Wigtownshire RFC claim a win in snowy conditions

BT West Regional League Division 3

Saturday January 9 2016

Moffat RFC 1st XV 12 – Wigtownshire RFC 1st XV 29

Wigtownshire made one of their longer journeys of the season to a derby match.

Their Division 3, Dumfries and Galloway based, rivals Moffat were promoted as champions of Division 4 last season. They have not fared too well since coming up with only two wins from eight games, however they have had tight games keeping three of their loses to within seven points and getting a draw against league contenders Uddingston at home.

The other factor to be contended with were the conditions, heavy snow and frost in Moffat the previous day left the “Shire” boys wondering what the journey was going to be like and what they would face when they got there.

When Wigtownshire took to the field it was pouring with rain and very cold, the ground was covered in snow and very muddy under that. Moffat kept them waiting on the pitch in the rain a full 10 minutes before they came out for the kick off. From the kick-off Moffat fielded the ball but just could not get out of their own half. The visitors kept them pinned back and their big runners just could not cross the gain line.

The hard hits and constant pressure forced them backwards into their twenty two and then to knock on. This gave “Shire” scrum, and possession. Now they could show what they could do, strong running from ruck ball and quick ball away from the tackle area forced Moffat back onto their own line.

It was Jason McKie, always difficult to stop at that range, who forced his way over the line for the first score with ten minutes played. The conversion attempt came back unluckily off the post.

From the restart Moffat regrouped and tried to work their way into the Wigtownshire half. Every time they seemed to be getting there, “Shire” forced a turnover. Stand-off Campbell Reid kicked the ball over the top to where ever their fullback wasn’t.

Quick ball was taken on by David Watson, who broke from the back of the line. The ball was given to the centres, whose switch pass brought the ball back to the forwards. This gave a platform for a drive up the middle of the park. Moffat had no answer as Jordan Little went over the line to score. Kieran Little added the conversion.

Despite the awful conditions the “Shire” backs were playing with confidence. Winger Jason Gallacher was everywhere looking for the ball and making the hard yards, Ben McColm and John McIntosh in the centre were combining to create space and keeping play on the front foot.

But as often happens, over enthusiasm at the rucks incurred the displeasure of the referee and a string of penalties led to a warning and kept Moffat in the game.

The situation was made worse when replacement Gregor Henry was adjudged to have tackled high and was given ten minutes in the sin bin to contemplate the error of his ways. Moffat kicked to touch and for the first time in the game breached the “Shire” twenty two.

The visitors dominant line out took the ball against the throw, only to loss it on the ground. Encouraged by their good fortune the home side got some momentum going and after a series of rucks they worked their way in to score a try and added the conversion.

From the restart Wigtownshire managed to regain their composure and held the score line to 7 point to 12 until half time.

Moffat started the second half in determined fashion helped by a Wigtownshire offside infringements. They worked their way right up to the “Shire” try line.

They just could not get in for the score, even with penalties awarded against them the “Shire” defence held. Restored to full strength, it took the visitors a full ten minutes to break into the Moffat half. By this time the snow covered pitch was becoming a muddy quagmire, even worse than the surface they played on last weekend.

On the front foot for the first time the Wigtownshire backs and forwards combined to complete the rest of the journey to the Moffat try line. A ruck wide on the right pulled in the defence and when the ball was released across the park it was Gregor Henry who went under the posts for the score. Kieran Little added the conversion. This was shortly added to when Captain John McIntosh was on hand to finish off a well-executed backs move to score under the posts.

Replacement kicker McKie failed to convert. With “Shire” making full use of their bench, they were on top in all areas, but as they say pride comes before a fall. Against the run of play, a charge down of an attempted clearance kick at the back of a scrum gave Moffat possession in space. They did not need to be asked twice and crossed the line to score a try which was unconverted.

This lifted the home side, who with eight minutes to play felt they might have a chance. The visitors had to work hard to get the ball back. A penalty gave them lineout outside the twenty two.

The “Shire” forwards won the ball cleanly and Jason McKie broke round the front to race down the wing. As the cover came across to hunt him down, he put in a grubber kick. Gregor Henry was on hand to go over in the corner and touch the ball down for a try. The conversion attempt went wide of the mark. The score when the final whistle blew standing at Moffat 12 Wigtownshire 29.

This was a great result for the “Shire”. Games away from home have been difficult due to player availability issues. To get a bonus point win is a great achievement. A pleasing feature was the “Shire” coped with the conditions. The team are back at London Road this Saturday, when they face Bishopton, who are just above them in the league. There is no doubt this will be a fiercely contested game as “Shire” look to redress the result against them away from home earlier in the season.

Team: K Little, S Cameron, J McIntosh (Capt), B McColm, J Gallacher, Campbell Reid, C Lammie; D Watson, G Keith, C Dickson, R Dewar, G Dunlop, J Little, J McKie, A Paxton.

Replacements: R McCreadie, M McConnell, C McGregor, G Henry, A McMaster, J Hunter, J McLellan