Newton Stewart RFC played Hillhead Jordanhill RFC last weekend in BT national league division 3, a club with a long and distinguished history. The match took place at Wigtownshire RFC as Bladnoch Park was waterlogged once again.
The weather was nothing short of atrocious and the playing fields at London Road in Stranraer were in standing water during the game - a previously unseen phenomenon. Sat right in the eye of storm Brian, the rain was torrential, but mercifully there was no wind.
Newton Stewart started strongly and immediately put pressure on the Hillhead Jordanhill defences. Just ten minutes into the game second row William McCornick opened the scoring when he forced his way over the line, with captain James Wallace lending his weight in assistance. Centre Fraser Morton converted for a 7-0 lead.
Hillhead Jordanhill countered from the restart and stretched the Newton Stewart defences with well organised mauls close to the try line. The Red wall closed them out however and took control once more.
Regaining possession, the whole team got involved demonstrating some strong running and a fluid off-loading game. It was not long before Newton Stewart were once again in the visitor’s territory and as the clock struck 20 mins the Reds scored their second try courtesy of back row Ewan Dewar. Morton converted once more.
As play continued there were multiple knock-ons from both teams, unsurprising due to the relentless rain. Hillhead Jordanhill were awarded a penalty five minutes later and their stand-off Harte slotted over a fine kick from distance to make the score 14-3.
The game remained pretty even in terms of possession, although Newton Stewart were the more dangerous looking with the ball in hand. The Reds continued with their off-loading game and fancy passes - perhaps too many given the appalling conditions, however they kept the drookit crowd entertained.
As Newton Stewart continued to press forward, a penalty was awarded to the Reds and Morton made it count.
Newton Stewart were in command and William McCornick stood out, running some impressive lines and making territory. With five minutes remaining in the first half he scored his second try. Morton converted once again for a half-time score of 24-3.
There was a very brief respite from the weather during the interval, however as the game got underway once more, so did the rain.
Two minutes into the second half, prop Richard Fiskin was shown a yellow card for kicking the ball out of a ruck. He had been warned by the referee already for his scrummaging technique and his spell in the sin-bin was a rare blight on his long and distinguished career!
There was strong running from the whole team once more. Pushing on towards the Hillhead Jordanhill try line, the forwards applied pressure until after several phases replacement prop Gavin Freeland scored the bonus point try. With Morton having now left the field injured, the ever dependable Jamie Muir (stand-off) stepped up to convert.
Credit where it is due, the visitors did not capitulate, but instead fought back and the next quarter of an hour was played entirely in the Newton Stewart half. Again the Reds’ defence stood firm and denied Hillhead Jordanhill any further points.
There was a short spell where it seemed Newton Stewart had taken their foot off the gas, however in the final ten minutes they reasserted themselves and forayed back into attacking territory once more.
A try followed shortly after when the dynamic William McCornick broke the gain line on the Hillhead Jordanhill 22’ yard line and ran in to complete his hat-trick. Muir maintained the impressive kicking display from Newton Stewart with another conversion for 38-3.
As the final minutes ebbed away there was a farewell gift from second row Jason McKie who scored a sixth try for Newton Stewart in his final game for the club before he heads off to New Zealand for a few months. Muir added the extras to finish the game with a 100% kicking record and a fantastic score line of 45-3.
This was a thoroughly entertaining game given the conditions, and the Reds did not have it all their own way as the score might suggest. Their defensive efforts were once again first class however, and their fast-paced attack with quick offloads was ultimately too much for Hillhead Jordanhill to cope with.
The overall team performance was excellent, however the stand out man was undoubtedly William McCornick. Not only did he score three tries, but he also gave an impressive display of powerful running in attack and ferocious tackling in defence. A well-deserved Man of the Match.
Newton Stewart RFC are indebted once again to Wigtownshire RFC, local rivals and friends, for the use of their pitch at short notice to allow this game to go ahead.
This weekend (Saturday 28th October) will be another home game for the Reds against Ardrossan RFC who have made a good start to the season and currently sit in 5th place in the league. Reputed to have a very powerful pack, the Reds will have their work cut out to maintain their unbeaten home record this season.
The club hopes to play the game at Bladnoch Park, although weather conditions may dictate a venue change once again. Kick-off will be at 3pm.
Team: Tyrell Wilson, Liam Brawls, James Wallace (captain), Fraser Morton, David Adams, Jamie Muir, Robbie McCornick, Richard Fiskin, Thomas MacDonald, Ronan McDonald, William McCornick, Jason McKie, Mark Craig, Mark McCornick, Ewan Dewar.
Subs: Gavin Freeland, James McMiken, Calum Gaw, Allan Ferrie.