Newton Stewart travelled the length of the country and back last weekend, a 720-mile round trip to Thurso to face Caithness RFC.
The Reds’ first real opportunity for attack came when stand-off David Gaw chipped the ball over for centre (and captain) Fraser Morton to run onto. He collected it neatly before running on through to score the opening try of the match, converting it also.
Caithness responded and doggedly made their way towards the Newton Stewart try line. With a scrum given in the danger area the Reds were under real pressure. The Caithness pack tightened the screw causing the Newton Stewart scrum to collapse and the referee to blow for a penalty try to level the scores at 7-7.
They weren’t level for long though as Fraser Morton found space out wide once again to run in his second converted try, 7-14. Newton Stewart had their tails up now. When back row Alan Ferrie turned the ball over deep in his own half, the team collectively pushed forward. Ferrie carried well before scrum half Robbie McCornick chipped the ball over. Caithness gathered, but were quickly turned over once again and David Gaw threw a great long pass to ultimately find speed merchant Robert Service on the wing. He burned up the pitch for Newton Stewart’s third try under the posts. Fraser Morton converted once again, and the score sat at 7-21 as they went into half-time.
With the wind against them going into the second half the Reds knew they had their work cut out to maintain their lead. Caithness used the wind to gain territory now, with their stand-off making the most of his big boot. Newton Stewart’s defensive was resolute for a long spell, but eventually relented as an opposition prop crashed over from short range to narrow the gap to 14-21.
Most of the game thereafter was played within Newton Stewart’s half, with the Reds stoically defending their line.
With only three minutes left on the clock another strong Caithness scrum on the 5-metre line resulted in a second penalty try being awarded to level the scores. The final whistle blew for a draw, a rare result in rugby, and some mixed emotions came with it.
Newton Stewart host Peebles in the second round of the National League Cup. The club looks forward to welcoming the local support along to Bladnoch Park for a 12.30pm kick-off on Saturday.