Reds snatch victory in opening game

Allan Glens RFC 15 - 17 Newton Stewart RFC

The first league game of the season for Newton Stewart RFC finally arrived last weekend with a much anticipated battle against their old rivals Allan Glens RFC. The team which travelled to the well-named ‘Bearyards’ stadium in Bishopbriggs were a little short in number, but certainly not in ambition.

Allan Glens kicked off the game playing into the wind. The early exchanges were mostly in the home team’s favour, particularly as they dominated in the set piece, but Newton Stewart demonstrated from the start that their defence was well organised and disciplined and kept the door to the try line tightly locked.

The Reds eventually gained possession of the ball and, as soon as they had done so, they made their intentions clear. Mark McCornick took the ball and ran an excellent line before passing to centre David Montgomery who burst through the game-line in impressive fashion. McCornick, diligent as always, had followed up in support and received the off load at the perfect moment to score the first try of the game, 17 minutes in. Jamie Muir at stand off was in charge of the kicking duties as usual, and made light work of his first effort to take Newton Stewart to a 0-7 lead.

As the first half continued Allan Glens remained dangerous, stealing the ball several times both in the scrum and in the air, as the Reds line-out malfunctioned. After 25 mins a safely captured ball was carefully stowed at the back of a rolling maul. Newton Stewart stoically defended the maul initially, but once the not inconsiderable weight of the front row got in behind it, the maul trundled over for prop Darren Eadie to score a try. Red’s hooker Richard Fiskin found his ankle had taken a battering in the process and he was forced to retire from the game. The conversion attempt was not to be for Allan Glens’ captain, centre Scott Thomson and the score was 5-7.

As half-time approached Allan Glens took charge of the ball again they were soon awarded a penalty for an offside offence by Newton Stewart. Thomson had his work cut out this time with a long range kick, but he struck the ball well and took his side into the break 8-7 to the good.

As the second half got underway, NSRFC came out on the attack. They had much more possession and were running good lines at pace, clearly unsettling their opposition, but a few unfortunate handling errors stopped the scoreboard from reflecting their endeavour. Their defence remained resolute when challenged by their counterparts and they never really looked in danger of giving points away.

Eventually the Reds efforts were rewarded when returning player David Sommerville, slotted in at centre, finished a good spell of possession by hurling himself over the line. The opposition threw everything at Sommerville in defence and as shouts went up that the ball had been held up, the referee blew his whistle to award the try. The Allan Glens supporters were vociferous in their disagreement with the referee, strongly advising he should visit a well-known opticians! There was no doubt however that Muir was kicking well, and the conversion duly followed to bring the score to 8-14 with 6 minutes to play.

Newton Stewart vowed to keep their defence strong in the dying minutes and hold tight to their lead, however almost immediately their fortitude was tested. Allan Glens, keen to retaliate and feeling hard done by, put their money where their mouth was and came on the attack. Winger Sean Kirk slipped through the Newton Stewart line far too easily, scoring within two minutes, and Thomson converting this time to once again edge out in front at 15-14 with now only four minutes left on the clock.

The Reds were frustrated at having given away a score, and possibly the game, but they handled the pressure well and went back on the attack. The watching crowd were vocal as Newton Stewart continued to make the home team defend. Eventually the mounting tension got too much for one Allan Glens player who refused to roll away from the tackle and a penalty was awarded to NSRFC. The referee confirmed that this would be the final kick of the game and the pressure was on. Jamie Muir once again lined up his kick. Taking his time and displayed the coolest of heads, he struck the ball beautifully and it soared through posts to secure an opening win for Newton Stewart.

Man of the Match this week, chosen by coach Alisdair Gaw, could be none other than Jamie Muir for his excellent game management and outstanding kicking under pressure. Another player of note was David Montgomery who showed great versatility by starting the game at centre but moving to hooker after the loss of Fiskin, and excelling in both positions with some strong carrying.

The next game for NSRFC will be on Saturday 19th September at Bladnoch Park against Garnock RFC. Kick off will be at 3pm and all supporters are welcomed.