Newton Stewart

LOCAL RUGBY DERBY A ‘CLIFF-HANGER’ TO THE LAST KICKThe ‘local derby’ between the South of Scotland’s top two sides promised to be close – and it didn’t disappoint. With last week’s game postponed Saints looked to follow their win over Stewarts Melville on 16th Oct to stay in 2nd place of league. The visitors (5th) were equally keen for a win 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 raised hopes for a great afternoon. With both sides fired up, opening play was lively.

Newton Stewart with the sun and wind behind them just dominated early possession and territory. Saints held them out with resolute defending – but the visitors broke through for the opening try (unconverted) after 10 minutes to lead 5-0. Saints responded strongly with powerful rucking to threaten the opponents line. Several promising drives fell short before Rory Cockburn drove over after 25 min to open Saints’ account with an uncoverted try (score 5-5). The visitors rounded-off the first-half scoring with 2nd penalty before the interval for a lead of 5pts to 8.

Another Newton Stewart penalty soon after the break increased their lead to 5-11. Saints again showed determination and continued to press hard. As play opened out, Andrew Whiteford outstripped 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.

Serious injury halts play

With 15 minutes left, play halted in midfield when a visiting player was serious injured. He couldn’t be moved and an ambulance was called. Newton Stewart had the choice of abandoning the game with the score standing or transferring play to the adjoining pitch. They chose the latter – hoping for a score to take them back into a lead.

Tension mounted after the restart. Saints missed a 65th min penalty that should have tied up the result – only for the lead to change again. With 10 minutes to go the visitors kicked a penalty to nudge ahead by 14 pts to 12. With the game ‘on a knife edge’, Saints won a penalty in the final seconds. Saints captain Jack Steele bravely stepped forward and to huge local relief slotted home the last kick of the game for a final score of 15-14.

Final score Dumfries Saints 15 – Newton Stewart 14

Saints, 2nd in the league, travel next week for a vital showdown with leaders Glasgow GHK. The game offers distinct challenges. Scotland are playing Australia at Murrayfield on Sat 6th Nov. so the Saints match is on Friday evening (k.o. 7.45pm) and it will be played under floodlights.Saints are 2nd in the league and travel next week for a major showdown with leaders Glasgow GHK. The game offers distinct challenges. With the Scotland facing Australia at Murrayfield on Sat 6th Nov. the Saints match is on Friday 5th (evening k.o. 7.45pm). It will be played under floodlights.