Super Series: hard-fought win at Boroughmuir Bears sends Watsonians second

Bears v Watsonians
Watsonians got the better of Boroughmuir Bears in a tight tussle at Meggetland. Image: Fred Palmer.

Boroughmuir Bears 17

Watsonians 24


THIS match may have been played in mildy miserable conditions, but both teams did their best to ensure that the 80 minutes were more than mildly entertaining. True, there was a lot of kicking for position and an abundance of handling errors – both understandable given the unrelenting rain and a tricky wind – but there was a lot of running rugby too.

Boroughmuir Bears may be languishing close to the foot of the Super Series table, but they gave as good as they got for much of the match against their Edinburgh rivals. For their part, Watsonians steadily, sensibly increased the pressure on the home side, winning the second half 17-5 after going in behind at the break.

The victory was enough to take the champions into second place in the table, albeit ahead of a Heriot’s side who have two games in hand after their match at Stirling Wolves fell foul of the weather. Even so, Nikki Walker was left disappointed by his team’s failure to score a fourth try that would have seen them make the short hop home across Colinton Road with five points.

 “We’ve got to be better in our accuracy if we want to start getting away from teams,” the Watsonians coach said. “We’re grinding out wins – that’s four in a row. But I think we’re better than that and we’re disappointed we didn’t get the five points.”

Playing with the breeze more or less at their backs, the Bears enjoyed some early pressure, and took the lead with a try by Craig Keddie in the right corner from a maul after a penalty had been sent to touch. George Paul’s conversion attempt sailed wide of the far post.

Watsonians slowly got a foothold in the game after that, and following a penalty that was sent to touch around 10 metres out, hooker Jake Kerr rumbled over from the drive. Millar’s conversion put his team ahead. 

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The Bears fought back, and regained the lead thanks to good work by Kaleem Barreto, whose over-the-head pass put Alex Thom in close to the right corner. Paul’s conversion was good this time, giving his team a 12-7 lead that they took into the break.

In the second half, Watsonians once more went ahead when Kwagga van Niekirk touched down after a midfield scramble and a hack ahead. Kieran Watt supplied the scoring pass; Millar supplied two more points with his boot.

The captain added two more when Jake Kerr got his team’s third try off a lineout maul, and at 21-12 ahead Watsonians were just about home if not exactly dry. Jason Baggott, on for Millar, added a penalty to plump up their points cushion.

But Boroughmuir were not finished yet. When Zak Griffiths scored from a lineout maul there were still seven or eight minutes left, and even if the conversion did come back off a post, the Bears’ hopes of a comeback rose visibly.

They were soon deflated, however, when Joe Jenkins was sent off for taking out Dom Coetzee in the air as the full-back fielded a high ball. Nonetheless, Bears coach Graham Shiel sounded a shade happier with his single point than Walker did with his larger haul.

“We got something out of a really good competitive match,” he said. “There were lots of positives. It was disappointing at the end of the game, we were not quite there, but Watsonians are a good team, with a strong pack, and they showed their power in the second half.”

Scorers – 

Boroughmuir Bears: Tries: Keddie, Thom, Griffiths. Con: Paul.

Watsonians: Tries: Kerr 2, Van Niekirk. Cons: Millar 3. Pen: Baggott.

Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir Bears first): 5-0, 5-5, 5-7, 10-7, 12-7 half-time, 12-12, 12-14, 12-19, 12-21, 12-24, 17-24.

Teams – 

Boroughmuir Bears: E Muirhead; M Cullen, A Thom, S Robeson©, J Jenkins; G Paul, K Barreto; I Carmichael, A Allen, M McGinley, M Loboda, J Fisher, C Keddie, K Westlake, T Andrews. Subs: Z Griffiths, C McFeat Smith, L Alessandri (24), C Hunter, S McGinley, J Beveridge, A McLean, C Ramm.

Watsonians: D Coetzer; S King, G Pringle, L Berg, F Owsley; L Millar©, M McAndrew; C Davidson, J Kerr, G Scougall, K Watt, A Scopes, L Ball, K Main, K van Niekerk. Subs: F Duraj, R Deans, B Bratton (24), J Berrisford, S Cecil, M Scott, J Baggott, L MacPherson.

Red card: Boroughmuir Bears: Jenkins.

Referee: Keane Davison.

Man of the match: While Watsonians’ Lee Millar displayed his usual sagacious game management and Bears winger Mason Cullen excited the home support with some lightning-fast breaks, Cullen’s team-mate Kaleem Barreto got the award thanks to once more being a key influence in his side’s ability to stay in the contest.

Talking point: The Bears needed a big win to take the Allan McNish Trophy after losing 33-7 at Myreside in the first leg of the traditional double-header in memory of the former Watsonians president. The conditions made it highly unlikely that they would score anything like the number of points needed; the Watsonians defence did the rest.




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About Stuart Bathgate 1394 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.