’Shire pay penalty for indiscipline

Cumnock 16, Wigtownshire 10

Wigtownshire travelled to meet old rivals Cumnock on Saturday in their first away game this season.

Cumnock were promoted last season as champions of RBS West Division 4 and were hopeful of continuing their upward progress. Their stated intention was to take at least a four-try win.

Wigtownshire also seen as promotion possibilities, despite relegation last season and were looking to break their on the road voodoo. But it was likely to be a big ask due to their current injury list, and with student players returning to college. It was, however, heartening to note that the ’Shire bench consisted of four replacements, something that would have been a blessing last season.

The home team made the better start and stole an early lineout ball and surged for the line. ’Shire were under real pressure and with two minutes on the clock the visitors were adjudged to have halted play illegally and Cumnock were awarded a penalty, which they kicked.

This seemed to wake the visitors up. A solid scrum gave ’Shire a good attacking platform and it was Cumnock who fell foul of the laws. Callum Austin made an attempt at a 35-metre kick which drifted wide.

The penalty count for both sides continued to grow and Austin levelled the score.

Wigtownshire failed to heed the ref’s warnings and continual offending by going off their feet put them precariously close to a yellow card. Cumnock did not need asked twice and very strong running with close support made them very dangerous in attack. The visitors’ saving grace was the way they held attackers up in contact.

With the ball going nowhere and the ’Shire pack halting the maul, the ball was turned over time and again. But as half-time approached, Cumnock had another kick at goal and went in at the break leading 6-3.

’Shire restarted and drove towards the Cumnock line. They earned a scrum in front of the posts, but the slippery ball was knocked on turning over possession. The home side brought the ball up the park and a scrum inside their own half resulted in their No 8 picking up and sprinting to the blind side. He rounded the ’Shire defence and set off. His advance was halted on the 22 but the covering efforts had left ’Shire exposed on the left and one of the Cumnock backs evaded the scrabbling defenders to score under the posts. The conversion was added.

’Shire coach Ross McCreadie went to his replacements, Connor Stephens coming on an immediately making an impact. The maul defence also produced good possession for the visitors. However the penalty count continued to rise and eventually Mr Logan reached for his pocket. It was replacement Stephens who received the team punishment for going off his feet.

Cumnock stepped up a gear and threw everything into attack. The defence held, but only just. Eventually a penalty came in kickable range and the lead extended.

With 10 minutes to go McCreadie decided use his last replacement: himself. The visitors lifted their game and it was Cumnock who began to feel the pressure. A kick and chase produced good field position but the visitors could not quite make it to the line.

A fine kick to the corner gave ’Shire a five-metre lineout as the game came to a close. A clean take and drive was hauled down and Cumnock received a yellow card. ’Shire took the tap penalty and once more foul play halted their progress. Another yellow card and Cumnock were down to 13. A tap penalty, this time with Campbell McGregor in possession, saw them force their way over to score. Austin added the conversion and Mr Logan brought proceedings to a close.

This was both a pleasing and disappointing display by ’Shire. Indiscipline cost them dearly throughout the game and first tackles were poor. The pleasing aspect was the determination. The team never gave up and were rewarded with a try at the end and a valuable bonus point.

Wigtownshire are in action this Saturday at home to Lanark, kick off 3pm.

Team: C Hose, A Farquhar (captain), L Smith, D MacCaig, J McIntosh, J Dalrymple, C Austin; S Blain, G Keith, M McConnell, G Dunlop, B Graham, C Hamilton, R Pauley, K McNeil. Replacements: C McGregor, R McCreadie, C Stephens, H McGeoch