Southern Knights v Watsonians: visitors make it count when it mattered

Myreside men played 30 minutes with 14 men and were 13-0 down with 20 minutes to go, but roared back into it to claim the win

Watsonians came back from 13-0 to pick up a narrow win against Southern Knights at The Greenyards.
Watsonians came back from 13-0 to pick up a narrow win against Southern Knights at The Greenyards. Image: © Craig Watson -

Southern Knights 13

Watsonians 14

DAVID BARNES @ The Greenyards

WATSONIANS played 30 minutes in total with only 14 men due to three different players picking up yellow cards during the course of this hard-fought contest, and they found themselves 13-0 down on the hour mark having not really looked like scoring up until that point, but they clicked into gear at the right time to pick up a narrow win on the road in their first ever competitive Super6 outing.

Wins at The Greenyards do not come easy, so there was good cause for the away team’s jubilation at full-time, but head coach Fergus Pringle was in no danger of getting carried away with the moment.

“We were lucky today, we gave away a lot of penalties and you don’t normally give away that many and win,” he reflected. “In the first half there was nervous energy and the occasion maybe got to the guys a bit.

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“In the second half, we started to get a foothold in the game and although the Knights scored a try the boys didn’t panic. I started to feel the momentum changing a bit and the guys just stuck in.

“We then managed to take two chances when they came along,” he added. “Our defence was outstanding today, we only conceded one try and that was when we were down to 14. I think that defence won us the game.”

There were a few glimpses of light early on, with Watsonians No 8 Morgan Inness and Southern Knights blindside Neil Irvine-Hess both sniffing out open space in the middle of the park to gallop into, but neither side was able to hold onto the ball long enough to build any pressure, so the scoring during the first half hour was limited to two Struan Hutchison penalties for the hosts, which were both slotted from directly in front of the posts.

Watsonians flanker Michael Badenhorst was sent to the sin-bin for some skulduggery at a ruck immediately before the second of those three-pointers, and with a man advantage the home team started to build the pressure, with Irvine-Hess and his back-row comrade Iain Moody weighing in with some big carries.

Winger Michael Mvelase-Julyan had a run at the line but out of nowhere appeared second-row Brian Leitch with a thunderous tackle to derail the move, and the score remained unchanged until half-time.

Lewis Berg was next to be sent to the cooler just before the break for a high tackle on opposite number Patrick Anderson, and he can perhaps consider himself lucky that it wasn’t a more severe sanction given current sensitivity to swinging arms and contact with the head.

Southern Knights continued to dominate proceedings through the third quarter, but still couldn’t turn pressure into points, until Jamie Hodgson became the third Watsonian to see yellow. Hutchison cut through but was pulled down just short, the home maul was then held up over the line, before the dam finally broke with Mvelase-Julyan, taking advantage of the missing flanker by cutting against the grain to scamper down the blindside of a scrum and go over in the corner.

That was just short of the hour mark, and finally ignited the match, with Watsonians striking right back when Joe Reynolds raced onto Lee Miller’s dink into the in-goal.

All of a sudden, Watsonians had their tails up, and they snatched the lead five minutes later after a sustained period of pressure when Berg powered over from close range, and Miller drilled the conversion.

The Knights rallied, and Hutchison had a tricky long-range shot at goal to put his team back in front, but he pushed it to the right of the posts, meaning the game ended in frustration for the hosts, although head coach Rob Chrystie was determined to focus on the positives.

“It was a good day,” he insisted. “A decent crowd and the club have done a lot of work off the field to pull it together. We’ve definitely gone up a level and hopefully we can continue pushing on.

“Credit to Watsonians, I thought they were pretty physical with some big old units in the front five, and they took their chances,” he added. “They rode the storm at the right time and were a bit more accurate when they got into our 22. It is going to be scary from our perspective looking back at the video at how often we got into their 22 and didn’t get over the line, so that’s something for us to work on.

“We’ve got Stirling next week, so the focus moves on. There was some good stuff in there to build on, so we need to look at why we didn’t manage to push on when we got on top. If we take half the opportunities we had today we are talking about a different scoreline.”

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Teams –

Southern Knights: F Thomson (C Whyte 26-30); J Jenkins, P Anderson, T Galbraith, M Mvelase-Julyan; S Hutchison, M McAndrew (B Colvine 58), G Shiells (C Young 58), R Anderson, E McQuillin (S Gunn 58), D Redpath (R Knott 50), A Runciman, N Irvine-Hess, D Taylor (R Darge 45), I Moody.

Watsonians: J Forbes; A Chalmers, L Berg, J Reynolds, A Guthrie; L Millar, R Frostwick; F Hobbis (H Courtney 50), C Wilson (C Davies 50), J Stanley (N Borel 33), B Leitch (F Simpson 62), J Hodgson, M Badenhorst (J Miller 50), C Boyle, M Inness.

Referee: I Kenny.

Scorers –

Southern Knights: Try: Mvelase-Julyan. Con: Hutchison. Pen: Hutchison 2.

Watsonians: Tries: Reynolds, Berg. Cons: Miller 2.

Scoring sequence (Southern Knights first): 3-0, 6-0 half-time, 11-0, 13-0, 13-5, 13-7, 13-12, 13-14.

Yellow cards: Watsonians: Badenhorst, Berg, Hodgson.

Man of the Match: Watsonians No 8 and vice captain Morgan Inness led by example through his carrying and general work-rate.

Talking point: If Watsonians can pick up a win at the Greenyards having had three different men in the sin-bin, imagine what they can do if they manage to keep all their players on the pitch for the whole 80!

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About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed the Southern Knights game against Watsonians and very impressed with the very high standard
    of rugby . If this level of rugby is maintained the idea behind the Super Siix will surely pay off .
    Nice to see a good turn out at the Greenyards and well done to all staff for making the visitors (myself being one ) so welcome .

  2. Thanks for posting this

    It’s remarkably hard to get the results from many outlets, even though this is the new 2nd tier of Scottish domestic rugby.

    BBC Sport don’t even have the fixtures, results and tables but plan to televise it!

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