McLaren 5, Stewartry 12
Stewartry kicked off in what was the wettest and coldest day of the season so far.
Penalties were to be the feature of the day and from early on Swalwell made good progress from a penalty lineout, backed up by McMorran.
In six minutes, a kick at the posts was missed by Stewartry but a charging run by Cannon took Stewartry deep into McLaren’s half. It was a good start for the Blacks in the wet conditions.
The slippery ball was very hard to keep a hold of but Stewartry props McMorran and Cannon seemed to manage and both made good progress into the Mclaren 22. Possession passed back and forth between both teams as it was knocked-on and dropped as the rain got heavier.
McLaren may be second bottom of the league but they were keen to add to Stewartry’s woeful away form that has seen them beaten in four of eight matches.
The home team were putting pressure on the Blacks’ defence with some high kicks but Fingland tidied them up well and soon gave Mosey and McCulloch the chance to make ground back into the home half.
On 15 minutes, another high kick was fielded by fullback Muir who broke through a number of tackles before losing possession just over the halfway line.
The slippy conditions were making the scrums a bit of a lottery but it was McLaren who gained the first big advantage on 20 minutes, taking one against the head. Stewartry replied with the very next scrum, taking one back against the head, McCulloch breaking with Swalwell, and Cannon knocking holes in the home defence.
The Blacks lost another scrum as the home side could sense they might cause another upset for the Blacks. Mosey took a high kick ahead and returned it with interest, followed by Muir, who put some footballing skills to take the Blacks back into the McLaren 22.
On the half-hour, Ian Fenwick and McCulloch broke from the scrum, making 30 metres before being stopped. McLaren, who had had more than their share of the ball, upped their game as half-time approached and, from halfway, put in a series of attacks, being stopped just short of the posts before scoring out wide on the right. The conversion was missed.
A quickly taken short penalty by Muir saw the first half finish with Stewartry back in the home 22.
From the kick-off Stewartry won the advantage but then lost the opening scrum. The Stewartry back row had played well through out they were soon back on the attack with Fenwick, Swalwell and McCulloch to the fore.
Mosey added more pressure with a long-ranging kick into the 22 giving the forwards the chance to pressure the McLaren line. Scrum-half Farquhar was first to react to a loose ball, driving over at the posts. Cammy Fenwick added the conversion to put Stewartry 7-5 ahead.
A number of injuries disrupted the home team’s scrum, to the Blacks’ advantage, but cold hands in the backs caused many knock-ons by both teams. Numerous penalties were also handed out by the referee to both teams as the game became a bit of a lottery before some sustained pressure in the McLaren half allowed Swalwell the chance to put hooker Burton in for only his second try of the season. The conversion was missed.
The last 10 minutes saw both teams battle on for a further score but Stewartry just held on with both sides glad to hear the welcome sound of the final whistle and head off to the best warm showers enjoyed this season.
This result leaves Stewartry four points behind unbeaten league leaders Annan who are the visitors to Greenlaw this Saturday in the match of the day as Stewartry strive to be the first team to beat the leaders. Kick-off is at 3pm, with pre-match hospitality fully booked.
Stewartry’s 2nd xv play Strathendrick 2nd xv and Stewartry Colts play Annan Colts. Kick-off times are still to be confirmed.
Stewartry: J Muir, A Kerr, C Fenwick, D Boyd, J Fingland, C Mosey, J Farquhar, I McMorran, D Burton, T Cannon, R Porteous, J Jamieson, P Swalwell, S McCulloch, I Fenwick (captain), S Broll, D Gregory.