Super Series Sprint: Boroughmuir Bears get better of Southern Knights in basement battle

The visitors have finished well clear of their hosts in fifth place, but the teams will have to meet again in Saturday's play-off

Boroughmuir Bears scored five tries versus Southern Knights. Image: Rob Gray
Boroughmuir Bears scored five tries versus Southern Knights. Image: Rob Gray

Southern Knights 19

Boroughmuir Bears 33

ALAN LORIMER @ The Greenyards

IN what was as dead a rubber as you could possibly find, Southern Knights and Boroughmuir Bears fought out an end-of-term battle knowing that the result would not affect their respective sixth and fifth places in the Super Series Sprint.

If this game failed to sneak into the uplifting category, then fans of these two teams will barely warm to the prospect of watching next Saturday’s play-off game to determine the bottom two positions.

In many ways Southern Knights will want to put this current Sprint Series behind them as quickly as possible. For this match, the Knights could muster a squad of only 22, which is why they were forced into borrowing a player from Heriot’s – centre Zak Smith –  to bring them up to their full quota.

That is a dire situation for any team, but for one that started the campaign less strong than in previous seasons it is difficult to handle. Even so, Knights competed well in the first 40 minutes, going into the interval just two points adrift of the Bears, only to fall apart in the second half with killer errors, as assistant coach Scott Wight acknowledged.

He said: “When you’re playing on the front foot and get turned over it’s dismaying and when the ball goes wide and it’s kicked away that’s not good. Some of the decisions were questionable. We’ve got a team who train well on a Tuesday and Thursday but in a match we just can’t get a performance on the pitch.

“The pack gave us enough go-forward ball to cause damage but then in the second half when we had try-scoring opportunities our line-out falls to pieces. It’s hard and I hate to say it but losing becomes a habit. Until we can find that first win it becomes harder and harder.”

In contrast Boroughmuir Bears committed less foot-shooting and over the piece looked the more competent side, albeit they, too, were guilty of kicking away far too much possession. Overall the performance, however,  was one that didn’t displease head coach Graham Shiel.

“You’ve got two teams in fifth and sixth position both fighting for survival,”  he suggested. “There was some good stuff out there but it was a tousy affair. Overall I thought we controlled possession better, we controlled parts of the pitch at key times and we took our points when they were afforded us. We did give away some soft scores but that’s part of why where we are.”

Boroughmuir Bears showed their intent in the first five minutes with a try from a driving maul finished off by hooker Arthur AllenTom Quinlan’s conversion making it a seven-point score.

Knights quickly countered with a spell of pressure close to the Bears’ line and when the point of attack changed, stand-off Callum Grieve sent out a long cut-out pass to Finn Douglas for the pacy wing to score in the corner.

The home side had barely time to catch breath than Boroughmuir increased their lead with a solo try from Brodie Young, the scrum-half racing through a defensive gap before racing round the last line of defence. Again Quinlan added the extras to put Bears ahead 14-5.

Once more Southern Knights were able to hit back, this time with a penalty try after their attempted driving maul was taken down, resulting in a yellow card for Allen.

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Knights were able to make their extra man count and again it was from good mauling work and close-range drives that opened up space for scrum-half Callum Davidson to nip over for a try, Grieve’s conversion putting Knights into a 19-14 lead.

Then with the interval approaching Allen celebrated his release from the sin-bin with a second try, successfully converted by Quinlan to give the visitors a half-time advantage with at the score at 19-21.

If the first half had suggested a close game then that notion was soon scotched in the second half as Boroughmuir Bears applied accuracy to their endeavours, the first fruit of which was a fine try by in-form Mason Cullen from a long pass by Quinlan, who then further stamped his name on the score with the touchline conversion.

Then, with the game moving into fag-end territory, replacement Callum Ramm supplied much-needed second-half sparkle with a clever run close to the touchline for the final score of a match that will surely not go down as a Greenyards classic.


Teams –

Southern Knights: O Melville; A Cross, Z Smith, A Hall, F Douglas; C Grieve, C Davidson; J Dobie, R Anderson ©, D Gamble, J Campbell, W Hopes, G Young, A Ferrie, R Brown. Substitutes: F Barry, C Greer, E Harrison, E Demirel, C Thompson, R Brand, K Clark, S Derrick.

Boroughmuir Bears: A Scott; M Cullen, A Thom, S Robeson, J Jenkins; T Quinlan, B Young; L Alessandri, A Allen, M Goodwin, J King, J Fisher, L McConnell, S McGinley, K Westlake. Substitutes: J Blyth Lafferty, I Carmichael, M McGinley, S Whittaker, T Andrews, R Swan, G Paul, C Ramm.

Referee: Michael Todd.


Scorers –

Southern Knights: Tries: Douglas, Davidson, Pen try; Con: Grieve.

Boroughmuir Bears: Tries: Allen 2, Young, Cullen, Ramm; Cons: Quinlan 4.

Scoring sequence (Southern Knights first): 0-5, 0-7, 5-7, 5-12, 5-14, 12-14, 17-14, 19-14, 19-19, 19-21 (h-t), 19-26, 19-28, 19-33.


Yellow cards –

Boroughmuir Bears: Allen, Andrews


Man-of-the-Match: Behind a forward pack that became more dominant as the game played out, Boroughmuir’s stand-off Tom Quinlan played a crucial role in guiding his side to victory with confident passing and crucially accurate goal-kicking.

Talking point: Southern Knights will be hoping that they have enough bodies to form a viable squad for next Saturday’s 5th/6th play-off at Meggetland.  Clearly they are playing at sub-optimal performance level, notably through the absence of first-choice centres. As for Boroughmuir Bears, they are playing with more confidence now following a good showing against Watsonians last weekend, but they too will want to end the Sprint season with a performance that can inspire both players and supporters ahead of the Super Series Championship in August.

Super Series Sprint: Heriot’s prevail over Stirling Wolves to book place in final

About Alan Lorimer 359 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.


  1. Angry Gala 2
    It’s here till the money runs out .it’s not sustainable
    Then chaos abounds to sort out Dodsons ‘Folly
    He’ll just bugger off to let others to deal with the fallout

  2. How many spectators were there at Ayr , Goldenacre and at the Bears v Southern this weekend ?
    Can anybody tell me as TOL don’t report it

  3. Spot on Rugby Fan! You’ve certainly hit the nail (oops!) on the head…..

    Surely a win, win, win situation – not least all the way to the bank (and beyond) throughout Scottish rugby (small “r”), a significantly thriving, long-term successful community-based sport, thanks in no small part to the recently highest-remunerated CEO in global rugby and his undoubtedly worthy mostly anonymous acolytes on the SRUL Board, now boosted by a bunch of multi-talented (it says on their tin helmets) “Custodian” assistants, nonentities and carpet-baggers from outer space?

    Not only that, as Iain will certainly attest, the weather in Glocka Morra has been truly memorable each day this season, with unbroken sunshine illuminating our extensive national array of community sports facilities and every sparkling glass at least half-full of SR’s favourite tipple as we reflect upon the benefits of a special Government financial bung amounting in total to £20 million (on top of some £7 million or £8 million additional furlough monies to keep the entire cash-hungry edifice afloat. Hello sailors!!!!)

    More Nirvana than Glocka Morra….

    • Ron, what I do is try and put over another side as no one else seems to have the balls to do so. Following like sheep this mantra that all is dreadful with the National team, the National coach, the SRU, Our CEO, Super 6, Woman’s rugby etc, it is not all bad, it was not all good in the past, in-fact most of our rugby at international level has been appalling. The clubs are not all blameless with what has happened, Mark Dodson is not solely responsible for Super 6. Because I put over another point of view, touch on successes maybe blame others than the SRU for the ills of our game I’m painted as some evangelist for the “ SRU” and what it stands for. Nothing could be further from the truth however someone has to try and bring some balance to the argument.
      On a particular subject of Super 6 I happened to be involved on the Premiership “ board” before and around the time of the inception of Super 6. I saw the ineptitude of our clubs at work, the self interest that prevailed and how Super 6 came about. Maybe someday someone or some club involved at the time might have the balls to actually tell it how it was at the time and how we’ve ended up with Super 6.

      • Cheers, Iain – while modern society increasingly breeds a certain type of uninformed knee-jerk “bar-room” criticsm, you on the other hand frequently make some excellent points, especially in regard to the strangely supine group behaviour and equally selfish attitude of more than a few clubs throughout the system, that has often proved obstructive to genuine progress.

        That said, club managers and administrators are in the main amateurs / volunteers, dealing with numerous pressures, while we must always recognise the domestic reality of rugby in Scotland as a secondary sporting interest, albeit one that has very occasionally risen to extraordinary levels on the international stage, over the years.

      • “Ron, what I do is try and put over another side as no one else seems to have the balls to do so.”

        There you go again insulting others. Making your point is fine. Constantly insulting others devalues anything you say.

  4. The unfortunate fact is that because of long-standing and deep seated resentment against Melrose from the other Borders clubs – the Borders Super 6 franchise will never flourish as long as it is associated with and run by Melrose rugby. When taken alongside the fact the people of Melrose themselves don’t fully support the Knights franchise it is unfortunately doomed to failure , maybe not this year but it can’t continue in its present form.
    Would the franchise be in a better position being underpinned by an alternative Borders club ? that would be interesting to see. Given the mixed levels of support for the previous Borders pro team I have my doubts that any Borders club could gather the required support from their own memberships or the other Borders clubs to make this work.
    Watching the Knights process is like death by 1000 cuts…
    The appointment of Alan Tait has done little to improve the perception of the Knights and the results have simply confirmed the widening gap between the Knights and the other franchises. I assume at some point the SRU will have to face up to the fact that the Knights are not a feasible entity and not a viable return for financial investment from the SRU , however paltry this is…
    That time must be coming because there is very little positivity around the Knights at present. To hear they have had to borrow players from another region over and above their 34 signed players simply confirms the lack of enthusiasm from the Borders.
    I would like to have a solution but unfortunately I don’t but I do recognise when we are flogging a dead horse as will the SRU eventually ….

    • That’s quite possibly one of the key S6 negatives, DeBroon – the potentially harmful, divisive and distracting impact of the concept (as currently constructed) upon what we might view as the “core” clubs.

      The good rugby people of Melrose – of whom there are many – have clearly been demonstrating concern, mostly by voting with their feet in all of this.

  5. AlanJ, quite right. That’s what the SRU wanted to do with 8 teams, the perfect number in my view. However the Premiership clubs rejected that idea. So given that idea was rejected by the clubs what would you now do?
    I will remind you that the Premiership was well funded at the time to improve the standard, improve coaching, improve medical back up and play professional players when requested. Unfortunately not all the clubs did this preferring to bring in foreign mercenaries instead.

  6. How can Shiel claim both teams are fighting for survival? No relegation or pyramid structure so Super 6 will continue in its truncated state as long as the SRU is willing to pump money into it or the franchises walk away.

    • Perhaps he means that like all the other teams these two are fighting the inevitable death of the Plastic Six which like the man who championed it isn’t fit for purpose?

      • You came on here a couple of weeks ago saying the same thing and denying it had anything to do with Dodson. Someone else posted back full details of the meeting when Dodson championed the competition as detailed on this site. You went strangely quiet.

        Now again you attempt to trot out the same old nonsense. You are beginning to sound like Trump denying something which is blatantly true.

        Sorry but you are losing any credibility you had with this nonsense.

    • By all accounts Another dire game Iain .
      You’re trumpeting this shyyte as progress .
      I beg to differ

      • Don’t know what u mean it was a triumph of open flowing rugby with 25000 fans watching and anyone who says otherwise is an ignorant moron who both hates and knows nothing about rugby. All hail Dodson and those who don’t should not be allowed to speak or have an opinion….

      • What do you suggest to bridge the gap between the old Premiership and the pro game. Always happy to listen to criticism but even happier to listen to the solution 😊

      • Dead easy Iain. Pump the money into the Premiership that has been thrown at the Plastic Six. You would support the club game, improve standards and engage the public all at the same time.

        Instead we have this ludicrous non-event desperately hyped-up by those who think the rest of the rugby supporting public are stupid and can’t see it for what it is.

      • Can we have a serious solution Alan? Stop wasting our time and go grumble at the pub.

        Super series is here to stay and it’s raising the bar of scottish Rugby along with it.

      • PerpetuallyAngry – this is a forum where people can post their views. If you can’t understand that I suggest you take your own advice.

      • There is no point in denying that there are currently two premiership clubs “exploring the option” to participate in Super Series rugby in 2024 when the current licenses are up for renewal. I say, good on them.
        I can see why they are interested. The current Premiership offers players a place on an amateur pathway, specifically for talented players who want to play for their local club and or those players who want to try and move upwards and play at a higher level, e.g., Super Series Rugby, with the eventual ambition of playing professional or international rugby.
        District Rugby currently takes them nowhere on this pathway but might or could provide a showcase for a few good players who could move up the rugby pathway.
        Our young players, especially at the U20 level need to be “on task”, with, for example, the best coaching and skills training, and in the gym, as well as playing at the highest level possible.
        In Scotland, in general, at the moment, our young players are not exposed to the required level of conditioning and level of competition.
        In my opinion and experience the Premiership cant offer this but the Super Series will as it will now include young players with the talent to develop, in a rugby environment with the right competitive playing level allied by better coaching and preparation.
        If we don’t develop our base of players at the right level we will continue to fail and sink down the world rankings, as is the current position with our U20s.

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