Newton Stewart went down to Kirkcaldy by just a single point in their National league 2 encounter at Bladnoch Park on Saturday.
Just six weeks earlier the Reds were thrashed 61-0 by Kirkcaldy in the cup - but they ran the Fife side a lot closer this time round, going down by the narrowest of margins in a 7-6 defeat.
The early possession was predominantly Kirkcaldy’s as the game got underway, but the Reds’ defence was solid.
The first scrum of the game resulted in a penalty against Newton Stewart, but the Kirkcaldy stand-off couldn’t quite find the target and the score remained 0-0.
A 40-metre break by winger Robert Service set up a long spell of pressure on the Kirkcaldy line, but solid defensive work from the visitors kept Newton Stewart at bay and they had to settle for a penalty slotted home by centre Jack Gaw for a 3–0 lead.
An overthrown lineout gave second row Mark Craig a great opportunity to steal the ball once more and further attacking play by the Reds ended with a high tackle against them and another penalty as a result. Gaw did the honours once more and it was 6–0.
The remainder of the first half saw a lot of fast-paced midfield play. There were repeated handling errors from both sides which stopped either from gathering any significant momentum and the game slipped into half-time.
After the break Service got another chance to tear up the pitch when he collected another long Kirkcaldy kick, but the ball was turned over when he was finally taken down.
A long spell of Kirkcaldy pressure finished with a converted try from one of their sizeable second row players.
Utilising the size of their pack, the forwards worked patiently, making a yard at a time until they were close enough to bulldoze over the Reds line.
Connor Wood emerged with the ball and Finlay Smith converted as the visitors jumped ahead for the first time in the match at 7-6.
There was sustained pressure from the visitors now and Kirkcaldy looked dangerous but a loose pass right on their line fell into centre Fraser Morton’s hands and he kicked long to clear.
The Reds had plenty of opportunities with the ball in hand now, but they weren’t clinical enough with too many handling errors.
As the minutes ticked by the tension on the pitch, and the sidelines, rose. The large Newton Stewart supporting crowd gathered volume as the Reds began one final assault in the dying minutes.
Phase after phase saw them slowly push up the pitch, needing only a penalty to win and as the clock turned red the referee blew his whistle for an infringement and Newton Stewart thought their moment had come.
Frustratingly the penalty was against them and the game finished with Kirkcaldy winning by the narrowest of margins.
Newton Stewart are at home again this Saturday with another tough test against title contenders Peebles.