Newton Stewart 12, Glasgow Accies 25
With a convincing win over Kilmarnock last week, Accies arrived at Bladnoch Park brimming with confidence.
If any further self-belief was required then a try from their jinky scrum-half Ben Frame only a minute in was the ideal start. Some consolation was had with the conversion striking the post but only moments later Newton’s woes were compounded with the yellow carding of centre David Montgomery for a dubious spear-tackle on Accies prop McLaren.
The visitors’ winger Angus McCallum slotted the resulting penalty for an eight-point advantage in as many minutes and mutterings of “a long day” could be heard.
However, the Reds settled and the match transformed into a even first half with Newton unable to open their account but the visitors also failing to capitalise on forays upfield.
It was 40 minutes of entertaining rugby with the contrasting styles and strengths of both sides.
In the forwards, Newton preferred the direct approach with Ali Gaw at No 8 putting in a big shift.
Accies play a much more expansive game and, with pace and passing skills aplenty, slipping through the Newton defence was their preferred option and, on more than one occasion, with points imminent, only a wayward final pass would prevent their wingers from inflicting further damage.
The second half turned out not to be such a thriller but more of a “catch us if you can”, both on foot and on the scoreboard. As the game restarted Accies showed their intent with some fine running rugby. A solo break from veteran winger Mike Hermes brought good cover tackling from Ty Wilson and Robbie McCornick but from the resulting field position good hands along the back line saw Newton caught short and Accies winger McCallum slip over for a self-converted try.
The Reds were under the cosh and short of ideas for how to escape their own half. But the forwards got involved and, on the 60-minute mark, the “big boys” mauled their way out of their own half and as openside flanker Wallace broke for glory but sa crossing manoeuvre brought their promising attack to a halt.
However, with play in the Accies half Newton enjoyed a spell of pressure and with Accies offering a five-metre scrum the Reds had to go ugly and batter away until eventually Sandy Hamilton grounded and Ritchie converted to keep the game alive at 7-15.
If Newton were to have any chance of victory they needed to resume with pressure but in complete contrast it was Accies who reasserted themselves and only minutes later it was their athletic second-row Kiran Seran who finished off a fine break from hooker Malcolm to effectively dash any Newton hopes of success.
Ten minutes later Accies would put the game firmly out of the Reds’ grasp with a cheap but bonus try from winger Hermes and a 7-25 scoreline.
In true Newton style, the lads never gave up and as the game petered out they played to the last to take another “ugly” try courtesy of Ali Gaw and deservedly put a bit of respectability on the scoreboard.
This was not Newton’s best but far from a poor performance and certainly Glasgow Accies look like the side to beat.
This week sees the Reds travel to Kilmarnock, who have had a poor start with two successive defeats to Glasgow Accies and Lenzie.
Scorers for Newton Stewart – tries: S Hamilton, Alisdair Gaw; conversion: J Ritchie.
Man of The Match : Alisdair Gaw
Newton Stewart: M Wallace, B Haigh, I Matier, R Vance, C Johnstone, W McCornick, J Wallace, A Gaw, R McCornick, J Ritchie, J McWhirter, D Montgomery, G McMillan, J Muir, T Wilson. Reps: R Fiskin, S Hamilton, J Vance, I Russell.