Tough opener for U-16 side
New. Stewart U16s..............47 Stewartry U16s......................5
On a blustery but fine Sunday afternoon at Bladnoch, the new season kicked off.
It was the first chance for this year’s teams to find out how the mix of last year’s experienced players and this year’s new recruits would gel.
Unfortunately for the Stewartry, it became clear quite early on that it was the Newton Stewart side that were playing as a team and, with a number of experienced players dominating possession and territory.
They scored four unanswered, but unconverted, tries in the first half keeping possession well and working overlaps, seemingly at will. There was some stalwart defence by Kerr Dalrymple and Gulliver, but Newton Stewart played the numbers game well, reclaiming possession and scoring with significant overlaps.
The second half was a more interesting contest. Newton Stewart scored more tries than in the first half but the Stewartry made a much better game of it, learning from some of their first half mistakes. Callum McClure and Ciaran White kicked astutely, using the wind well, and putting the defence on the back foot. Buoyed by the territorial progress, the Stewartry tackled harder forcing mistakes from Newton Stewart.
The set piece began to dominate. The Stewartry scrum, especially the front row of Andrew Boden, Paddy Traynor and Murray McKenzie was dominant, securing their own ball and winning the ball against the head with ease. The lineout also worked well for them, especially the short throw. With this new possession the lack of practice between White and McClure at half back was exposed and the outside backs got little ball to run with.
What progress the Stewartry did make came from the pick and go, with Zac Hunter, McKenzie, Rory Sinclair and Alexander all making telling runs. When the Stewartry got support to the rucks they made good ground with this one out tactic, White finally crossing for a well deserved try.
For the next quarter the Stewartry continued in the same vein, making good progress when they held on to the ball, but on too many occasions Newton Stewart picked up loose ball, or stole it from unattended rucks, and used their superior backs to outflank the tiring Stewartry lines.
In some cases, desperate cover defence from Fraser Gibson, Dalrymple and Euans Connor and Young saved the day, but in others the energy faded away and Newton Stewart scored easily.
At the final whistle, the Stewartry were upset with themselves for starting too slowly, running out of steam and not making the most of several other scoring chances in the second half. Congratulations must go to a well drilled Newton Stewart team who were deserved winners.