With some solid pre-season training under new coach Gary McDonald but a lack of pre-season game time and a poor display against local rivals Stewartry, the opening encounter of the BT West Division 1. was a bit of a step into the unknown for the predominantly youthful Newton Stewart side.
Long time adversaries Allan Glens had finished the previous season strongly but two seasons previously Newton opened their campaign with a resounding victory over the boys from Bishopbriggs and last Saturday, in a repeat performance, by half-time the game was done and dusted, with a final score of 50-8.
The first half was totally dominated by Newton Stewart with a fine five-try display of fifteen man rugby.
Veteran kicker Iain Russell was back in action and with a six from seven conversion tally following a penalty after five minutes the ‘old boy’ certainly had a good day.
With an early penalty levelling the score it was immediately from the re-start that Newton No.8 Montgomery carried strongly and with support from Mark McCornick and a couple of recycles it was easy meat for flanker William McCornick to drive over from short range and claim a try for the Newton back-row.
Second- up was another veteran taking the spoils for the second- row. After a James Wallace line-break took him to the whitewash, it was lock Alister Gaw showing that he still has plenty of gas to provide support for the back division and take the final pass for a well executed try.
With only 20 minutes played the Reds looked confident and were executing a game plan of expansive rugby. Reds stand-off Jamie Muir, often criticised for his lack of kicking, could not have been faulted on that front and combined with some penetrating box-kicks from Robbie McCornick the pressure on the Glens defence was relentless. It took until the half-hour mark before the Reds forwards worked through a succession of phases before Muir took over to dodge the stretched defensive line and claim try number three.
Bonus point try four would arrive some five minutes later after Robbie McCornick chased down his own kick deep in the visitors half and as a hurried pass was knocked –on by the full back on his own line – the story of Allan Glens day - Newton took advantage of the five-metre scrum and although the set move ‘Dumfries Ball’ did not complete Sandy Hamilton was on hand to trundled over for his five points.
Try five was perhaps a slight error of judgement from the referee when he was the only person in Bladnoch Park not to see the knock-on after Muir charged down a Glens clearance kick, footballed to the line, pawed the ball over the line for McCornick to ground and take the half-time tally to 36-3 in favour of the home side.
Half-time was none too soon in coming for Allan Glens with a means of disturbing the Reds rythmn and accordingly it did just that.
The second half turned out to be a much more stodgy affair.The visitors certainly enjoyed a bit more possession but the play stagnated in midfield while both sides plucked from the catalogue of errors on a fairly frequent basis.
Prior to the game losing its shine Newton started with an early try from David Montgomery in a text book five-metre line-out to a controlled maul taking the Reds well over the line before grounding.
It was not until the 70 minute mark that Newton composed themselves enough to take a final try, again from a line-out to maul but unable to maul over it took a couple of forwards drives before Jamie Muir collected and ducked over for his second of the day.
This week sees the Reds with another home fixture against Glasgow Accies. Accies also opened with a convincing 60-0 win over Kilmarnock last week and will undoubtedly provide a sterner test for the Newton defence. Bladnoch Park 3pm.
Team: S Hamilton, R Fiskin, M Wallace, A Gaw, M Adams, W McCornick, M McCornick, D Montgomery, R McCornick, J Muir, I Russell, J Wallace, G McMillan, C Johnstone, F Morton; Subs. D Skimming, B Mulder, J McWhirter, S McAllister
Man of the Match – Robbie McCornick ( Scrum-half)