LOCAL DERBY A ‘CLIFF-HANGER’ TO THE LAST KICK
The ‘local derby’ promised to be close – and it didn’t disappoint. Saints game last week was postponed and they were hoping to follow their win over Stewarts Melville on 16th Oct to stay in 2nd place of league. The visitors in 5th were equally keen to boost their promotion prospects.The 12.30pm kick-off hadn’t deterred supporters. Park Farm drew its largest crowd in years. Conditions were surprisingly good after days of heavy rain. A firm pitch, light breeze and clear sky boosted hopes for a great afternoon.
Both sides were fired up and opening play was lively – but with the sun and wind behind them, Newton Stewart slightly dominated early possession and territory. Saints held out with resolute defending – but the visitors took a lead after 10 minutes when they cracked the home defence for a try on the right. The conversion attempt missed. Saints forwards responded strongly and took the initiative with powerful rucking to threaten the opponents line. Several promising drives fell short before Rory Cockburn drove over to open Saints account with a try (uncoverted) after 25 min. Newton Stewart completed the first-half with a penalty before the interval to lead 5pts to 8.
Newton Stewart increased their lead after the interval to 5-11 with a 45th minute penalty, but Saints again showed determination and continued to press the visitors. It paid off when they opened up for Andrew Whiteford to outstrip the opposition defence – breaking a series of tackles – to notch up Saints 2nd try after 60 minutes. Jack Johnstone converted to make the score a ‘nail-biting’ 12pts to 11 for Saints.
Play stopped for serious visitor injury
The game was physical and both squads were ‘showing signs of wear’. With 15 minutes left, play halted for a serious injury (possible broken leg) to one of the visitors. He couldn’t be moved and an ambulance was called. At that stage of the game, Newton Stewart could agree to stopping the game with the score standing or to transfer to the adjoining pitch. They chose the latter – hoping for a score to take them back into a lead.
Tension mounted with the restart and game in the balance. Saints missed a 65th min penalty that should have tied up the score for them – only for the lead to change yet again when with 10 minutes to go the visitors kicked a penalty to nudge them ahead by 14 pts to 12. It’s not over until the final whistle and Saints were awarded a penalty in the final seconds. Jack Steele accepted the kicking duties and to huge local relief slotted it home for a final score of 15-14 with the last kick of the game.
Final score Dumfries Saints 15 – Newton Stewart 14
Saints are 2nd in the league and travel next week for a major showdown with leaders Glasgow GHK. The game offers two challenges. With the Scottish International against Australia at Murrayfield on Sat 6th Nov the Saints match is on Friday evening (ko 7.45pm) and it will be played under floodlights.