I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”  Abraham Lincoln.

Watching the players out there, in the rain and cold, you felt that each man was “worker-hard” not just for his own success but for those of his teammates too, indeed the Club as a whole! For every Accie supporter who braved the conditions to come along and support the boys was surely treated to what was probably our best performance of the season and well worth any climatic “discomfort”..

Newton Stewart are always up for the fray and today was no exception. They put Accies under real pressure in the first 5 minutes of the match and but for the very difficult kicking conditions, could have been 6 points up. However, the Accies front 8 began to get on top towards the end of the first quarter with some ferocious defence and good work at the breakdown. Loomsy used this possession well to pin the opposition back into their 22 and though his first attempt at goal went wide, he slotted his second to make the score 3-0 after 15 minutes. This penalty resulted in Newton Stewarts No7 being yellow carded by the ref for repeated infringement.

It was then the turn of the Accies backs to shine a bit and after good pressure on the Newton Stewart breakdown, the ball ended up in the welcoming hands of the Doctor, who then proceeded to use some cute skills to firstly chip the rushing defensive line, and then beat a couple of defenders to the chase as the ball bobbled over their try line. A great try then that livened up the hardly souls in the stand no end, though curiously today, the reaction of Bryden Snr was somewhat sanguine!. The conversion from Loomsy followed and on 23 mins, we were 10 – 0 up.

Despite the atrocious conditions, with a wet ball and cold hands, Accies piled on the pressure and stuck to their “15-man” game plan. The forwards were carrying the ball effectively, the backs created space. Perhaps through sheer frustration, the Bladenoch Boys continued to rack up the infringement count and nobody was really that surprised when their 4 was meted out a second yellow just as they’d got back up to a full compliment.

Accies were, by this stage, pretty much in control of things and took full advantage of their numerical superiority: from a series of moves and quick interplay, CalDal collected the ball and scampered over for what was a well-deserved try, for once again our very own pocket dynamo never stopped all day. Loomsy was successful with the conversion, so on the half-hour mark we were 17-0 up.

The final 10 minutes of the first half saw us pretty much spend all our time hammering at the NS line – and it’s a credit to their boys that they held us out for as long as they did. But a successful penalty from Loomsy kept the scoreboard ticking over and then, just as the half was drawing to a conclusion, a superb try from Ross in the right hand corner gave us all “reasons to be cheerful”!. The best kick of the day then followed from our 10 and we went into the break 27-0 up.

You always know that Newton Stewart are never going to lie down and let you run all over them and so it proved at the start of the second half. Galvanised by words of wisdom from their coach during the interval, they threw everything they had at Accies. But every player in blue & white proved that the hard work that has been done on defensive drills paid off – one after another the opposition ball carrier was put to ground and NS struggled to get beyond the gain line.

The game did struggle a bit in the second half however and Accies started to make a few errors, spilling balls (Ooo, er, Vicar!) and letting overlaps go a-begging. But in fairness, that was largely due to the conditions which continued to be poor, rather than any lack of positive endeavour from our lads. We were still playing the majority of the rugby in the opposition half however and regularly inside their 22, but our own infringement count was building and it was our turn to give away a number of penalties.

On 60 mins the ref had had enough and he once again brandished his “yellow” – in fairness, we all knew it was coming – the only question was, who was going to get it! As it so happened, it was Sam’s turn to be sent to the naughty-step and even though he trudged off muttering antipodean expletives (even Emma was blushing!!), he took his medicine. The Accies pack held on manfully however and despite the loss of one of our stand out performers, kept the pressure on the NS.

Timely changes were made to our personnel as the last quarter started – Ross was replaced by Brad and Fraser slipped into centre with Broonie making a welcome return to go onto the wing. The front row, which had lost DC earlier to (reportedly) a broken fingernail after just 5 minutes, shuffled a bit with Ker coming on for Jason, Ross took a rest (and a bow) to be replaced by Brad, and Fraser went to outside in his place. Shortly afterwards, Loomsy left the field after a somewhat dubious tackle and was replaced by Stewart. Now all these changes can disrupt a side’s rhythm but that was not the case today. It’s great to have not just a starting 15 but a squad of players all “up for it” and our replacements did themselves proud – and back we went into the NS half for a 10 min spell of concerted pressure.

A lineout just inside the opposition 22 on the far side saw Ritchie take a superb catch at the tail and as he hit the deck, he delivered a beautiful soft pass to the supporting Hem: the boy doesn’t need to be asked twice and over he went by the posts: 34-0.

I have watched many games with Newton Stewart and know what they are capable of. Perhaps realising that the game was now beyond their reach they seemed to “relax” and so produced some of their best rugby . Their forwards rumbled up, and their backs began to run “training ground” moves without concern for the outcome. And it paid off for them, for after a good 7 or 8 minutes of possession in our 22, they went over in our corner: 34-5

With only a few minutes to go, the thoughts of the crowd were turning to beer and the warmth of the Clubhouse but Stewart, quite clearly, had other ideas. With good lineout ball won, a gap in the defensive line opened up: even though 30 metres out, he ran like a scalded cat, outstripped the tiring cover defence and scored a great individual try. And even if he did blot his copybook a bit with the butchered conversion attempt, it gave us all a nice warm glow and a 39pts to 5 victory as the final whistle sounded. Even The Admiral had little to complain about!

M.O.T.M. This was a tough one this week because as I said at the start, every player was playing for his team. The back row were superb, individually and as a unit, and the half backs controlled the game. The centres and back 3 worked hard for each other and everyone who played in the front row played their part. However the graft that was put in by the front 5 was just great to witness all game, both in attack and defence. Taking the honours this week then, and the well deserved plaudits, is one of their number: our MOTM is Mr Richie Corless.

REF WATCH: Adam Hart from Helensburgh – remember the name folks, cos chances are you’ll be hearing it again. Though his was not a completely flawless performance, this was a ref who was a) continually up with play, b) communicated continuously and positively with the players throughout and c) CONSISTENTLY refereed the game, particularly at the breakdown. Nobody, and I mean nobody, from either side could have any genuine complain about Mr. Hart’s performance yesterday: he was in control and yet he let things flow, despite the conditions. And that’s not easy especially in the wind and the rain. We’ve never, ever done this before but it’s a “Big 9” for Mr Hart for his performance. And deservedly so.

Next week folks, it’s back to league duty, we’re playing host to Lenzie and a lunch is planned too. There’s always room at-the-Inn for a few more, so if you’d like to join the “glitterati” for a very reasonably priced, slap-up feed, get in touch with anyone on the Committee. And please note everyone, it’s a 1.30pm KO. Pundy, have you got that?

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