’Shire bounce back to winning ways

Wigtownshire 19, Waysiders/Drumpellier 17

Wigtownshire’s visitors were relegated from Division 1 last season and have found things difficult since the start of this term with only one win under their belt.

However, past experience when playing W/D, as they are known to their fans, has taught ’Shire that they are no pushovers. They have also managed to run their opposition close in their games to date, taking four losing bonus points for keeping the scoreline difference to within seven points.

With Wigtownshire only three places above them in the league, they would be determined to pick up points in this bottom of the table clash. ’Shire, still smarting from defeats on the previous two Saturdays, were equally determined to make amends and give their supporters something to cheer about.

It was a fine afternoon with no wind when Wigtownshire kicked off playing towards Ladies Walk. “A great day for running rugby!” was the expectation expressed by the supporters present.

It was the home team who came out the blocks fastest, taking the game to the visitors. The power of the ’Shire scrum was immediately evident giving a platform for attack. Similarly, good early lineout jumping provided fast ball for attacking play. Good passing and support kept the pressure on and brought them up the park. Unfortunately, the final pass just would not stick and knocking on kept them from the try line. In defence, ’Shire were resolute, tackling effectively and turning over possession to keep the pressure on.

W/D worked hard to stem the attacks, disrupting play and turning over possession. After 10 minutes, the home side was camped on the tr line but the visitors managed to clear their lines. However, ’Shire brought the ball straight back upfield as they hammered away in attack. The backs passed the ball, kicking and probing and each time they were repelled they came back in attack.

Eventually, with 20 minutes played, the home side were rewarded. It was prop Munro McConnell who broke the deadlock by crashing over for a try. The conversion attempt slipped wide.

From the restart, as happens all too often, the visitors gained possession with field position in the ’Shire half. They were awarded a penalty but missed the kick at goal. This period of play saw ’Shire scorer McConnell leaving the field having sustained an injury to his ribs.

The home team, now very aware of Waysiders’ potential, took the game to them once more. They attacked and drove them back into their own half. The visitors defended strongly but were unable to halt the inevitable and ’Shire fullback Jude Iyuki finished a passage of good lineout and maul play. When the ball came out to the backs, they passed it out to put him in for a try in the corner. Callum Austin stepped up to add the conversion.

Waysiders hit back again from the restart and were awarded a penalty which they converted for a 12-3 half-time score.

W/D’s big loose forwards proved a handful for the home defence. With ball in hand they were menacing and it was ’Shire who were under real pressure. A string of infringements by the home side incurred the wrath of whistler Derrick McInally. This resulted in Keith McNeil being harshly penalised at a maul and then sent to the sinbin. The visitors needed no further encouragement and took their opportunity twice while they had this advantage.

The first was a try from open play and good passing and running. The conversion was added. A short time later they came back up the field using similar tactics. The home boys met them in an attempt to halt their progress. These efforts resulted in ’Shire’s Ross McCreadie being injured. Now with two extra men, they crashed over to score under the posts. The conversion was good and for the first time in the game they held the lead.

With McCreadie back on his feet and McNeil returned to the field the home side set about addressing this deficit. Their break came when winger Hamish McGeoch was impeded chasing a clearance kick. The penalty was drilled into the corner for an attacking lineout from which ’Shire gained possession. WD stoutly defended at the maul and the ball was held up over the line. The resulting ’Shire scrum was solid and a pick up and drive by McNeil was stopped short. The ball was recycled by the forwards and came out to McNeil once more. He used his size and strength to force his way forward and then his height stretching for the line to score and tie the game at 17 each. Callum Austin stepped up and added the conversion. The two-point advantage remained intact for the remaining two minutes when Mr McInally brought the game to a close.

W/D proved to be every bit as difficult to beat as their reputation suggested. ’Shire’s first-half performance was much improved on last week. Once more the last pass eluded them to take them clear of their opponents. They were dominant, but failed to capitalise.

’Shire continued to show vulnerability at restarts, something they must eliminate. In the second half a 10-minute period nearly cost them the game. Once more indiscipline proved costly. However, all of these points can be addressed.

On a very positive note, with a number of players still unavailable, those participating are growing in stature and experience. In the near future there are going to be difficult choices to be made regarding selection. Another bright factor to note is that the team on Saturday contained nine 17- and 18-year-olds, a positive trend for the future. On Saturday the local side are on the road again, travelling to Callander, Stirlingshire, to play McLaren FP.

Team: J Iyiku, K Little, A Farquhar (captain), D Maccaig, H McGeoch, C Austin, J Patterson; R Drysdale, G Keith, M McConnell, R Pauley, B Graham, C Reid, R Forsyth, K McNeil. Reps: S Taggart, S Blain, R McCreadie, K Loch, C Hose, S Cameron.

DAVIE HUNTER