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P7 Match Report – Dumfries/Dalziel – 02/04/2023

Club News | 6th Apr 2023

Sunday saw another trip to Park Farm, home of Dumfries Saints, to compete in a mini tournament with the home side, and the touring Dalziel Dragons, from Motherwell.

It was perfect conditions for playing, with the Dumfries pitches dry and firm despite all the recent rain, and weather conditions set fair for spectators to enjoy the competition.

Following the opening fixture between Dumfries and Dalziel, the Stewartry team took to the pitch to face Dumfries.  Stewartry kicked off, with Dumfries immediately gathering the ball and getting on the front foot and building phases of possession, using their well-drilled rucking game to recycle the ball and spread it to their fast players on the wing.  The pressure told, with Dumfries going over for the opening try.  This seemed to spur the Stewartry players into action, with strong runs from Matthew, Zander and Annie taking the game to Dumfries despite strong home defence.  Eventually, the ball was swung away from the breakdown area to find bit of space for Alex to use his gas to streak through a gap and get across for the leveller.  Galvanised by the score, Stewartry raised their physical game, tackling hard and forcing a turnover from Dumfries in the next phase of play and again advancing up the pitch with excellent off loading and keeping the ball alive, with Annie in particular running great support lines to keep moving forward.  Once again it was Alex who benefitted from the hard yards made by Ciaran, Lily and Zander, finding a gap out wide and crossing to take the lead.  The game then went back and forth, with defences staying on top of the attacking intent and it was only at the end of the match that Dumfries found a levelling score, despite valiant defence from the Stewartry team. A draw was a fair result for a compelling physical contest.

Next up was a new opponent, Dalziel Dragons, with some hulking specimens taking the field and immediately went on the offensive.  However, good tackling from Sam, Olivia, Lily and Cameron allowed counter-rucking and good hands and mazy running allowed tries to come from Rory, Annie, Alex and Alfie, and whilst Dalziel attacked strongly, getting a couple of tries, the Stewartry defensive effort was excellent and kept the pacy wingers well marked, with some ferocious tackles coming in and bundling players into touch short of the line.  The match ended with a scoreline which flattered Stewartry, but was very even throughout.

The third match was again against Dalziel, who were starting to flag after playing three on the bounce.  Stewartry, after some words of wisdom from guest coach Ieuan, stepped up their defensive efforts, and working as a team were able to harry and disrupt the opposition, pushing them back and forcing turnovers to allow them to attack again.  However, Dalziel did not give up and fought back, attacking down the right and only just being forced out, just short of the line.  From the resulting line out, Murray launched a howitzer clearing kick downfield and the team set off in wild pursuit, with Charlie making up a huge amount of ground to win the race for the bouncing ball, keeping his composure to hack it on (twice) and diving like Duhan to score a spectacular coast-to-coast effort.  With tails up, and the team all pushing their defensive efforts as a team, more tries followed, with Ciaran zipping up the left wing and stepping neatly inside the cover defence to score, and Olivia getting on the end of a series of passes and scoring in the right corner.  Charlie got on the scoreboard again, with a neat interception.  Dalziel were not to be left scoreless though, and their positivity was rewarded with a scorcher of a try from their left winger, using excellent pace to outflank the Stewartry defence.  Another good win for Stewartry.

Book-ending the games was a re-match with Dumfries and both sides went into it with real intent, with Dumfries power runners being scythed down by Stewartry defenders enabling good breakdown work to turn over possession and go on the offensive.  Dumfries in turn were defending like lions and repelled the Stewartry attacks, despite Matthew, Alex, Zander and Lily all going close.  Eventually, Dumfries broke the deadlock, crossing the whitewash to go one up.  The brutal physical contest continued for the rest of the match, like two heavyweights going toe-to-toe, but Stewartry found the leveller with Lily using her strength and determination to break tackles and dive over.  With the match building to a climax, the tackling, rucking and physicality displayed by both teams was excellent.  Dumfries found another score, and with the last couple of minutes to go, Stewartry were poised to make one final attack when an unfortunate injury caused the referee to call time on the game.  A tight win for Dumfries.

A wonderful morning of rugby, with all the players supporting each other as a team and really enjoying their day.  A special mention also to Charlie of Newton Stewart who joined the “All Blacks” for the day and fitted in seamlessly.  Thanks to the great referee from Dalziel and to Dumfries for hosting the event.

Match Report by Ralph Spernagel


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