STUART RUTHERFORD @ Myreside
A last gasp try from Keith Young gave Watsonians a spectacular win in a simply breath-taking encounter at Myreside. It had looked as though Ayr were going to close out a tough win to maintain their position on top of the Premiership table, but Marcus DiRollo’s men had other plans and crashed the party with the last touch of the ball.
The first action of the afternoon went the way of the home side. After a powerful break from winger Mark Bertram the ball was eventually recycled and fed out wide to Tom Hart. The centre looked to have made a clever offload for the oncoming McFarland, however the pass was deemed forward.
The game ebbed and flowed in the midfield, with both sides struggling to break their opponent’s gain line, until the contest sprung into life after brilliant work from Reiss Cullen. The sniping scrum-half showed his prowess when he turned a half break into the game’s first score. After dummying round the edge of a ruck, he did fantastically to shake off a half tackle before offloading to the supporting Sean Crombie. After linking up with Angus Duckett the ball was eventually popped to DJ Innes. The outside-centre strolled under the posts to give the home side the early lead.
Watsonian’s continued their early dominance and doubled their lead only minutes later. Again Cullen was at the heart of the attack when he gained 30 metres from an instinctive quick tap penalty. The scrum half chipped the ball to the Ayr five metre line, where visiting full-back Grant Anderson got down well to collect. However, the fullback was immediately turned over by the host’s mobile pack, and after several pick-and-goes the ball was fed out to Duckett on the blindside wing. The kiwi flanker did superbly to barge over the whitewash to extend the home side’s advantage. Andrews Chalmers missed the tricky conversion, but nonetheless, it was a deserved 10-0 lead.
Chalmers extended his team’s lead when he nailed a lengthy penalty, but Ayr muscled their way back into the clash only moments later. After sloppy play from Watsonians, the ball was eventually cleared but it was a poor kick and it was easily collected by Craig Gossman. The winger, who at times looks more like a 200 metre sprinter, had only one idea and that was to run it back. After making it past one defender, Gossman turned on the burners before he was eventually taken down in the home side’s twenty two. The ball was then quickly fed through Ayr’s back-line before it eventually landed in the hands of Richard Dalgliesh. The winger beat his opposite man on the outside and dived over in the corner to put the league leaders right back in this fiery encounter.
It looked as though it would be the home side’s half when Chalmers’ second penalty of the afternoon popped over via the cross bar, however a late score from Blair Macpherson meant there would be only four points in it at half-time. The try came after good work from the visitors’ pack. After several pick and goes the ball was fed to Danny McCluskey. The stand-off immediately hit Macpherson on an inside line and from short yardage the number eight was virtually unstoppable.
As the home side trudged off the pitch for half-time there was an air of confusion at how the score was so close.
The late score clearly gave the visitors a lift as they started the second half with a newly found air of confidence. Calum Forrester’s side made several eye catching breaks and it appeared only a matter of how, not when, they were going to score. Then the wind was taken out of their sails when McCluskey went down with, what appeared to be, a serious injury. There was a ten minute break in play before the second row was stretchered off the park to a rousing applause.
Unperturbed by that set-back, the visitors scored only moments after play resumed. Following a lineout on the Watsonians’ five metre line, Stafford McDowall hit a short line and gained several valuable yards. There was a handful of pick-and-goes before the ball eventually found itself in the hands of Djustice Sears-Duru. The wonderfully named prop powered over from a metre out to give the visitors the lead.
Another penalty from Chalmers levelled the score at 19-19, but their momentum was cut short when Keith Young found himself in the bin. Undermanned, the capital side went behind once again after a superb individual try from Dalgliesh, who not for the first time showed his willingness to attack, this time with a delightful chip ver his opposite number before collecting and diving in the corner. Anderson missed the resulting penalty and the score was left at 19-24.
Chalmers and Anderson swapped penalties to set up a grandstand finish. With time running out and Watsonians trapped inside their own half it appeared that Ayr were going to sneak home with a hard fought victory, however Watsonians’ never say die attitude had been on show all afternoon and it was evident they weren’t done just yet.
After a broken period of play where the home side struggled to make yards, the ball was eventually thrown out wide to Mark Bertram. The winger, who had had a quiet outing so far, suddenly burst into action by beating his man and charging 50 metres into the visitors’ 22. The electric break acted as a spark plug for the home crowd and they were now in full voice. Watsonians were on the cusp and with every pick-and-go you could sense the rowdy home support’s excitement growing. Eventually the ball was recycled to Young on the right wing and he dived for the corner, planting the ball with one hand, to tie the score at 27-27.
It was now all down to the conversion and up-stepped Ali Harris. You could hear a pin drop as the replacement approached the kick and with a swing of his left boot the ball sailed over the uprights to give Watsonians the unlikeliest of wins.
Watsonians: K Young; M Bertram, D Innes, T Hart, M McFraland; A Chalmers, R Cullen; M Christie(c), S Crombie, C Eastwood, M Poole, C Borthwick, D Dee, A Duckett, E Dods. Subs: N Cochrane, D Miller, D Keenan, V Fihaki, E McKirdy, A Harris.
Ayr: G Anderson(c); R Dalgliesh, A Russell, S McDowall, C Gossman; D McCluskey, D Armstrong; D Sears-Duru, R Smith, S Longwell, R McAlipine, S Sutherland, G Hunter, R Mackenzie, B Macpherson. Subs: D Young, C Stevenson, P McCallum, P Dewhirst, J Bova.
Referee: Mike Adamson
Watsonians: Tries: Innes, Duckett, Young; Cons: Harris Pens: Chalmers (4)
Ayr: Tries: Dalgliesh (2), MacPherson, Sears-Duru; Cons: Anderon (2) Pens: Anderson
Scoring sequence (Watsonians first): 5-0 10-0 13-0 13-5 16-5 16-12 (HT) 16-19 19-19 19-24 19-27 22-27 29-27
Yellow cards –
Watsonians: K Young
Man of the match: Angus Duckett had an exceptional game in the back row. The ex-Selkirk man finished the game with a score but his real worth was at the breakdown, where he excelled all afternoon.
Talking point: Does anyone want to hold onto top spot?