Newton Stewart RFC continued their pre-season preparations last weekend by winning the annual Annan 15s tournament.
Winning this tournament for the second year running will give the Reds a good psychological boost ahead of their first competitive match of the season, a cup fixture away to St Boswell’s RFC on Saturday 26th August.
The group stages of the competition comprised two matches for Newton Stewart: the first against local rivals Stewartry RFC. Centre Fraser Morton put six of his eight conversion kicks on target, with some impressive efforts from out wide to make the final score 52-0.
The second match in the group stages was against Cumbrian team Wigton RFC who were new competitors in this tournament and an unknown entity to the Reds. They proved to be a very large and physical team and made Newton Stewart work hard for the 13-8 win which sent Newton Stewart through to the final.
The winner of the other group was Hawick Harlequins and so they were the Reds’ competitors for the trophy. It was clear within the first few minutes of the game that Hawick were a well-organised outfit and would provide a close contest.
Mark McCornick touched the ball down once more for an opportunistic try which Morton converted to seal a 7-0 lead. The first half finished 7-3.
Both teams had to prove their defensive abilities, and Newton Stewart in particular showed once again how solid the Red wall is, repeatedly refusing to give in to the Hawick charge even metres from their own line. The second half was ultimately a stalemate - neither team scored and Newton Stewart came away victors of the tournament.
There were some great performances from the Reds in this tournament: Fraser Morton kicked with composure and accuracy and young Ronan McDonald put in a solid performance in the front row, while William McCornick and Jason McKie tackled mercilessly as ever.
All the younger team members moving up from U18 level (Mark Craig, David Adams, David Gaw, Callum Gaw and Ronan McDonald) showed they were ready for the task. Man of the Tournament had to go to Mark McCornick though for his incessant competitiveness at the breakdown, powerful running and five tries to boot.