Last weekend saw Newton Stewart RFC make the 500-mile round trip to Countwells in Aberdeen, the home ground of Gordonians, where they won handsomely 47-22.
Both teams have made strong starts to the season, and with the long journey against them, the Reds knew they would have their work cut out to bring home any points.
Keen not to repeat the disastrous first 20 minutes of their last away match, coach Martin Wallace was focused on ensuring the warm-up got travel-weary legs stretched and minds sharpened.
The formula appeared to work as the Reds got off to a blistering start. Taking possession of their own kick-off they kept control of the play and immediately set about putting their hosts under pressure. With only five minutes on the clock winger Calum Gaw received a pass out on the left wing. With 40 yards to the line he backed his own blistering pace and ran in the opening try of the game. Centre Fraser Morton converted for 0-7.
No sooner had the game restarted than Newton Stewart reclaimed the ball once more and set about consolidating their lead. Slick passing produced a team try with prop Wallace and the majority of the backs getting involved before stand-off Jamie Muir ultimately touched the ball down. Morton added the extras once again.
Confidence was flowing through Red veins now and a third try was added by back row Ewan Dewar with only twelve minutes played to make it 0-21.
Gordonians got a spell of possession and forced some defensive efforts from Newton Stewart.
A line-out for the home team 10 metres from the line resulted in the receiving player and ball being bundled into touch by Wallace and hooker Thomas MacDonald. A line out to the Reds followed immediately and when possession was secured scrum-half Robbie McCornick kicked long to clear the lines.
As Gordonians tried to find a way to break through the Newton Stewart defences a superb counter-attack from the Reds developed and Thomas MacDonald scored an excellent try against the run of play and with it the bonus point. Morton now made it four conversions from four to give a scoreline of 0-28 with only half an hour on the clock.
The last ten minutes of the first half comprised of some more competitive play. Gordonians made some headway in attack, however Red dominance in the scrums limited their progress. The last play of the half ended with Newton Stewart coming frustratingly short of the try line when Gordonians turned over the ball five metres out and kicked to touch for the half-time whistle.
Gordonians started the second half well and positioned themselves on the Reds 22-yard line. When Wallace was pinged by the referee for not rolling away the home team were awarded a penalty and opened their scoring at last, 3-28.
Newton Stewart came on the attack again now. Winger David Adams made a break up the left wing before offloading to back row David Montgomery who sent the ball on to Robbie McCornick to score under the posts. Morton converted once again.
The home team now had an opportunity to demonstrate the fast-paced open play which has stood them in such good stead so far this season. Showing some superb pace their centre burst through the Red defensive line to score a converted try.
Some end to end play followed with Gordonians finding their stride now and putting more pressure on the Red defences. However, the counter attack from Newton Stewart was fast and effective. MacDonald intercepted a pass close to his own line and ran the length of the pitch to score an outstanding opportunistic try, his second of the game.
Gordonians scored next, the scrum providing the platform for it. Passing the ball out through the hands they broke Red lines and scored under the posts for a converted try.
The final score of the game for Newton Stewart came from Montgomery, who deserved the try following some impressive play throughout the game. Wallace threw a pass, missing the middle man, to back row Mark McCornick who was coming onto it at pace. Breaking the line he found Montgomery in support, who ran in under the posts. Morton converted to give himself an impressive kicking record in this game - something the Reds have not been able to boast of in recent years.
The last word of the match, however, went to Gordonians who were awarded a penalty when there was a high tackle from the Reds. Kicking to touch they secured a line out two metres from the try line. Setting up a maul they drove with intent and scored a pushover try to finish the game.
This was a great away win for the Reds and secures their second position in the league table. Impressive performances came from the ever reliable Mark McCornick, his brother Robbie managed the game with skill once again, whilst Calum Gaw gave a good account of himself on the wing.
Man of the Match (chosen by Graham Morton) was David Montgomery who returned to the squad for the first time this season. He was competitive at the breakdown, carried impressively and scored the final try of the game to ensure his performance won’t be forgotten for a while.
This weekend Newton Stewart play Hillhead Jordanhill RFC at home. This is an unknown opposition to the Reds and they must play to their own strengths to try to maintain their solid start to the season. It is hoped the game will be played at Bladnoch Park at 3pm, weather dependent. The club looks forward to welcoming a large crowd once again.
Team: Tyrell Wilson, Liam Brawls, James Wallace (capt), Fraser Morton, Calum Gaw, Jamie Muir, Robbie McCornick, Martin Wallace, Thomas MacDonald, Ronan McDonald, William McCornick, Jason McKie, David Montgomery, Mark McCornick, Ewan Dewar.
Subs: James McMiken, Gavin Freeland, Mark Craig, David Adams.