Preparations for the 2017/2018 season are already well underway for Newton Stewart RFC. Having successfully achieved promotion to National League Division 3 at the end of last season, the highest ever standing for the club, anticipation for the year ahead is high.
The club’s first pre-season fixture took place last weekend at the annual Moffat 10’s tournament. The Reds won the title last year and returned this time around keen to retain their status as champions, but fielding a much smaller and younger, less experienced squad.
The first game played was against hosts Moffat RFC. Newton Stewart quickly found their rhythm and were able to exploit the pace of their young runners to score a magnificent ten tries without conceding any points. Five successful conversion kicks brought the final score to an impressive 60-0.
The subsequent match was again local rivals Wigtownshire RFC. Once again the Reds were the dominant team and were able to maintain another clean sheet while scoring five tries with three conversions for a 26-0 win. An unfortunate repeat of Russell Morton’s previous knee dislocation put an end to his appearance in the tournament.
Sailing through their first two matches unbeaten took Newton Stewart straight to the final. Their opponents were Biggar RFC who had looked impressive in their earlier games and promised to be tougher competition for the Reds.
Both teams were evenly match and showed particular defensive prowess to hold the other at bay initially. As the early nerves settled Biggar started running some impressive lines and with some excellent support runners found a chink in the Red’s defensive armour to break through and score a converted try.
Opportunities to counter followed for Newton Stewart towards the end of the first half, but they couldn’t quite take them. The second half proved to be a stalemate, with no-one close to scoring again and the Reds had to settle for the runner-up spot this year.
There were debuts for Newton Stewart in this tournament from David Adams, Mark Craig and Ronan MacDonald. All three boys slotted seamlessly into the line-up and proved themselves more than ready to compete at senior level, which is testament to the great work being done by the coaches in the youth section of the club.
This weekend the Reds will play a training match against Wigtownshire at London Road, Stranraer (Saturday 5th August at 1pm) before travelling to Annan RFC on Saturday 12th August for their 15’s tournament. Once again Newton Stewart will go into the tournament as defending champions – they will need to be on their game to bring home the silverware once more!
The first competitive game of the year will be away to St Boswell’s RFC for the BT Cup on Saturday 26th August before the commencement of the league the following weekend.
Training for the senior team is at Bladnoch Park every Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm, all are welcome.