Tight match for Shire after eight week break

Cumnock RFC 11

Wigtownshire RFC 7

Wigtownshire restarted their division three season on Saturday following the Six Nations break.

The local lads had a daunting task ahead of them, having played no games for eight weeks, as they travelled north to face the league leaders. With their recent record in games against Cumnock standing at naught from two, and the Ayrshire men recently winning through to the Nation Bowl Competition Final at Murrayfield on the 18th April it was likely to be a tough match for the Shire boys

With eight minutes played Shire had their first scoring chance. A forward pass gave “Shire” a scrum on their twenty two. Good ball allowed them to try and kick to clear their lines. The kick was charged down, the home team kicked on towards the line. The ball beat the player to the dead ball line, no score. They did get ball back at the twenty two drop out and stayed in the “Shire” half. Eventually a penalty allowed them the chance to score. The ball sailed over the bar, between the posts and they were rewarded with three points for all their pressure and hard work.

Wigtownshire used the restart to apply some pressure of their own. It was their turn to get deep into the opposition half. A series of penalties had brought them right onto the Cumnock line. The wind discouraged them from attempting a kick at goal, so the lineout drive was the favoured option.

Eventually after three attempts a very messy lineout just short of the line gave Cumnock the break they needed. A clearance kick on the wind took the ball back into the Wigtownshire twenty two and into touch. Once more the “Shire” tried to break out but failing to roll away at the tackle, offside at kicks and other infringements, all showing their ring rustiness.

Even a pass interception by Gordon Keith fell out of his hands as he was taking it. Once again Cumnock capitalized on their pressure. A lineout drive took them onto the line and they broke on the blind side to go over in the corner for a try. The wind carried the ball away at the conversion attempt but once more they turned pressure into points. When the half time whistle came the score stood at 8-0 to the home side.

The second half began with Cumnock showing their intention to play with ball in hand to combat the wind. Once more the home side worked hard to keep the visitors in their own half.

At break downs and set plays they aggressively set about their task. On the edge of off side they came up fast and once again this resulted in a kick through being chased into the “Shire” in goal area. The ball bounce on over the dead ball area before any hands could reach it.

While Cumnock were on the straying edge of offside and mostly getting away with it, Wigtownshire continued to have issues with the tackle. Their penalty count for failing to roll away was rising and referee Catriona McCracken’s patience was waning.

A final warning was issued to the team regarding their offending. A problem only six minutes into the half. The Wigtownshire response, a try. Using the wind David Lawson cleared down the park. Hamish McGeoch gave chase and slowed to make his tackle on the Cumnock full back court. The ball came loose and Rory Dewar was on hand to hack it forward. McGeoch back on his feet sprinted forward to gather the ball and round the post for a score.

Porter added the conversion.

Unfortunately it was the persistent offending that came back to haunt the visitors. Gordon Keith was adjudged offside at a line out as he came through on the scrum half. Ms. McCracken gave him ten minutes in the sin bin to consider that action. The penalty kick at goal slipped wide in the wind. However another before he returned to the game added three points to the Cumnock tally.

The scoreline gives the impression that this game was very tight. In fact had Wigtownshire taken all their chances they may even have won.

Saturday was very much like starting the season all over again and they really need to sort out the penalty count. As League leaders and Bowl Finalist Cumnock were disappointing. In fact, given the circumstances, to travel to Cumnock and come away with a loss bonus point in the league, and not allowing them a try bonus could even be seen as something of a result. Wigtownshire now look forward to three home games in a row, starting with Bishopton RFC on Saturday at London Road, kick off 3pm.

Team: J Dalrymple, A Farquhar, H McGeoch, I Porter, J McIntosh, D Lawson, C Reid; R McCrindle, G Keith, D Watson, B Graham, C Dickson, G Dunlop, R Dewar, K McNeil (Capt).

Replacements: C Lammie, D Kelly, I Currie, R McCreadie.