National One: Watsonians clinch last-gasp win over Stirling County Wolves

Melrose stay top of the table with hard fought win at Boroughmuir, while Highland's victory over Kelso keeps them third

Chris Bell kicks for Watsonians
Chris Bell kicks the winnning points for Watsonians against Stirling County Wolves. Image: Graham Gaw

CAPTAIN Chris Bell kept his nerve to kick a last gasp penalty to give Watsonians a thrilling 30-29 win over Stirling County Wolves at Myreside in Tennent’s National League Division One on Saturday.

The home side went into the game having lost at Melrose the week before, but started strongly and were 22-12 up at the interval. County battled back and led 29-27 heading into the dying stages before Bell’s late intervention, but the visitors did at least take two bonus points back to Bridgehaugh for their troubles.

Kresimir Coric, Harry Fisher, Alexander Begg and Jamie Stephen scored tries for Watsonians with Kerr Stoddart adding point with the boot along with Bell. County’s tries came from Keir Singleton (2), Charlie Dineen, Craig Robertson and Harry Henderson, with Robertson kicking two conversions. The result puts Watsonians sixth in the table and County seventh.

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Top of the tree is still Melrose after they dogged out a 15-5 win at Boroughmuir. The Borderers fourth win of the campaign came at Meggetland after leading 7-5 at the break and then battling hard in the second period to get home.

Lewis Mallin bagged one of Melrose’s two tries while Donald Crawford kicked five points, with the real downside for the visitors being a couple of injuries. Gavin Welsh scored Boroughmuir’s only points.

Highland are second to Melrose in the standings and also on 19 points after a tight away win themselves. They made the long trip to Kelso and with the hosts clearly hurting from the previous week’s thumping at Cartha they really took the game to Highland.

Indeed, Kelso were 19-5 up at the break with the Inverness side having only a Hugo Crush try to show for their efforts. Dave Carson’s men are made of stern stuff, though, and three tries in the second half –  including a second for Crush and one each from Lewis Sinclair and debutant lock Andrew Simpson –  gave them the bonus point 27-26 triumph. Despite the defeat, Kelso can take plenty from the way they battled here.

“Granted we won again, but when we come to play better teams in much worse weather, we might not be able to come back into contention in heavy going,” said a slightly exasperated Carson afterwards. “I have always said we are going to have to move up a gear if we are to survive in this new environment, but in fairness we rose to the challenge of a Border side who were keen to erase the memory of 98 point hammering the week before.”

Carson had no time for the suggestion that the five hour bus journey from Inverness to Kelso  could justify his team’s slow start. “I thought we were mentally and even physically prepared, but clearly we were not. It’s something we’ll be addressing next week in training,” he added.

The coach did, however, have some praise for prop Sean Murray. “If the rest of the team had started the game like him, the game would have been out of side by halftime, as it we remain undefeated, but can’t expect to stay that away if we continue to start as poorly as we did today.”

Heriot’s Blues are in third and they have now scored 206 points in just four games after an 80-27 triumph over Cartha at Goldenacre. The first half was an end-to-end affair with the Edinburgh side leading 26-20 after 40 minutes. Then, after the interval, the Blues stepped things up a gear to come out on top convincingly with Cameron Lineen and John Rae leading the way by scoring a hat-trick each for Phil Smith’s men.

Cartha did not even get the consolation of heading back to Dumbreck without a bonus point. Their three tries coming from Ewan Campbell, Ryan Flett and Max PriestlyGraeme Docherty kicked the rest of the points.

Biggar are in fourth and building up nicely after a 24-21 win at Gala. Mark Bertram, Euan Sanderson, Robbie Orr and Chris Milligan all scored tries for the visitors at Netherdale with Conor Lavery slotting two conversions.

Simon Fairbairn’s try and a penalty by Dean Keddie had put Gala 8-0 up early on, but they could not hold ono the advantage despite also being 21-17 up at one point.

Like Biggar, Ayr now have three wins and 15 points after defeating Dundee HSFP at Millbrae. Seth Rae, Jamie Bova and skipper Gregor Henry scored tries and James Armstrong kicked two conversions as Ayr led 19-3 at half-time.

Johnny McCorkindale grabbed the bonus point try for Ayr and Bova and Rae both went on to score their seconds, before Scott Clelland completed the 45-18 triumph.

National League Division One results –

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Table as it stands –

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About Gary Heatly 457 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.