BT West Regional League Division 3
Wigtownshire RFC 1st XV 15 – Bishopton RFC 1st XV 22
Rugby returned to London Road, Stranraer on Saturday after a break of ten weeks. Wigtownshire were looking to overturn an away defeat by their visitors Bishopton earlier in the season. That result back in January had given “Bish” a real boost, winning four of the six games they have played since then. “Shire” on the other hand have only played once since that match. So the likely result of this game was very difficult to predict.
A good crowd of spectators gathered on the touch line on what was a dry afternoon. A cool north westerly wind was blowing along the length of the pitch from the Bowling Green Road end. Bishopton kicked off with the wind advantage. They put the ball high in the air and indecision by the “Shire” forwards allowed them to recover possession. They immediately showed their intent as the ball flashed across their backs and out to the wing. Unfortunately a dropped pass brought their assault on the “Shire” line to a halt. The first scrum of the game never even got set as Referee McElivy called foul on “Shires” bind. The free kick was taken, then taken again for failure to retire. The home side were very much under the cosh as Bishopton came on, determined to cross the line. The home defence held, but at the cost of a penalty, “tackler failing to roll away”. With five minutes played the visitors claimed three points as the kick was converted. From the restart Wigtownshire managed to get into the Bishopton half, but only as far as the ten metre line. They took the ball from Bishopton at a ruck and worked it back and forth across the park but failed to progress either through backs or forwards. The visitors held them out and set out their stall. The first set scrum showed the “Shire” power as they drove Bishopton back at pace. Then somehow the visitors managed to keep the ball but under pressure looked for the touch line. The line out take and drive fared no better, the few old heads in the visiting team disrupted everything and avoided the attention of the referee as they did so. Eventually they kicked to clear and drew a second kickable penalty as the home side failed to retire under their own clearance kick. The score moved on to six nil as the clock ticked on. This time from the restart the ball was knocked into touch by a visiting player. Wigtownshire took the lineout ball, and moved it forward. A quick pass released McCrindle on a charge, who offloaded to Captain McNeil, who crashed forward. Lawson then took it on, and passed to Adam Paxton, who crossed the line for a try. The conversion attempt went wide. McCrindle fielded the restart and off they went again. This time a high tackle on McNeil halted the attack. Eventually the visitors gained possession when the ball mysteriously popped out from the side of a ruck. They used the wind and went back on the offensive. “Shire” defended, turning over the ball and attempting to get on the front foot, Watson and McIntosh both having good runs, but they just could not break out. Then, pinned in the danger zone, the penalty came, this time the wind blew the ball wide and score stayed the same. From the drop out Bishopton caught the ball and came straight back towards the line. Once more the home side fended off the attackers, but could not work out of their own half. This stalemate was broken, when frustrations boiled over, and the two teams clashed as the referee lost control. Once calm was restored “Shires” Adam Paxton was red carded for a punch that was thrown. The visitors kept up the pressure and despite missing a penalty kick at goal, managed to use the extra man advantage to pass the ball out their backs for a try in the seventh minute of injury time. The conversion kick was good taking the score to 13 points to 5 as the half time whistle sounds.
The second half started with both teams going at a frantic pace and neither seemed able to get any real shape in their game. Nine minutes in the referee went to his cards again this time only a yellow against Bishopton for a high tackle of “Shire” hooker Gordon Keith. With numbers even, Bishopton went to uncontested scrums, as they had lost a front row player to the yellow. Despite losing the scrum push advantage, this seem only to encourage the home side. They worked their way up to the Bishopton try line. After several assaults on the line it was Gary Dunlop who broke through and scored. The conversion went wide. Eight minutes later he went in again for a try. He was on the end of what was a huge effort by all the local players. Bishopton who were back at full strength, defended manfully but could not stop them and “Shire” took the lead by two points. The visitors shocked by this turn around looked for any advantage they could get. They tried to take it to uncontested scrums because of injury, but when they realized they would lose a player, the front row was restored. This diversion did however give them time to regroup. It managed to take the sting out of the resurgent “Shire” team who were getting on top. Back on track once more Bishopton sought to gain field position through the boot. With fifteen minutes to play it work, even though they were kicking into the wing. Wigtownshire conceded four kickable penalties, Bishopton converted three of them. The last, once again, in the seventh minute of injury time, brought the game to a close, Bishopton winning 22 points to 15.
This was a very disappointing result for the local side. They must sort out their penalty issues and work on their kicking game. This was a game that they would have expected to win and the power and drive they showed at times, one they should have won. That having been said Bishopton are a capable young side. A number of their players have come through their youth system together, which shows when they have ball in hand. They also have a number of old heads at key positions, doing what needs to be done to give their young guns a chance. Wigtownshire need to put this game behind them and do so quickly. It is important that they regain focus and look forward to the four games still to play. Starting with Loch Lomond RFC on Saturday 11th April 2015 at London Road, kick off 3pm.
Team: C Hose, S Cameron, A Farquhar, G Henry, J McIntosh, J Dalrymple, C Reid; R McCrindle, G Keith, D Watson, B Graham, G Dunlop, D Lawson, A Paxton, K McNeil (Capt).
Replacements: M McConnell, M McKie, C Lammie, K Little, D Kelly, I Currie, J Loch.