlop, R Dewar, C Reid, G Keith, K McNeil. Reps: R McCreadie, D Ramsey.