BT West Regional League Division 3
Wigtownshire were on the road again on Saturday, travelling north through the snow-covered countryside, to play the league new boys Bishopton RFC.
“Bish”, as their supporters call them, won promotion from Division Four last season as champions. They have a flourishing youth set up and pride themselves in bringing home-grown talent through into their senior side.
They have found life in the higher league difficult since the start of the season, with only one win in eight games. Things were not made any easier for the club back in October when one of the young players died at home very suddenly and unexpectedly. This happened just before they were due to travel to “Shire” to play in the first half of the season. That match was called off as a mark of respect for the young man and to allow the community to come to terms with the loss.
Bishopton kicked the match off, playing into the wind in the first half. During the early part of the game ‘Shire camped close to the Bishopton line. Time after time, Henry, McConnell, Porter and McNeil, were stopped short of the line.
After two scrums close to the Bishopton line Porter picked up and as he was bundled towards the touchline he slipped the ball back inside to Gordon Keith who took it in for his first try of the season. The conversion attempt was blown off course by the wind.
From the restart the game continued at pace. Wigtownshire kept the pressure on, but Bishopton showed skill in defence. Eventually Bishopton managed to get some possession and into the “Shire” half.
But it was ‘Shire who scored next. Porter found himself in space. Taking the ball at pace he stepped out of two tackles to score under the posts and add the conversion.
The home side replied straight away, passing quickly along the line, the full back came in to add the extra man. Wigtownshire just run out of tacklers as the winger rounded the move off with a score in the corner. The conversion attempt dropped short.
Right from the off in the second half the visitors were determined to make up for the earlier missed opportunities.
But ‘Shire found themselves under the cosh. With 15 minutes played Bishopton were knocking on the door of another score.
The visitors managed to get the ball and kicked off their line. A charge down brought back into the dead ball area and a ‘Shire player touched it down, Scrum Bishopton. This time the home scrum held and their back row broke with ball in hand to crash over for a try.
The conversion attempt hit the posts, but did not go over the bar, two points in the game. This was very much a case of “Deja-vu” for the ‘Shire players and supporters.
From the restart Bishopton used the wind at every opportunity to keep pressure on, using it to make the visitors play everything from deep. This challenge was accepted by Wigtownshire, time and time again they attacked with ball in hand. Even penalty opportunities were spurned as they kicked to touch for line out plays.
Twice more ‘Shire crossed the home line; Dewar dropped the ball as he went over on the end of a good passing play. Similarly Ross McCreadie failed to get the ball down when he burst over following good team work.
As the clock counted down the omens were not good. Every time they got the ball Bishopton kicked deep into Wigtownshire territory. Eventually with one minute to play a penalty was awarded to the home side at a lineout for offside. It was awarded 15 metres in and inside the ‘Shire twenty-two.
This time the Bishopton kicker had found his boot as the ball went over the bar between the posts. A very short time later Mr Dowling blew his whistle to end the game.
To say ‘Shire hearts were broken would be an understatement. The third game to be lost by one point, each as a result of a penalty kicked in the last five minutes of the game is very hard to take.
However when one looks at some of the game statistic from Saturday, one has to wonder why they were even in this position. They crossed the try line seven times but only twice were awarded a score.
More worryingly they shunned three very kickable penalties in front of the posts in favour of set piece plays. On their own those nine points would have made a world of difference in the end. Food for thought perhaps, before the side play their next fixture, a home game at London Road against Loch Lomond on Saturday, February 14, kicking off at 3pm.
Team: S Cameron, A Farquhar, R Dewar, G Henry, W McHarrie, D Lawson, C Reid; R McCrindle, D Watson, M McConnell, G Dunlop, K McNeil (Capt), G Keith, A Paxton, I Porter.
Replacements: B Graham, C Dickson, R Thomson, J Patterson, R McCreadie.