Primary (P1-P7) | 31st Jan 2023
Sunday morning saw the Stewartry Sharks mini section travel to Park Farm, home of Dumfries Saints for a return match up following November’s encounter at Greenlaw. Annan also travelled across to enable a series of matches across the age groups.
The P7 Sharks were up first, pitched against a well-motivated Dumfries team looking to settle the scores following defeat at the hands of the Sharks team in their last match. And it was indeed the home side who gained the upper hand early on – dominating the contact area and opening up gaps in the Stewartry defence to go two tries up. However, Stewartry woke up and hit back with tries from Lily and Murray, showing the pace and running lines characteristic of the team. Good Dumfries ball retention in attack and resolute Stewarty defence kept the scores even until half time, with fierce competition all across the pitch. The second half followed a similar pattern to the first, with Dumfries managing their rucking game well, enabling them to score a number of tries and stretch the lead again, before Stewartry hit back again. However, it was too much of an uphill battle for the Sharks team and they were eventually defeated 6-4, in large part to the dominant breakdown work put in by the Dumfries team. It was a great contest overall, with two well matched teams duking it out with enthusiasm and skill, and we’re all looking forward to the next time these two teams meet.
In the second match, the P7 Sharks took to the field to face an Annan team featuring some very physical strike runners, complemented with some Dumfries players to bolster their numbers and make it an even contest. However, Stewartry got into their stride straightaway, with slick hands down the line allowing Freddie to show his pace to go over for the first score. At the subsequent re-start, the Sharks defence went to work, with Ciaran, Cameron, Jacob and Zander putting in excellent tackles allowing opportunities for Lily to counter-ruck and gain multiple turnovers. With so much ball, the free-running Sharks players got into their stride, with Matthew, Rory and Jack creating breaks and great handling from the whole team allowing a slew of tries for the Sharks. Despite the feast of tries already being offered up by the Sharks, the best of the bunch was about to be witnessed by the crowd. The Annan team had broken through the defence and were poised to score in the corner, but were bundled into touch by some valiant last ditch tackling, resulting in a turnover to Stewartry on their own goal line. From the tap, and into a strong headwind, Murray’s clearing kick was hunted down by Will who gathered and then stepped one, another, and then another before putting in a lung-busting effort to keep going and score a wonderful solo try to the cheers of the appreciative spectators.
The second half kicked off, this time with the wind behind the Sharks, and once more the strong tackling and physical competition at the breakdown gave Stewartry a plethora of opportunities to score, resulting in tries for Rory, Matthew, Lily, Ciaran and a brace for Calum (his first two tries for the Sharks). Credit to Annan, who despite tiring after playing two matches on the bounce kept at it, and were rewarded with two tries from some powerful route 1 running, to supplement a well worked try in the first half. The match finished with a convincing win for the P7 Sharks. It was a great team performance which everyone contributed to, both defensively and in attack.
The P6 sharks went into their mini-tournament with two Dumfries teams and an Annan team to compete against. There was some trepidation in the P6 squad prior to kick-off following a bruising encounter against a very strong Dumfries team back in November. However, what a difference a few months make! They tackled their hearts out, fronting up to a powerful Dumfries team who struggled to penetrate the brave Stewartry defence with Ewan, Mitch, Aiden and Sam picking off their runners allowing Tyler, Henry, Alec, Gregor and others to get on the offensive and put pressure on the home team. It was back and forth for the majority of the match, and it was only after sustained pressure that the home team managed to get across the line, running out 2-0 victors following a couple of late tries scored by their fast men out wide.
The second game was against the second Dumfries P6 team and once again, the P6 Sharks pulled up their socks and competed well, though again lost narrowly. In their third and final match Stewartry faced Annan and brought more of their attacking game to bear, scoring a series of tries to take a well-deserved and very satisfying victory.
All in all, despite the arctic winds howling across the Doonhamer tundra freezing some of the kids to the core, the P6/7 Sharks teams played incredibly well – showing their skills, commitment and determination. The parents and coaches could not be prouder of all their efforts, both individually and collectively, and we look forward to travelling to Carrick next weekend. Thanks to Dumfries for hosting the event and all the players from all the teams playing.
Match Report by Ralph Spernagal