Newton Stewart 27, Oban Lorne 14
Winning last season’s RBS Bowl at Murrayfield and gaining promotion to West Division 2, Oban Lorne are on the up and must have fancied their chances of creating an upset in the preliminary round of this season’s RBS Shield.
With Bladnoch Park providing near perfect conditions, this was a contest of contrasting styles but the fitness and skills of the Reds were too much for their opponents.
Early engagements saw the visitors’ pack prove a handful but in the loose strength was not to be matched with speed and Newton’s new front-row recruits, James Vance and Iain Matier, stood firm.
The first 20 minutes were far from enthralling and with the home side catching the attention of the referee too frequently the game was a stop-start affair.
The Reds only stretched their legs on a couple of occasions in the first half with one such outing showing some good pace and hands between, McMillan, Russell and Ritchie down the wing with captain Mark Adams providing excellent support to take the try. The conversion gave Newton a narrow 7-6 half-time lead.
The second half opened with Oban poking their nose in front from yet another penalty but, stung into action, the Reds upped the pace and provided the spectators with a three-try rout.
First up was flanker David Montgomery with a solo break from the twenty-two and the youngster was too much for the opposition defence. Jack Ritchie fluffed the conversion but it was his only mistake of the day and, with his confidence back, the youngster had a fine game on the wing.
Only minutes after restart Newton were on the attack again and it was stand-off Jamie Muir who slipped through the Oban defence for another converted try.
Newton had assumed control and with further concerted pressure the elder statesman, Ali Gaw, drove over for the home side’s fourth try.
With the job effectively done and Newton back in ref Logan’s eye, the excitement stopped as quickly as it had arrived. Credit to Oban, though. When everyone thought the bulky forwards were down and out they managed to rally for the last 15 minutes and apply late pressure to the Newton defence.
A 10-minute encampment in the Reds’ half and a Newton error seeing Muir caught in possession was all it needed for the visitors to launch a last-gasp attack and the Oban prop forced his way over for a consolation.
In the end this was a comfortable win for the Reds but worth mentioning is that no fewer than six of the side were graduates from youth coach Ross McKie’s 2008 under-15s. The youth policy at Newton Stewart and the work being put in by youth coaches and development officer Jamie Muir is now paying dividends.
The future looks bright for the mighty Reds but the club is always looking for new recruits. Details of training nights can be found on the website and Facebook.
Scorers – tries: M Adams, D Montgomery, J Muir, A Gaw; conversions: I Russell, J Ritchie; penalties: J Ritchie.
Man of The Match : James Wallace
Newton Stewart: J Vance, R Fiskin, I Matier, M Adams( Capt), R Vance, C Johnstone, J Wallace, A Gaw, R McCornick, J Muir, L Brawls, I Russell, G McMillan, J Ritchie, T Wilson. Subs: D Montgomery, K Faulds, K Wright.