Newton Stewart RFC hosted East Kilbride RFC last weekend for their final match of the season in what has been a highly successful year for the Reds.
With the title already wrapped up, the pressure was off for Newton Stewart but a large crowd of supporters turned out to cheer on their team in the hope of seeing a final victory for the season.
Some heavy rain through the week had saturated the ground at Bladnoch Park so at the last moment the game was moved to the 3G pitch at Blairmount Park in Newton Stewart. With a firm surface beneath their feet, the Reds were able to showcase some of the quick off-loading play which they have made their own this season.
The first half proved a very close affair with great competition at the breakdown; both teams turning over the ball on a number of occasions. There was disruption in the line-out from both sides too - some forced by good defence from the opposition, others offered by some aberrant throwing in!
There was no score in the first half until five minutes from the break when stand-off Jamie Muir was able to cross the line in the corner for a try for the Reds. He attempted his own difficult conversion kick from out wide, but couldn’t quite find the angle.
With the start of the second half came some better play from Newton Stewart. Gone were the errors of the first forty minutes and the crowd were treated to some exciting and fast-paced play from the Reds.
Ten minutes into the half Newton Stewart were in the ascendency with some consistent pressure on the East Kilbride line. Some confident ball handling and quick offloads eventually produced a try for Newton Stewart back row Jason McKie who showed some impressive strength in the final push across the line.
The visitors started to feel the tide turning against them and came on the attack, desperate to keep themselves in the game. With patient recycling of the ball, utilising the pick and go, East Kilbride eventually pushed themselves forward to within striking distance of the line, and snuck around the side of a ruck to secure a try of their own to narrow the gap to 5-10.
The Reds were playing with confidence now though and it wasn’t long until they came back in attack once more. Collecting the ball from a line out within the East Kilbride half, the forward pack looked to create a rolling maul. When the opposition didn’t defend it though the maul had to disperse and back row David Montgomery burst forward with the ball in hand and crashed over the line for an unexpected try. Muir was able to convert this one to extend the lead to 5-17.
It wasn’t long before Montgomery was back on the scoreboard: taking a well-timed pass from McKie the big flanker easily burst through the tackle of the East Kilbride scrum half to cross the line for a second try.
And as the game, and the season, drew to a close Newton Stewart found time for one last try from consistent performer Euan Dewar in the back row. Hitting a superb line up the middle of the park, Dewar collected the ball and took several opposition defenders with him in his bulldozing run over the try line. No conversion came again, but the score was conclusive at 27-5.
The second half display from Newton Stewart was impressive and in keeping with many of their performances this season. Some players of note from the game included captain James Wallace who played out of position all game at inside centre, but impressed in his role with some powerful running and solid defensive work. Second row William McCornick was ferocious in his tackling once again. But Man of the Match was younger brother Robbie McCornick who managed the game well from scrum-half. The 3G pitch gave the opportunity for fast-paced play and McCornick’s delivery of the ball was exceptional and allowed the Reds the opportunity to mount their attacks.
After the game the players and supporters returned to Bladnoch Park to celebrate the league wins of both the 1st XV and the U18 team this year. Both were presented with their trophies by the SRU, and in addition Newton Stewart RFC sponsors 3b Construction Ltd officially handed over the mini-bus which they have so generously donated to the club. The bus is primarily for the use of the junior teams to assist with transportation to matches, but will also be used by the 1st XV too. It has already been well used this season and is a much appreciated asset to the club. Newton Stewart RFC would like to extend their grateful thanks to 3b Construction Ltd for this most generous donation.
Having concluded their action for this season Newton Stewart RFC will have a well-deserved break until pre-season training will recommence in the summer. As champions of BT West Division 1 this season they will progress up to BT National 3 next year. There is no doubt that this will prove a big step up for the team, but with the talent, commitment and impeccable conduct shown by the players this season there is no question they will represent the club well at the next level and will have every chance of success as they do so.
Team: Tyrell Wilson, Graeme McMillan, Fraser Morton, James Wallace (capt), Liam Brawls, Jamie Muir, Robbie McCornick, Martin Wallace, Thomas MacDonald, Richard Fiskin, William McCornick, Duncan Skimming, Euan Dewar, Jason McKie, David Montgomery. Subs: Ian Matier, Alisdair Gaw, Craig Murray, Malachi Wright.