Vital win against old rivals

Thomas MacDonald making yards. BB photography.
Thomas MacDonald making yards. BB photography.

Newton Stewart RFC 39

Allan Glens RFC 0

BT West Division 1

The final home match for Newton Stewart RFC kicked off on Saturday against old rivals Allan Glens, a very physical team from the north of Glasgow.

Looking to secure the runner up spot in the league this season, Newton Stewart were on the hunt for another victory.

A hospitality lunch held pre-match in the clubhouse ensured that the large turnout of supporters were in good voice by the time the players took to the field. Allan Glens kicked off and as soon as centre Fraser Morton collected the ball the home team came on the attack.

Confident running and well rehearsed moves allowed Newton Stewart to put immediate pressure on their opposition. An ambitious reverse pass resulted in an unfortunate knock-on to temporarily halt their progress up the field however. The resultant scrum, with Allan Glens put in, was an opportunity for the Reds to show their dominance in the set piece, and with the home team winning the scrum against the head, back row James Wallace was able to pick up the ball and power his way over the line for an early try. The conversion attempt by stand-off Jamie Muir went wide.

More Newton Stewart possession followed, the team displaying some impressive fast-moving attack in extremely heavy ground. A forward pass this time prevented them reaching the line however and the visitors were given a temporary reprieve.

Taking their opportunity to attack, Allan Glens began running at the Newton Stewart line. Strong defensive work has become characteristic of the Reds’ play this season, and it was on show again in this match. Some fierce contesting at the breakdown from back row Mark McCornick eventually won a penalty for Newton Stewart within range of the posts, and Muir struck the ball well to extend the lead to 8-0.

After the restart the Reds reclaimed possession again and began to force their opponents back once more. Some fantastic quick, off-loading play soon resulted in Morton finding the ball in space and a good step around his opposite man gifted Newton Stewart their second try of the day after just 20 minutes. Muir converted this one to heap the pressure onto Allan Glens.

The remainder of the first half was a much more balanced affair, with the visitors finally getting their defences sorted out. The Reds now found themselves being held at bay in the middle of the park, although to their credit they did not allow their opponents to progress either.

Eventually some patient build-up brought Newton Stewart deep into the Allan Glens territory once more, and captain William McCornick was now able to crash over the line from short distance to score a try. The conversion went narrowly wide for Muir once again.

The game restarted for the final play of the half and Allan Glens looked to finish it with a flourish. Surging forward into the Newton Stewart half they suddenly found themselves caught short when the ball went loose and a rapid counterattack from Morton left them scrabbling some defence together. Seasoned campaigner Alisdair Gaw, on from the bench, was running a superb support line however, and the pass from Morton was good to allow Newton Stewart to score the fourth try, and importantly the bonus point to go with it, right under the posts. The easy conversion kick followed to leave the Reds 27-0 ahead at half-time.

The second half was a long one for tired legs in soft ground, however both teams kept up the intensity. Straight from the restart Newton Stewart were once again camped upon the Allan Glens line, looking for a way through to extend their lead. Patient recycling of the ball and some quick hands eventually paid off when Alisdair Gaw found space to score his second try of the match.

Just as the Reds were looking exceedingly comfortable, the visitors made a break down the near side of the pitch in a rapid counterattack. Some dedicated running and a ferocious tackling ensured the score sheet stayed clean.

Back in control of the ball, Newton Stewart pushed their opponents back once more. Muir ran a fantastic angle to create space for himself and surged across the gain line. Defending with all their mettle, right on the try line, Allan Glens forced the penalty and were able to kick their way out of trouble temporarily.

The respite was short lived however when another clinical passing phase allowed the Reds back into the danger zone, this time David Montgomery crossed the line for Newton Stewart’s final try of the game. Muir converted to bring the final tally to 39-0.

The last ten minutes of play were some of Allan Glens most dangerous. Newton Stewart did not want to allow their visitors the consolation of a late try, however they were forced to work hard to keep them out. Resilient tackling and organisation paid off, and the Reds send their opponents home with nothing to show for their afternoon’s endeavour.

This was a very solid performance from in form Newton Stewart and it was remarkably clinical given the ground conditions. Second row Thomas MacDonald stood out from the crowd with his confident running with the ball in hand, however the man of the match must be Alisdair Gaw scoring two tries in this game, only months from his 40th birthday!

The next port of call for Newton Stewart RFC is Cambuslang this Saturday (19th March). With only three games to play, and a narrow gap between the Reds in second place and Carrick RFC in third, another win is vital to secure the runner up spot.