Newton Stewart RFC 29
Irvine RFC 7
BT West Division 1
Irvine RFC visited Bladnoch Park last weekend in the latest league fixture for Newton Stewart RFC.
Irvine were demoted into BT West Division 1 this year, and have failed to make much headway so far this season. With some affluent sponsors behind them in the last few weeks, Irvine have become Ayrshire’s answer to Real Madrid, paying big name coaches and players to join their ranks, including Fijian ex-international Nicky Little.
With this knowledge, Newton Stewart came out fired up and ready for a big performance, keen to take an international scalp! Within the first five minutes, the Reds made their intentions known. Back row Jason McKie burst through the Irvine defensive line and offloaded in the tackle to Mark McCornick who handed off two would-be tacklers before sprinting down the wing and beating the Irvine covering full-back to the corner for a spectacular opening try. The following conversion kick for stand-off Jamie Muir was a difficult one and didn’t quite find its target.
Newton Stewart continued their spirited, attacking style of play and gave themselves many opportunities as a result.
After 25 minutes scrum-half Robbie McCornick produced a great little chip through the Irvine line before chasing the ball down to pressurise the opposition. Diving on the ball as the defender tried to clear it, the ball was spilled free and landed in front of Craig Murray, on from the bench, who had followed McCornick in support. An unfortunate knock-on ended the move which had looked like an almost certain try had the ball gone to hand at the last.
The Reds didn’t have long to wait however before the next try opportunity appeared. Continuing to force Irvine back in their own half, Newton Stewart were awarded a penalty well within kicking distance. The unexpected decision to take a quick tap and go penalty by captain James Wallace seemed to take many of his own team off guard as well as his opponents, but luckily Jason McKie was prepared and followed Wallace on the attack, with a pick and go from close range securing the try. The conversion went off target again, 10-0.
The final score of this half came off the back of a Newton Stewart scrum within the Irvine half. The pack have looked vulnerable in the scrum over the last few weeks, however it was a solid force in this game. Having secured the ball and fed it back to James Wallace, the number 8 burst off the back, his signature move, and made some important yards for the Reds. Prop William McCornick collected the ball in the ruck and powered his way across the line to finish an excellent forty minutes of rugby with a try which was converted by Muir.
The second half started as the first had ended, with Newton Stewart in control. A kickable penalty was missed for the Reds, however a highly effective driving maul from the line-out gave second row Duncan Skimming his chance to add his name to the score sheet. 22-0.
A quarter of an hour into the second half the Reds produced another scoring opportunity. Brothers Fraser and Russell Morton, playing centre and winger respectively, galloped up with right wing together, Fraser with the ball in hand. As the Irvine covering defence came in Fraser found he had the ball in the wrong hand to make the pass to his younger sibling and was bundled into touch along with the ball.
This burst of pace seemed to really energise the whole Newton Stewart team who suddenly upped their game even further, producing some superb rugby for the large crowd of spectators to enjoy. With really clinical play the Reds combined good, clean ball with some huge ball carries and slick passing. The end result was a well worked try under the posts for Jamie Muir. Converting his own try, the score extended to 29-0 with just over ten minutes to play.
The only moment of weak play in a sterling Newton Stewart performance came minutes later when one of the Irvine centres collected the ball well within his own half and ran through and round several Red shirts to score a disappointingly soft individual try and spoil an otherwise clean scoresheet. The scrum-half converted an easy kick.
Irvine were certainly buoyed a little by their score, and perhaps sensed that running at their opposition a little more might be a worthwhile tactic. Only minutes later William McCornick put in a devastating tackle on the halfway line to avoid a repeat of the runaway try.
The play continued to predominate in the Irvine half and although the visitors had some possession, they were thwarted at every turn by some resolute Red defence to see out the game 29-7.
The anticipation of the big name players within the Irvine team appeared to have put some fire in the Newton Stewart bellies, and drew out some excellent performances.
Centre Fraser Morton made some great breaks, using his pace to good effect. All three McCornick brothers deserve recognition for their efforts, however it was eldest brother William who was Man of the Match. His ball carrying, scrummaging and tackling were all impressive, and with a try to boot his was a memorable performance.
Perhaps the most important thing to note, for both sides, was the team spirit and camaraderie which Newton Stewart played with. Hands down the combined effort was the best performance of all. Money can’t buy you everything.
Next weekend Newton Stewart RFC travel to old rivals Allan Glens RFC in Bishopbriggs. Kick-off is at 2pm.