Murrayfield Wanderers 13-20 Newton Stewart: Reds get title bid back on track

Newton Stewart rugby Team Photo:  Back row (l-r)  Gavin Freeland, Russell Morton, David Gaw, Jamie Muir, Ronan McDonald, Liam Brawls, James McMiken, Mark Craig, Duncan Skimming, Alan Ferrie, Martin Wallace (coach)  Front row (l-r)  Robert Service, Jack Gaw, Thomas MacDonald, Fraser Morton, Mark McCornick (capt), David Adams, Ross Campbell, Calum Gaw, Robbie McCornick.
Newton Stewart rugby Team Photo: Back row (l-r) Gavin Freeland, Russell Morton, David Gaw, Jamie Muir, Ronan McDonald, Liam Brawls, James McMiken, Mark Craig, Duncan Skimming, Alan Ferrie, Martin Wallace (coach) Front row (l-r) Robert Service, Jack Gaw, Thomas MacDonald, Fraser Morton, Mark McCornick (capt), David Adams, Ross Campbell, Calum Gaw, Robbie McCornick.

Newton Stewart bounced back from their defeat to leaders Gordonians to record a 20-13 victory over Murrayfield Wanderers in National League Division 3 last week.

With Gordonians losing to West of Scotland second-placed Newton Stewart have closed the gap to five points having played a game more.

The first 15 minutes was cagey from both sides in difficult conditions. Murrayfield missed an early penalty but they weren’t to be denied as a neat chip and chase down the wing gave them opening try. The conversion kick was missed for a 5-0 lead.

Only five minutes later however Newton Stewart countered. Hooker Thomas MacDonald showed strong finishing skills to touch down in the corner. Centre Fraser Morton converted impressively from the touchline to put the Reds 5-7 up.

Murrayfield Wanderers got their noses in front once more with another unconverted try. The half-time whistle blew with Newton Stewart trailing 13-7.

The Red narrowed the gap to 13-10 with a penalty after the break before Fraser Morton spotted a loose pass and intercepted just ten metres from his own line, running the length of the pitch for a superb opportunistic try. He secured the conversion too to put the Reds ahead once more.

The Wanderers sensed weakness now and tried to capitalise. With only fourteen men to cover their line Newton Stewart were under serious pressure. The defensive display which followed was exceptional however: despite a solid ten minutes backed against the posts, the Red held out and cleared their lines.

Getting back into their opposition half, the Reds were awarded a penalty within kicking distance. Taking the opportunity to extend their lead, Morton kicked for goal to extend the lead to 13-20. The final whistle blew minutes later to some signs of relief from the Newton Stewart camp.

This close encounter was a great game to watch, with both teams giving a superb defensive display. With an average age of just 20, Newton Stewart’s young team performed well in tricky conditions, with a cool-headed maturity under pressure to be proud of.