’Shire power to victory

shire chase the loose ball
shire chase the loose ball

Wigtownshire 22, Lanark 3

Wigtownshire took to the field hoping to make amends for their performance against Cumnock last week and return to winning ways.

The conditions were just right for good running rugby. The home side went on the attack from the start, pushing deep into the Lanark half. A lineout gave them good possession and they drove over the line but the visitors managed to hold the ball up. The resulting scrum was won but white line fever struck and a rushed pass was intercepted by Lanark, who tried to run the ball out. A knockon gave ’Shire the put in, but an early push and wayward words to the referee allowed Lanark to clear.

The ’Shire scrum was producing quick ball. This put the home team on the front foot and driving play by Mickie Haste and Craig Hamilton took them up the middle but good defending prevented a score.

Lanark were then awarded a penalty just inside the ’Shire half and they elected to kick at goal. The ball dropped just short, but the writing was on the wall as any indiscretions might be punished. The home side were in danger of slipping as they did at Cumnock with the penalty count rising.

Lanark cleared with a kick only to have it brought straight back upfield. Connor Stephens burst through with ball in hand. Good support play and handling resulted in Gordon Keith taking the last pass to score a fine team try in 32 minutes. Callum Austin added the conversion.

Lanark came back strongly and gave their backs a run. Their efforts were brought to a halt by Munro McConnell who in desperation rather than maliciously, tackled a runner high. His efforts earned him 10 minutes in the sinbin. Lanark took advantage of the situation and applied pressure. They were awarded a kickable penalty with 38 minutes gone which brought the score to 7-3.

The second half started with McConnell still having three minutes in the bin. But returned to full strength, te coach started to use his bench and moved players around. Unfortunately, injury played a hand as well: Craig Hamilton pulled his hamstring and had to leave the field.

A short time later ’Shire were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and Austin added another three points.

Lanark tried to run upfield, but took the ball into contact against McConnell. He targeted the ball and came out on top. Quick ball through the hands released Duncan MacCaig, who powered up the pitch, breaking and avoiding tackles. When they eventually stopped him, he offloaded to his captain, Andy Farquhar, who crossed for a fine score, though the conversion attempt slipped wide.

Five minutes later ’Shire scored again. An exchange of kicks saw fullback Corrie Hose sprint after a ball drilled towards the line. He ran between two defenders but as he made his attempt to collect the ball he was pushed in the back and off his feet. The ref was in no doubt that he would have scored if he had not been interfered with and awarded a penalty try, to which Austin added the extra points.

The home side now sensed a try bonus and went all out with that in mind. They managed to get to the Lanark five-metre line with a lineout. They caught and drove, but Lanark held out.

’Shire were clearly the stronger team but still have much to work on. The penalty count remains too high and against stronger sides would be punished. But scoring three tries was a real step forward and can only encourage the team.

’Shire are in action again at London Road on Saturday, when they play Isle of Mull at 3pm.

Team: C Hose, C Hamilton, A Farquhar (captain), D MacCaig, H McGeoch, J Dalrymple, C Austin; M Hastie, G Keith, B Graham, G Dunlop, M McConnell, R Dewar, C Stephens, R Pauley. Reps: C McGregor, S Taggart, G Campbell, C Reid, S Cameron, M Clarke, K Little.