’Shire’s hopes are washed away

Wigtownshire and Arran battle the conditions as well as each other
Wigtownshire and Arran battle the conditions as well as each other

Isle of Arran 9, Wigtownshire 5

Wigtownshire returned to Arran on Saturday having won there the previous weekend.

They were greeted with hail, thunder and lightning. The water coming off the pitch met the players and referee as they approached the park. An inspection was held and it was agreed to play the match with uncontested scrums.

The game started over an hour after its scheduled time with the home side kicking off. The ball did not reach the 10-metre line and stuck in the water. Wigtownshire elected to play on and slid in to retrieve and recycle the ball. They charged up the park, spinning the ball out along backs. Arran regrouped and halted the attack.

’Shire’s Jason McKie charged down the clearance kick and gathered the ball. He was stopped short of scoring himself but possession was recycled and the ball came out to Hamish McGeoch who sprinted forward and dived over for an unconverted try.

From the restart ’Shire took the ball upfield again but this time the home side managed to prevent any score and work their way into the visitors’ half for the first time, through a penalty awarded for offside.

Another penalty for a high tackle gave the home side their first scoring opportunity but the kick failed to cross the bar.

But Arran were back on the attack and putting the visitors under pressure. Fine footballing skills by their winger playing the ball up the park on the ground earned them a scrum and ’Shire had to carry the ball over their line and touch down to prevent a score.

Arran eventually were awarded a penalty closer to the ’Shire posts and the kick was good. Unfortunately, ’Shire discipline was letting them down and allowing Arran into the game. Six minutes later they converted another penalty, following an offside decision, to give them a one-point lead. They had another chance four minutes later when referee Graeme Fisher adjudged that ’Shire collapsed a maul. On this occasion the conditions conspired to prevent the score.

Wigtownshire were working hard to break out, but the game got bogged down in the centre of the pitch.

’Shire started the second half and the Arran captain fielded the kick, running straight and hard, back towards advancing visitors. He got well into ’Shire territory before they could halt his charge.

Unfortunately, ’Shire players were having difficulties with Mr Fisher instructions regarding the laws and the penalty count began to rise again. Arran were proving difficult to play against, with infringements resulting in good possession for Arran. Fortunately, kicking was more difficult for them in this half, but it did keep the pressure on.

’Shire, however, managed to break out from the restart and make it into the Arran half. It was ’Shire now who applied pressure and were rewarded with a penalty but the attempt slipped wide.

Arran did get another kick at goal from a penalty, which they converted and added three points to their tally. With the light fading and rain still falling Mr Fisher brought the game to a close, to loud cheers from the home side and their drenched supporters.

This was a hard-fought contest and the conditions were incredibly difficult. Both the travelling supporters from ’Shire and the hardy Arran followers commented how worth watching the game had been despite the conditions. Both sides managed to make use of the backs on a day when it would normally have been forward led.

With the Bowl competition now behind them, ’Shire can concentrate on the league. They have a break this weekend due to the autumn internationals, but are back in action at London Road next Saturday at 2pm. against table-topping Cumnock. This is a game not to be missed and possible promotion opportunities will be very much dependent on the outcome.

Team: C Hose, A Farquhar (captain), J McIntosh, D Maccaig, H McGeoch, C Austin, J Hunter; M Hastie, G Keith, B Graham, G Dunlop, M McConnell, C Reid, J McKie, K McNeil. Reps: C McGregor, S Blain, R Dewar, R McCreadie, J Patterson, S Cameron, K Little