COLIN RENTON @ Myreside
WATSONIANS tightened their grip on a play-off berth with an impressive nine-try showing against a Hawick side that started well but were ultimately outclassed. Indeed, had the hosts been more disciplined in the closing minutes, it could have been worse for the Borderers.
“We lost our shape a bit at the end and we weren’t as ruthless as we might have been”, admitted Watsonians coach Steve Lawrie. “But I was pleased with that. It’s an important result for us.”
While the pre-match chat had been largely about Hawick’s absentees, the hosts also had several men missing. Lawrie was pleased with the way his stand-ins performed, adding, “I thought Andrew Chalmers in particular controlled the game well at 10. We have a bit of depth in our squad. We have competition and that’s the main thing.”
The Borderers went into the match in fine fettle after a recent run of favourable results that had moved them towards mid-table safety. And they roared from the blocks with a try in the first minute by Ross Combe, who sprinted in from 60 metres.
The home side were stung into action and rallied with five unanswered tries to kill off the match as a contest by half-time. The first of that handful came in six minutes, when DJ Innes and Michael Allen combined to send Jason Harries in at the corner. Ali Harris banged over the conversion to put Watsonians into a lead they were never in danger of losing.
Allen was also the supplier for Rory Steele, who darted in for try number two. Harris missed with the conversion attempt, but was back on target a couple of minutes later when he added the extras after Rory Drummond had finished off another slick move.
With only 15 minutes played, the race was already on for the bonus-point score. And it took less than 10 minutes to materialise. Harries was held up over the line, but from the scrum Craig Borthwick thundered over. Harris again converted, and he did so for a fourth time after Innes did the spadework for Michael Fedo to claim the next score.
Hawick ended the half with a spell in the ascendancy but failed to add to their tally, and already they looked to have acknowledged that their winning run was over. That was confirmed within a couple of minutes of the restart when a combination of Mark Bertram’s strength and some lacklustre Hawick tackling saw the home winger claim try number six, with Harris again converting.
Hawick were offering little resistance at this stage and Willie Thomson bagged try number seven. Things got worse for the visitors when Combe was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle. In the aftermath of that, Darren Miller crossed the whitewash, and the rut was complete when Harries topped and tailed the Watsonians scoring with try number nine.
Watsonians: R Steele; M Bertram, M Allen, D Innes, J Harries; A Chalmers, A Harris; N Fraser, R Graham, N Borel, E Dods, C Borthwick, R Drummond, G Nelson, M Fedo. Subs: D Miller, F Hobbis, R Wilson, J Miller, W Thomson.
Hawick: M Tait; R Combe, C Ritson, D Buckley, L Ferguson; K Brunton, G Munro; S Muir, F Renwick, R Macleod, D Redpath, C Hamilton, R Gibson, A Baillie, B McNeil. Subs: M Carryer, M Landels, D Cowan, C Renwick, G Welsh.
Scorers: Watsonians: Tries: Harries 2, Allen, Drummond, Borthwick, Fedo, Bertram, Thomson, D Miller. Cons: Harris 5, Chalmers 2.
Hawick: Try: Combe.
Scoring sequence (Watsonians first): 0-5, 5-5, 7-5, 12-5, 17-5, 19-5, 24-5, 26-5, 31-5, 33-5 half-time, 38-5, 40-5, 45-5, 47-5, 52-5, 54-5, 59-5.
Yellow card: Combe
Referee: L Linton.
Man of the match: The Watsonians centres enjoyed supremacy in the midfield throughout the 80 minutes, but the powerful running of DJ Innes saw him edge out his colleague Michael Allen to take the accolade.
Talking point: With no sign of the Watsonians challenge losing momentum, and Hawick now back in the relegation dogfight, it is set to be an intriguing finale at both ends of the BT Premiership table.