IT has been a successful few weeks for back-row Stuart Allison in contrasting extreme temperatures – and he now wants to end the calendar year on a rugby high by helping the Watsonians ‘Club XV’ replicate their fine home form with a rare away win against Stirling Wolves in their National League One clash at Bridgehaugh.
The 22-year-old scored two tries on November 24th to help Watsonians defeat old rivals Boroughmuir 24-20, then between December 5th and 7th he played his part as select side The Canadian Irregulars won the International Social Trophy event in sweltering heat at the Dubai Sevens, and no sooner had he returned to the icy-cold of Edinburgh than he was bagging a hat-trick of tries to help Watsonians emphatically see off Melrose 44-10 at Myreside last Saturday.
“It has been a great month for me really,” Allison said. “The win against Boroughmuir at the end of November was a big one for us at Watsonians as we had to dig it out and wanted to move away from the bottom two if we could.
“The game against Ayr was postponed due to a frozen pitch seven days later and it meant I could travel to Dubai for the sevens the following day with no niggles. Once I got there I couldn’t have asked for a better week, all the players were very welcoming.
“Despite being from all corners of the world – Canada, Luxembourg, Scotland and England were represented in the Canadian Irregulars squad – we managed to gel very quickly.
“The stadium was in the middle of the desert, but the quality of the pitches were the best I’ve ever seen. We were drawn into the ‘pool of death’ with the other three teams being well established outfits that go far in the competition every year.
“We did well, though, to progress and, on the final day, saw off the Stockholm Exiles in the last eight before our toughest game against the Akuma Beavers in the semis. We came through that and the final was against the Wyvern Harlequins who we had already beaten in the pool. After a nervy start, we managed to run away with the game [31-12].
“I was very happy for the coach Neil Young who put so much time and funding into organising the whole week for us and I was very grateful for the opportunity he gave me, especially playing alongside fellow Scots Ronan Kerr and Kyle Brown.”
Having grown up in Melrose and played for The Greenyards club from when he was five until under-18 level, the match against Stuart Johnson’s men a few days ago was always going to be a big one for Allison.
Melrose, fourth in the table, had defeated Watsonians 50-27 back in September in the Borders, but the tables were turned this time around.
“I loved my time playing at Melrose, I got to work under Jim Telfer and we won the Borders League at under-18 level which was great,” Allison, who then played for Stirling University and Stirling County before arriving at Myreside this summer, stated. “As a result last Saturday was a game I was really looking forward to as I knew a lot of the opposition players. In the end it was the best performance Watsonians have put together all season.
“Right from the off we were organised and clinical, managing to build an early lead and withstand any Melrose attack. After half-time it was a case of controlling the game which I thought we did very well.
“With the wind behind us we played the game in sensible areas of the pitch and forced Melrose to play from their half. Both our attack and defence was solid and to put over 40 points on a strong Melrose team showed me that we are capable of beating anyone in this league, we just need to take our home form with us when we travel away.”
One point separates Watsonians and seventh placed Stirling Wolves in the league table and Allison, who studied sport and business in Stirling, is looking forward to the game.
“Like Melrose, I know a few of the guys who will likely be in the Stirling squad and earlier in the season we had a really close game against them [Watsonians won 30-29 thanks to a last gasp penalty by captain Chris Bell] so it should be a good match up,” he concluded.
- Stirling Wolves v Watsonians takes place in Tennent’s National League Division One at Bridgehaugh at 3pm on Saturday