Kilmarnock 22, Newton Stewart 17
Newton Stewart travelled to Kilmarnock on Saturday full of optimism to play a side that have struggled so far this term and lost both their matches.
It was an ideal opportunity for the boys in red to improve on their own 50 percent win ratio.
The game kicked off in sunny conditions but with a brisk wind blowing in favour of the home team for the initial 40 minutes. It was the visitors who took the early initiative with some good attacking phases. This good work was soon thwarted, though, as sloppy discipline from Newton Stewart saw the Kilmarnock standoff, Scott Brown, punt a penalty over the posts from 35 metres.
Further ill discipline after the restart saw Killie head back into Newton Stewart territory where they stole the ball from the visitors’ lineout. This resulted in a well worked try from Kilmarnock captain John Bradford. Brown duly converted the score to extend the home side’s lead to 10-0 and only 15 minutes had been played.
This seemed to spur the visitors into action and Newton Stewart hit back straight away. After a couple of decent phases of forward play Newton found themselves 15 metres from the opposition try line. A mighty drive ensued and the boys heaved over the line for Alisdair Gaw to claim a try.
As the game restarted, Kilmarnock immediately turned the screw and inflicted a decisive blow. Some sound backline ball handling saw Kilmarnock winger Sam Diamond show his opposite number a clean pair of heels and touch down in the corner. From a Newton Stewart point of view it was a shocking score to concede and one that they could not blame anyone for but themselves.
The first half closed with two missed penalties from Newton Stewart and Kilmarnock leading 15-5.
Newton Stewart started the second period with the knowledge they now had the advantage of the gusty wind. And this was put to good use immediately as Gaw seared through the Killie defence to claim his second try. This really tightened the game up as Iain Russell converted and brought the score to 15-12.
Unfortunately, Newton Stewart do not learn from their mistakes and, again, handed the advantage straight back to their opponents. From the restart, Kilmarnock scrum-half Ross Anderson picked the ball up 30 metres from the Newton Stewart line and sailed past four defenders to score in the corner. The conversion from Brown took the score to 22-12.
Newton battled back into the game and managed a final throw of the dice before the referee blew for full-time. Old-timer Gaw was certainly showing his younger charges how to play the game as he caught the ball from a lineout. The Newton pack then drove Gaw over for the try and the final points of the match. It capped another fine performance from Gaw and sealed a glorious hat-trick for a player in the twilight of his career.
This really was another disappointing outcome for Newton Stewart and the large number of visiting supporters. After what was such a promising start to the season against Allan Glen’s two weeks previously, the fortunes of this side seem to have been turned on their head.
Most of this poor fortune has been self-inflicted, with some poor tactical decision-making, lack of a solid game plan, poor concentration and shoddy defence all key elements.
Newton Stewart welcome newly promoted Lenzie to Bladnoch Park this Saturday. A