’Shire pay penalty for indiscipline

Jason McKie sets off with the ball.
Jason McKie sets off with the ball.

Wigtownshire 5, Uddingston 21

Wigtownshire played host to league leaders and recently crowned RBS West Regional Bowl Champions, Uddingston, at London Road on Saturday.

The visitors have won all their league games and have taken a bonus point for scoring four or more tries in seven of their eight matches, including their home game against the ’Shire.

’Shire hoped home advantage would help but their chances were not helped by injuries to key players, including scrum-half James Hunter and wingers John McIntosh and captain Andy Farquhar.

Uddingston kicked off in conditions ideal good for running rugby. Uddingston chased hard but ’Shire captain for the day, Keith McNeil, took the ball and carried it into contact.

Uddingston showed skills with ball in hand but the ’Shire defence held and a knock-on resulted in the first scrum. ’Shire displayed power in the set piece, providing a platform for the backs, but the Uddingston back row disrupted clean possession.

It was this prowess that bought the first try. With 13 minutes gone, ’Shire were awarded scrum 10 metres from their line. The tight forwards won the ball but a fumble gave the visitors an opportunity and quick as a flash they picked up and drove over to score. The conversion missed.

A short time later they scored again, this time their kicker finding his range with a penalty in front of the posts.

The ’Shire power machine won ball at a scrum against the put in, giving their backs ball to play with and they managed to get inside the visitors’ 22 for the first time with 24 minutes played. ’Shire were awarded a kickable penalty, alas the kicker appeared to have left his boots at home as the ball went wide.

The home side kept the pressure on, taking ball at both scrum and lineout, with Campbell Reid majestic in the latter.

Just before half-time this paid dividends as a disrupted Uddingston throw was gathered by Rory Dewar who charged at the line. He was tackled just short but offloaded to Jason McKie who crashed over for an unconverted score.

’Shire started the second half as they had finished the first. They brought pressure to bear and it was Uddingston who had to show defensive skills.

Eventually it was indiscipline that gave the visitors their chance. A penalty allowed them to clear and put them back on the front foot. ’Shire then lost their talisman hooker Gordon Keith to injury. Uddingston did not need any encouragement and turned the screw.

The ’Shire players tackled strongly but it was one of these tackles that allowed Uddingston to score again. A ball was chipped through and fullback Corrie Hose brought the kicker down late. The penalty was quickly taken and three points added.

A few minutes later they scored again. This time they were awarded a penalty close to the ’Shire line. A quick tap was taken and they burst over for a try. The conversion went wide.

The local boys worked hard to get back into the game but it was Uddingston who were getting better field position. The task was made harder when the referee yellow carded John Dalrymple. ’Shire, a man down, did not give up, props Mickie Hastie and Munro McConnell went on a charge and gave the visitors some problems before they eventually regained control and established some field position.

In the fourth minute of injury time Uddingston broke the ’Shire defensive line. They managed to get their offload game working and it created space for their speedy backs. This time the ’Shire cover just could not make the tackles and the visitors managed to score a try. The conversion once again went wide.

This was a very hard game for both sides. The local team should take heart from the fact they were able to disrupt their opponents’ considerable prowess with ball in hand. To be only the second team to stop them from scoring four tries in a league game is no mean achievement. However, the ’Shire players, officials and supporters were a little disappointed after the game.

Two of the scores against them were soft and could have been prevented. The kicking from both hand and tee was somewhat disappointing and, given the possession won from both from lineout and scrum, things could have been very different.

The penalty count was high and at times gave the visitors the chance to clear. All of these things can be worked on for the remaining four league games. This Saturday the ’Shire travel to Kilmacolm to play Birkmyre.

Wigtownshire: C Hose, H McGeoch, L Smith, D Maccaig, R Forsyth, C Austin, J Patterson; M Hastie, G Keith, M McConnell, B Graham, G Dunlop, J McKie, C Reid, K McNeil (captain). Replacements: C McGregor, S Blain, R Dewar, J Dalrymple, S Cameron, K Little.

Davie Hunter