’Shire slump to defeat

Wigtownshire 13, Cumbernauld 38

Wigtownshire were in action again at London Road, Stranraer, on Saturday.

Their guests for this RBS West Regional Division 2 league fixture were bottom of the table Cumbernauld, who had only won one match this season.

The home side were under no illusions that it was likely to be an easy game. When the sides last met, at Cumbernauld, the “New Town” team raced to a 10-point lead and only grit and determination by the Wigtownshire team managed to haul them back to win by one point.

Prior to the kick-off a one-minute silence was held in remembrance of Wigtownshire member and stalwart Stewart “Maxi” Maxwell, who died earlier in the week.

Cumbernauld kicked off and managed to recover their kick. They immediately set off up the park, breaking poor Wigtownshire tackles. They were halted short of the line but were awarded a scrum on the five-metre line. A clean strike followed by a simple passing move to the wing put them across the line for the first score of the game with only one minute played and the conversion was good.

From the restart the visitors again capitalised on possession and took the direct route towards the home line. ’Shire were once again unable to make their tackles and the strong running Cumbernauld centres made short work of the poor defending to score under the posts. The conversion was a formality and with four minutes gone the home side were trailing by 14 points.

’Shire woke up and managed to win possession and put some pressure on the visitors but could not turn that into points. In fact, it was Cumbernauld who weathered the storm and hit back, being awarded a penalty and again with wind assistance added three points to their lead. Once again ’Shire tried to fight back but just could not make the pressure pay dividends as the visitors able to handle whatever they were attempting and turned the ball over to clear.

The home scrum was disappointing after some very good performances recently. The award of a scrum feed advantage was certainly of no use to them as the visiting pack pushed them off the ball with regularity, destroying any chance to keep pressure on. With 30 minutes gone ’Shire got their first real chance and Callum Austin did not need to be asked twice when they were awarded a penalty. He stepped up to covert the kick, getting the home side off the mark.

This appeared to buoy the locals, who came back up the park from the restart. A fine chip kick by Jason Patterson, which he collected as he ran through, broke the defensive line and put the visitors under pressure. They went off their feet in desperation at the resulting ruck, leading to a penalty for ’Shire. Ewan McCurdy and converted the kick close the half at 6-17.

The second period started with taking the game to the visitors. Unfortunately, the poor scrummaging negated any advantage. Cumbernauld did not need to be asked twice when given such opportunities, and again the poor defence and lacklustre tackling allowed the visitors to gain good field position. A speculative kick and chase by their standoff paid dividends. The ’Shire defence appeared to win the foot race to touch the ball down in goal, but ref John Logan adjudged that he had only pushed it backwards and it was the following up Cumbernauld player who got to the ball next and touched it down for a try. The conversion attempt fell short.

’Shire went to their ample replacement bench in attempt to change their fortunes. However, it was Cumbernauld who kept the scoreboard ticking over adding two penalties in the next 10 minutes. They added to that five minutes later when a rare period of pressure by the home side took them onto the Cumbernauld five-metre line, but poor ball retention allowed the visitors to steal possession and they ran the ball out. The ’Shire defence chased back, but great support play saw the visitors run the length of the park for their bonus point fourth try, which was unconverted.

More changes for ’Shire saw Kieran Little move to fullback, from where he had the opportunity to display his skills to bring a little cheer to the home support. He fielded a high ball at the back and elected to clear his line with a high kick. He gave chase to put his players onside. For once the visiting defence was found wanting and Little reached the ball, kicking it up the park. He continued to grubber-kick it along, and followed up as the ball crossed the line to score a fine solo try, to which William Parker added the extra points.

As the game came to a close it was Cumbernauld who scored again. A rock solid scrum gave them a platform to attack. A simple backs move out to the wing outstripped the home defence and allowed them to go over in the corner and a short time later Mr Logan brought the match to a close.

This was a very disappointing game. In Games against Cumbernauld have always been close, with both sides battling for the win. It was clear the visitors had improved since the previous meeting. Unfortunately poor ’Shire tackling and setpiece play gave them every opportunity to look good. The team was suffering from a number of regular players being unavailable for various reasons but those who did play felt they had not performed to their potential. Given their recent sterling home performances against better opposition, this was very disheartening. Next week ’Shire travel to Stewartry – a daunting prospect in light of this result.

Team: C Austin, C Reid, D Maccaig, W Parker, M Clarke, E McCurdy, J Patterson; M McConnell, R Drysdale, B Graham, D Watson, C McGregor, G Keith, C Stephens, K McNeil (captain). Reps: R McCreadie, J Montgomery, A Graham, D Packer, S Hannah, K Little, G Dunlop.