Wigtownshire 3, Cumnock 26
Wigtownshire returned to league action again on Saturday at London Road against their nearest neighbours in Division 3.
Cumnock are also their closest rivals in the promotion stakes, with the outcome of the match going a long way to deciding their eventual table positions.
Cumnock kicked off but the cold conditions made handling difficult. The problems impacted on both teams at the start, the referee allowing advantage to be played, giving both sides a chance to get into the game.
Cumnock, however, had field position and kept the pressure on the home side but a great defensive effort kept the determined visitors at bay.
’Shire could not break out and after 10 minutes were adjudged to have handled the ball on the ground. Cumnock converted the penalty to take the lead.
From the restart they brought the ball back into the ’Shire half. They were using the maul to suck in the home defence, and then shipping the ball wide. Only determined tackling, exemplified by Corrie Hose and Jason McKie, was keeping them out.
It was only a matter of time before the visitors scored again. Their chance came with a penalty for going into a ruck from the side. The Cumnock outside centre slotted the ball between the uprights to add three points to their lead.
With 20 minutes on the clock, ’Shire managed to get some ball and were able to show what they could do, with captain Andy Farquhar making a break up the wing. Cumnock showed their defensive capabilities, recovering possession and allowing their fullback to show his running skills. Only good ’Shire tackling halted his progress.
The ’Shire set piece was getting into the game both at scrum and lineout and at the breakdown they were still incurring the displeasure of referee Fred McEvilly, and the rising penalty count was costing them.
’Shire were awarded a penalty five minutes from the break but with the wind against young Austin the ball drifted wide.
From the restart Cumnock brought the ball back into the ’Shire half with a combination of good running and passing. When they were halted a penalty was awarded against ’Shire. The Cumnock kicker had no difficulties making the kick.
Despite this ’Shire were playing with determination. The last pass would not stick and time and time again attacks came to nothing.
It seemed things were turning. A Cumnock clearance was fielded by John McIntosh, who charged up the park, linking with his forwards. It was now Cumnock who gave away a penalty and Austin stepped up to break the home side’s duck.
Cumnock fought hard from the restart to break back into the game. The home defence earned the displeasure of Mr McEvilly, who indicated a punch had been thrown and gave a penalty. The Cumnock kicker converted the chance.
’Shire returned to the offensive and were soon deep in Cumnock territory, with Farquhar leading. Both sides decided to make full use of their replacements. The game became bogged down in the middle but this deadlock was broken when ’Shire were reduced to 14 men with 10 minutes to play.
Referee McEvilly awarded a penalty, adjudging Ross McCreadie to have gone off his feet. He also decided to take action on repeated offending by by use of a yellow card.
The impact could not have been more profound. Cumnock used the maul to make ground. Two minutes later they broke the Ross McCreadie try line for the first time. The conversion was added.
It took Cumnock five minutes to work their way back into the home 22. A lineout gave them the perfect platform to drive again and the numerical advantage paid to score another try. The conversion was successfully made and the final whistle blown.
This was a disappointing result. ’Shire pride themselves on winning at home. There was little between the sides and the impact of the yellow card made a huge difference. The major issue was the penalty count against ’Shire, which has been an issue all season. The players felt it was a game they should have won. They now have two weeks to find that “something” before their next game on November 30 away to Lanark.
Team: C Hose, A Farquhar (captain), J McIntosh, D Maccaig, J Dalrymple, C Austin, J Hunter; M Hastie, J McKie, M McConnell, B Graham, C McGregor, G Dunlop, C Stephens, K McNeil. Reps: D Watson, S Blain, G Keith, H McGeoch, S Cameron, R McCreadie.