RUGBY: ’Shire youths just edged out

Wigtownshire Under-18s were in action for the first time this year on Saturday last. The fixture, a “friendly”, was against a very experienced and much-vaunted side who have finished third in the league above the one the local boys play in. Their ranks contain a number of young men who have been selected for representative honours at various levels in the Scottish game. This was a real test for the Young Shire, who had not been in action as a team since mid-November.

Soon after the kick-off, the ring rustiness showed through, with Kilmarnock notching the first score. A well worked ball from a set piece was passed through the backs to put the winger in on the outside. This appeared to shake the visiting team, realising that it would be long afternoon if they did not pull together quickly. It did the trick and, despite facing a well drilled, tighter pack, the Wigtownshire team came back strongly. They played to their strengths, winning quick ball and getting it out to their speed merchants.

These tactics soon produced a score to level the game. A lofted kick was chased up and, retaining possession, stand-off John Dalrymple crossed the line to put five points on the board for the visitors.

It was Kilmarnock who now realised this was not going to be as easy as they had thought. Both teams vied to gain an advantage before half-time, and Kilmarnock scored again through their forwards to give them a slight lead at the break.

From the restart, neither side appeared to be able to gain an advantage. Both teams used their bench to ring the changes. However, the status quo remained. An injury to a home team prop resulted in uncontested scrums, which appeared to favour the visitors. They capitalised on this situation. Solid possession from the scrum gave the Shire backs the ball they needed to show off both their handling and running skills. Stewart Cameron scored a fine winger’s try in the corner. With the score level, and for the fourth time in the game the conversion attempt going wide, the scene was set for a final push to see who would come out on top. Unfortunately for the visitors, it was not to be their day. A short time later, when they conceded a penalty and were being admonished by the referee, the home side capitalised. They took the tap quickly and crashed over for a score. The referee allowed this to stand and the home side added the extra points. Despite the visitors’ best efforts, they were unable to come back into the game. Just before the final whistle Kilmarnock scored another unconverted try to take the score to 22-10. Some would say a score which appeared to flatter the home side.

The local boys gave a good account of themselves on the day. They stepped up to the mark against a more experienced side that has played together for a number of years. This was a useful game to assess the team in respect of their standing in the West Region. It identified strengths and weaknesses which can be worked on in the coming weeks as they prepare for the rest of the season.

Wigtownshire: K Little, N Garratt, H McGeoch, R Forsyth, S Cameron, J Dalrymple, A McMaster, A Murray, S Hannah, C Skimming, C Hose, F McColm, C Reid, R Dewar, G Shaw. Replacements; D Kelly, J Iyiku, G Henry