Solid home performance from ‘Shire

Rugby report for Saturday 19th

RBS West Regional League Division 3 - 1st October 2013

Wigtownshire RFC XV 26 – Birkmyre RFC 1st XV 6

Saturday saw Birkmyre RFC from Kilmacolm, in Renfrewshire travel to Stranraer to play Wigtownshire.

Both teams were hopeful of a good result. The visitors had a good away win last weekend against the Isle of Arran, while the “Shire” suffered a sizable lose to league leaders Uddingston. The outcome of this game was significant for both teams, for the home side it was about staying in touch at the top, the visitors, on the other hand, wanting to secure their place in the league for next season and keep away from the relegation zone.

Wigtownshire kicked off playing towards Bowling Green Road with the wind blowing from London Road across the pitch. The long kick was helped by the wind and ball blown towards the touch line. The Birkmyre winger attempted to field the ball but it went through his hand and out of play on the 5 metre line. The ensuing line out was won by the home side and the ball sent out across the balls. Captain Andy Farquhar was stopped short of the line. Quick ruck ball released Jason McKie who went in for a try in the first minute of the game.

Callum Austin stepped up and added the conversion. From the restart “Shire” came straight back up the pitch putting considerable pressure on the visitors. Only the last pass let them down. The “Shire” forwards then turned the screw in the set piece, taking ball against head, turning over the lineout and turning the scrum.

The backs run the ball up, supported by both tight and loose forward but the next score just would not come.

Lawrence Smith showed his tremendous speed and running skill but to no avail, the Birkmyre defence managed to get across and kept the rampaging home side out. After 12 minutes the visitors managed to get the ball and made some ground getting into the “Shire” half. Awarded a penalty just inside the home 10 metre line, their stand off stepped up and kicked a fine goal to get them on the score board. The home side, “Shire”, were spurred on by this, came back down the pitch but again white line fever hit again and it came to nothing. This encouraged the visitors who got out of their half again. The home side had to knuckle down and fight to keep them out. They managed to push them back and got on top again but the next score just would not come. Smith continued to menace the Birkmyre defenders and support players were at hand but the ball seemed like a bar of soap and it would not stay in hand. The visitors got another chance to score just before half time when they got out of their half. They were awarded a penalty but it drifted wide of the post and referee Nigel Fortnum blew for half time with “Shire” leading 7 points to 3.

The second half kicked off and continued along the same line but as time passed Birkmyre grew in confidence and with possession, tested the home side. They were not found wanting with Corrie Hose fielding the ball at full back, running and kicking to good effect, and Jason McKie finding his feet again after his injury lay off.

The pressure led to a Birkmyre 22 drop out. Gordon Keith blocked the restart and gathered the ball. He laid it

off to Jason Patterson who gave it out Smith. He was taken into touch but the “Shire” lineout machine swung into action. Connor Stephens disrupted the Birkmyre ball and it was dropped to Gary Dunlop. He drove forward and when stopped, the ball was spun wide to a waiting pod of forwards. They took it up and drew in the defence. Quick ball went out to the backs and Captain Andy Farquhar took it on, at pace, to cross the line for the second try. The conversion went wide. Birkmyre came straight back into the game. A penalty awarded against Wigtownshire was advanced by 10 metre when they failed to retire and the visiting kicker punished their indiscretion by adding three points to the tally. This gave them heart and it was the Wigtownshire defence that was tested and both the visitors and spectators thought an upset was coming. However the home side had other plans. With 25 minutes of the half gone, Smith was coming more and more into the game. He broke the line and with the forwards in close support, it was Connor Stephens who crossed the line score. Austin added the conversion. The match continued in the same vain, despite the Birkmyre boys working very hard, seven minutes later the home side scored again. The sound scrum platform allowed Keith McNeil to pick up and drive forward. He off loaded to Jason Patterson after leaving the “Myre” back row behind. He popped the ball to Farquhar charging forward at pace. He was met by the Birkmyre winger who tried to take him into touch, only to spin him round towards the line. Farquhar broke free to score for a second time. Austin stepped up and converted a long range kick from the touch line. The visitors did not give up until the final whistle. They worked hard to get back into the game however it would not come for them. Even at the last, when they were awarded a penalty on the “Shire” line, they knocked it on as they took the tap. With no time remaining the “Stewartry” whistler brought the match to a conclusion, with the score line standing at 26 – 6 in favour of the home side.

This was a very solid performance by the home side. The game should have been well won in the first half with the field position and possession that “Shire” had. Closing out and scoring when in the opposition 22 is still an issue. It was encouraging to note that the defensive issues from last weekend had been addressed and that phase of play appeared more solid. Now just they have to get the last pass to stick and the scores will come.

The league campaign continues next Saturday when “Shire” travels to Arran. The island club has a good home record and is difficult to beat in Brodick. Wigtownshire will have to be on their game if they are to reverse recent away form.

Team: C Hose, J Dalrymple, A Farquhar (Capt), L Smith, S Cameron, C Austin, J Hunter; M Hastie, G Keith,

M McConnell, B Graham, G Dunlop, C Reid, J McKie, C Stephens.

Replacements: K McNeil, S Blain, R Pauley, J Patterson, J McIntosh, H McGeoch, M Clarke