MATT VALLANCE @ Millbrae
WATSONIANS produced their best display of the season so far in this six-try demolition of an out-of-sorts Ayr. Such was the visitors’ dominance from start to finish, a casual observer might have thought the BT Premiership table was upside down, with the lower-ranked side comfortably in charge. The Myreside club are still down in seventh place, but are now just five points out of the play-off places, the last of which is still occupied by Ayr.
The visiting pack took an immediate grip on proceedings, and in six minutes a well-executed driving maul was rewarded with a try by hooker Ross Graham, converted, as each subsequent touch-down would be, by Andrew Chalmers.
The full-back extended his side’s lead with an 18th-minute penalty after Ayr illegally halted another advancing maul. But two minutes later Ayr finally put together a spot of pressure, and, on the back of an advancing maul, Frazier Climo darted down the narrow side and over between the posts to give Scott Lyle a simple conversion.
Six minutes later, against the run of play, Ayr went in front, when skipper Pete McCallum picked up a ball which the visitors left unattended at the back of a ruck, before sprinting away for an unconverted try. Ayr then got a break from the referee when he disallowed an Andrew Chalmers “try” for an earlier high tackle on Climo, awarding Ayr a penalty.
But the Edinburgh side would not be denied for long, and centre Rory Hutton danced through some insipid tackling for a try which Chalmers converted to restore the visitors’ lead. Chalmers then added a penalty, and at the interval Watsonians led 20-12.
The second half made painful viewing for the home fans as Watsonians added four converted tries. Rory Drummond got the first two, breenging through three tackles to complete a great period of continuity rugby from his side, in 45 minutes, before being left with a simpler run-in after a similar spell of great go-forward rugby, in 61 minutes.
With Ayr’s ambition spiked, the visitors added two further tries in the final 15 minutes, Ally Davidson getting both tries, with Chalmers, whose sparking run up the wing laid-on the first try for Davidson, continuing to add the extras.
“I’m proud of the boys,” Watsonians coach Steve Lawrie said. “Tthat was not like Ayr today, but we took charge and never let them into the game. We’ll need to raise our game again next week when we face Melrose, however I’ve got to be happy with that display.”
Man of the match Rory Drummond shared his coach’s joy. “We’ve been building towards that type of display for a week or two, so it was good to get a solid 80 minutes in,” he said. “We know it will be equally hard against Melrose next week, but we’re in a good place.”
Unsurprisingly, home captain Pete McCallum was altogether less happy with his team’s display. “We never took control at any time, and, in spite of being off the pace, we were happy with the half-time score,” he said. “However, in the second half we couldn’t get any ball and couldn’t build momentum. We’ll need to regroup ready for Boroughmuir, which will be another hard game, next Saturday.”
Ayr: B Thomson; S Lyle, D McCluskey, F Climo, C Gossman; P Dewhurst, H Warr; G Hunter, L Anderson, A Prentice; J Agnew, S Sutherland; T Spinks, G Stokes, P McCallum. Substitutes: D Young, R Hislop, B Macpherson, J Bova, G Anderson..
Watsonians: A Chalmers; K Young, R Hutton, D Innes, A Davidson; E Fox, A Harris; N Fraser, R Graham, K Whyte; J Hodgson, C Borthwick; R Drummond, J Miller, E Dods. Substitutes: S Crombie, N Borel, M Fedo, W Thomson, J Harrison.
Scorers: Ayr: Tries: Climo, P McCallum; Conversion: Lyle.
Watsonians: Tries: Graham, Hutton, Drummond 2, Davidson 2. Conversions: Chalmers 6. Penalties: Chalmers 2.
Scoring sequence (Ayr first): 0-5, 0-7, 0-10, 5-10, 7-10, 12-10, 12-15, 12-17, 12-20 half-time, 12-25, 12-27, 12-32, 12-34, 12-39, 12-41, 12-46, 12-48.
Referee: G Wells.
Man of the Match: It has to go to one of Watsonians’ dominant pack, with two-try Rory Drummond just pipping Euan Dods for the honour.
Talking point: After a slow start to the season, Watsonians have found some impressive form and are now closing in on the play-off places. Can they continue their rise against Melrose at Myreside on Friday?