The annual festive derby match, played for the Spice Cup, took place between Wigtownshire RFC and Newton Stewart RFC last weekend.
A tremendous number turned out to watch the spectacle which saw both sides field two teams for a 1st and 2nd XV.
As the 1st XV match got underway Newton Stewart were quickest out of the blocks and put some early pressure on their hosts. Robert Service broke up the right wing but was contained by some organised Wigtownshire defence. Some big carries came via forwards William McCornick and Gavin Freeland, before Service received the ball in space again and utilised his pace to run in for the opening try to put Newton Stewart 0-5 ahead.
Wigtownshire had a spell of possession where they repeatedly threatened the Reds’ defences. Some big tackles came in from Duncan Skimming and scrum-half Robbie McCornick to stop the lively ‘Shire backs from breaking through the Newton Stewart line.
However, the Reds extended their lead when Reds’ back row Calum Gaw intercepted a pass on the right wing shortly after and broke upfield with Alan Ferrie in support. The ball was passed along the back line until it landed in the hands of acting captain Fraser Morton who galloped over the try line for his first score of the day, 0-10.
Newton Stewart found ‘Shire battling fiercely at the breakdown and it took a tremendous ruck clear out from Connal McDonald to maintain possession, before winger Muir demonstrated some strong running to score the Reds’ third try.
A ‘Shire penalty late in the first half clawed back three points for the home side before Newton Stewart full-back Russell Morton collected a high ball cleanly and went on the attack. He made good ground with Service in support, then sent the ball through the backs once more to find Muir ready to collect his second try of the day. The first half finished with Wigtownshire trailing 3-20.
The second half opened with another try for Fraser Morton, utilising his pace when he saw a gap in the Wigtownshire defences. He converted this one to take the full seven points, before an almost carbon copy of this try followed minutes later from his brother Russell and the lead extended to 3-34.
‘Shire steadied the ship and they asked some difficult questions of Newton Stewart, but the Reds remained stoical in defence. Hooker Thomas MacDonald and second row Connal McDonald both ran some superb incisive lines in this half, looking dangerous with the ball in hand. The latter created a try for stand-off David Gaw, once again converted by F Morton.
Some important tackles came in from brothers William and Robbie McCornick in the late stages and prop Gavin Freeland continued to demonstrate his raw power in the loose. A burst of speed from Freeland sucked in several players in the dying minutes and created an opportunity on the left wing.
The ball popped loose but was gathered instinctively by centre Jack Gaw who threw himself over the line for a final score of 3-48.
Newton Stewart RFC would like to thank Wigtownshire RFC immensely for their superb hospitality and continued friendship and wish them all the best for 2019.