The annual New Year fixture between Newton Stewart and Wigtownshire at Bladnoch Park fell victim to the atrocious weather at the weekend.
Newton Stewart worked hard to beat the elements but it was not felt possible to move the match to Stranraer at short notice. It is hoped that it can be re-scheduled later in the year to ensure this important traditional clash is carried on.
The ’Shire players gathered at their clubhouse at Stranraer and decided to hold a training game involving players from both first and second teams. Coach Ross McCreadie picked two sides and took to the field as referee as ’Shire staged their very own version of the “varsity” match, with light and dark blues taking to the pitch.
The light blues made the best of the start, driving up the field. Great hands and strong forward play gave them the advantage, Gareth Steel, Jason McKie and Gary Dunlop took the ball on and a knock-on stopped them going in. The dark blues looked to clear their lines, only to have McKie, James Hunter and Corrie Hose bring it back up the park. They took it back to their forwards and Gideon Hunter slipped a pass to Steel, who went in for the first, uncoverted, try.
The restart allowed the dark blues some possession but it was not long before the lights came back and were awarded a penalty. Lawrence Smith stepped up and added three points.
It looked like they were going to run away with the game when Hose showed his pace and went in for a try and a 13-point advantage.
With 13 minutes on the clock, the darks managed to get some possession and released their backs. Jamie Farquhar finished off the move with a fine try and Blair Forsyth added the extra points.
Things were getting heated. Coach McCreadie had to cool things off with Jason McKie being given 10 minutes in the bin. A short time later saw the lights reduced further, a calf injury meaning Smith had to leave the field. The darks made the best of this advantage with Hamish McGeoch showing his pace to go in for an unconverted try.
McKie came back on and although his side was a man down they took the game to the opposition. The darks, however, kept the pressure on and it was their fullback Keiran Little’s turn to show his pace. He left allcomers standing but with only fullback Hose to beat, he met his match. A solid tackle dislodged the ball and turned over possession.
The darks kept up the pressure, regained possession and Robbie Forsyth made a break with support on both sides. Only determined tackling kept them out. Eventually the lights worked their way onto the darks’ 22 and were awarded a penalty. James Hunter added three points.
Being a man down did not seem to matter as they were next to score again. Hose, McKie and Gideon Hunter combined to breach the line, with McKie scoring the try and James Hunter adding the extras. Half-time saw the light blues well ahead.
The break allowed the dark blues to regroup, and with three minutes on the clock they went in for a score. A solid scrum gave them good ball well inside the lights’ half. Jamie Farquhar passed to Blair Forsyth on the blind side. He drew in the defence and gave the perfect pass the Matt Clarke for a fine winger’s try.
They were intent on making the extra man count. Campbell Reid took the ball on, slipped it to Bob Graham who crashed over for a try. The conversion was a formality and gave the dark blues the lead for the first time.
The referee had to speak to players on both sides to maintain order. David Watson put in a crunching tackle a bit on the high side and Bob Graham earned a 10-minute rest when the advice he was giving to the whistler was unsolicited.
The light blues scored next to retake the lead. James Hunter converted a penalty to make the most of field position. With the clock running down, Andy Farquhar wanted the win for the dark blues. He retrieved the ball from the penalty kick and sprinted up the field. His drop kick restart unfortunately found its way into the dead ball area. But the chase forced the light blues to touch down.
The 22 restart was fumbled and the darks had a scrum in an attacking position. They won the ball but were prevented from running as McKie knocked on deliberately. The penalty to touch gave them a five-metre lineout which the light blues disrupted but from the following scrum the dark blues won the ball. Winger McGeoch created an extra man. Stand-off Blair Forsyth used him well and McGeoch carved his way over to score. The extra points were added and the final whistle sounded with the score at Dark Blues 31, Light Blues 26.
This was a great afternoon of rugby and a very worthwhile run out, especially those who turned out for the second XV. The coach enjoyed seeing the game as a referee, seeing what needs to be worked on.
The players enjoyed celebrating the New Year with their friends in clubhouse later.
This Saturday the team gets back to league duties, playing host to leaders Uddingston at London Road at 2pm.
Dark Blues: Keiran Little, Hamish McGeoch, Andy Farquhar, Duncan McCaig, Matt Clark, Blair Forsyth, Jamie Farquhar; Bob Graham, Campbell Reid, Alisdair Murray, Andy Graham, Rory Dewar, Fergus McColm, David Packer, Keith McNeil
Light Blues: Corrie Hose, Sean Hannah, John McIntosh, Lawrence Smith, Robbie Forsyth, James Hunter, Gareth Steel; Gordon Keith, Gideon Hunter, David Watson, Wayne Doyle, John Adams, Jason McKie, Gary Dunlop, George Reid.