Super Series: Southern Knights salvage respectability with second-half rally versus Edinburgh ‘A’

Pro side from the capital too strong overall for depleted Borderers

Rob Carmichael crashes over for Edinburgh 'A's opening try. Image: Craig Murray
Rob Carmichael crashes over for Edinburgh 'A's opening try. Image: Craig Murray

Southern Knights 19

Edinburgh ‘A’ 54

ALAN LORIMER @ The Greenyards

A STRONG second half performance by Southern Knights was not enough to prevent Edinburgh ‘A’ finishing winners by a considerable margin at The Greenyards in the opening round of the Super Series Sprint. But the home side, operating with a smaller squad than is optimal for this competition, can take much from their display despite the discouraging score-line. 

“We’re missing three Edinburgh Accies players because of the Cup semi-final. And if Accies get to the final we’ll be without them next weekend as well,” explained the Knights’ assistant coach, Scott Wight, adding: “We’re working with a comparatively new group – we’ve only managed to retain eleven players so it’s a rebuilding phase once again. And we’ve only got a short period of time to do it.

“It’s been a disjointed pre-season because we’ve had guys coming from club rugby and university rugby down in Newcastle. There were 12 boys making their debut tonight.”


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“It adds up to about two weeks together but some of the rugby we put together and particularly some of the defensive sets was outstanding and is a great stepping stone for taking on Boroughmuir next week,” suggested Wight, who was pleased with the way his charges approached the second half.

“At 40 points down, we challenged the boys at half time.  The game could have gone to 80 or 90 points at the end, but their steel, mentality and attitude was bang on,” he stated.

For Knights, 18-year old Ross Wolfenden certainly did not look out of place in Super Series rugby while others to catch the eye were Gregor McNeish at stand-off and Allan Ferrie in the back-row.

For Edinburgh coach, Kris Burney, there was satisfaction in seeing his less experienced players perform well.

“I thought our young guys stood up well, there were quite a lot of Academy boys in there,” he said. “It was good to see guys like Jack Hocking, Jack Brown and Finn Douglas step up, helped by the likes of Charlie Shiel, Ben Muncaster and Tom Dodd leading by example”.

Shiel, in particular, seemed to have acres of space in which to roam and used his freedom to put on a display of clever and intelligent rugby which showcased his useful pace. Muncaster and Dodd were the enforcers in the back-row and certainly did a lot of damage in the first half when Knights struggled to get on terms with the visitors.

Another to catch the eye was second-row Rob Carmichael, in his first public outing since transferring north from Leicester Tigers in February. The rangy lock forward garnered a shoal of line-out ball and and looks useful around the park.  “It’s not often you see a second-row stay on for the full 80 minutes” observed Burney.

 

 

Edinburgh ‘A’ showed their  professional pedigree, putting points on the board after just two minutes of play from a dominant scrum and then crisp transference of ball to former Scottish Schools under16 sprint champion Finn Douglas, whose pace bought some 50 metres for his side.

Then, when the Edinburgh ‘A’ forwards worked the ball through the phases, Carmichael used his 6ft 11ins height to stretch over for a try under the posts, leaving stand-off Cammy Scott with a simple conversion kick.

Douglas, having created the first try, then showed his skill as a strike runner, finishing a tackle-evading run by Shiel, with a blazing dash to the line. Scott, this time from wide out, adding the extra points.

The in-form Douglas then scorched in for his second try, again converted, to put Edinburgh ‘A’ into a 21-0 lead.

Fortunately for the game, Knights were able to interrupt the visitors’ flow of points after replacement hooker Finlay Scott took advantage of the visitors’ hesitancy at dealing with the bouncing ball in the in-goal area..

From the touchline, Callum Grieve kicked the conversion goal but any notion of hitting the professionals further before half-time was scotched as Shiel, running a good support line, took the scoring pass from back-row Dodd.

Scott, once more, added the extra points before converting another Edinburgh try by Muncaster from a five-metre line-out. Edinburgh still had time for a further score before half-time and again it was Shiel who was creator with an overhead pass that gave Douglas his hat-trick for a 40-7 interval lead.

 

 

Despite conceding six tries in the opening 40 minutes, Knights had fight left in them and showed this spirit with an early second half try by Ethan McVicker, the wing taking a long pass before dipping low to squeeze in at the corner. For the second time in the match, Grieve converted from the touchline to give the Knights’ score tally a more respectable look.

A Paddy Harrison try from close-,and converted by replacement stand-off Isaac Coates, kept Edinburgh’s points tally increasing but, unbowed, the Greenyards outfit managed to strike again, this time from a driving maul finished by Gregor McNeish, who had joined the moving mass as a useful extra.

Inspired by the McNeish try, Knights seemed to find their mojo, defending well and especially impressive in stopping a potential maul try close to their line. Moreover, they were not afraid to attack, on one occasion moving the ball from behind their own line to put McVicker into space only for the winger’s kick ahead to drop cruelly into touch.

If Edinburgh’s scoring rate had slowed down in the second half, the visitors were able to raise a final effort that ended with full-back Brown racing in for a try converted by Coates to complete a high-scoring game.

 

Teams –

Southern Knights: C Grieve; S Watt, J Civil, E Greenlaw, E McVicker; G McNeish, C Davidson; J Dobie, M Brogan, D Gamble, M Badenhorst, A Runciman, A Ferrie, M Job, M Rhodes. Replacements used: F Scott, A McGregor, Z Szwagrzak, G Young, D Cockburn, W Ferrie, R Wolfenden, A Hall.

Edinburgh Rugby ‘A’: J Brown; N Moncrieff, S Leweni, J Hocking, F Douglas; C Scott (I Coates 40), C Shiel; L de Bruin (M Jones 40), P  Harrison, D Rae, E McVie, R Carmichael, T Dodd ©, T Currie, B Muncaster. Replacements used: J Blyth-Lafferty, M Jones, A Williams, M Fyffe, H Patterson, I Coates, D Odejinmi.

Referee: Jonny Perriam

 

Scorers –

Southern Knights: Tries: Scott, McVicar, Grieve; Con: Grieve.

Edinburgh Rugby ‘A’: Tries: Carmichael, Douglas 3, Shiel, Muncaster, Harrison, Brown; Cons: Scott 5, Coates 2.

Scoring Sequence (Southern Knights first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-19; 0-21; 5-21; 7-21; 7-26; 7-28; 7-33; 7-35; 7-40 (h-t) 12-40; 14-40; 14-45; 14-47; 19-47; 19-52; 19-54.

Man-of-the-Match: It was always going to be difficult for a semi pro player to match the fully loaded version and in the first half that proved to be the case ,but Knights’ ability to stay in the game during the second half was admirable and there was little doubt that Callum Grieve at full-back did much to inspire his team mates with a huge defensive performance, two touchline conversions and complete safety under the high ball for which he deserves to be man-of-the-match.

Talking point: With such little time to prepare and players yet to be available for matches, Southern Knights have yet to show their true mettle but their second half performance should give the Greenyards men confidence going forward. As for the pro side, this was a chance to expose some young Academy players to what is a tough level of rugby: in the event all came through the match with reputations enhanced.


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About Alan Lorimer 358 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.

25 Comments

  1. The idea of Pro A teams is a very good one for developing the young players, gives them the chance to play and learn at a higher competitive level.

    Good to see 9 academy boys playing, including two called up from clubs, plus half a dozen of the younger Pros who don’t get much game time at Edinburgh.

    The only slight caveat here is that the A teams are envisaged as being primarily U-24 players, so basically young teams. I make Edinburgh having 23 Pro and Academy boys 23 or younger. Obviously they won’t all be fit and available, and some older lads may be needed to plug the gaps. However, putting in a seasoned Pro front row of Rae, de Bruin and Williams on the bench changes the game a good bit, stacks the odds somewhat against S6 teams.

    • But how much did the SK front rows gain from packing down against the Big boys today 👍

  2. At one point in the 2nd half Edinburgh A were playing a back line in which Finn Douglas (aged 20) was the oldest among them). Alongside him they had two 19 year olds, three 18 year olds, and a 17 year old. An impressively young back line, getting good experience. What was also good to see was that Hocking, Coates, Currie, Douglas and JBL, who endured one big defeat another for the Future XV in the Super Series Championship last year, got to taste a handsome victory as part of Edinburgh A – and don’t look any worse for the experience of those hard defeats.

  3. A very disappointing evening, other than the weather. Disappointing that a South African club had again sent such a seriously under-powered side to Europe, something Glasgow’s rivals will not have appreciated. Disappointing that the Warriors put in such a scrappy, error-strewn performance. And ultimately disappointing that they could not secure the bonus point despite being three tries to the good at half time. This may sound harsh, but a sharp wake-up call is required because this was sloppy and a full-strength Sharks team would have won. Just hope the spurned bonus point isn’t costly. Now over to the Bulls and Munster this afternoon. Pass the beer nuts.

  4. This was a game between one side who obviously had trained and played together in the edinburgh setup for some time whereas the other had just come together recently and did not know each other. Pros against clubplayers is never going to have any other result. Some youngsters certainly caught the eye in both teams but for me Angus Runciman played really well and did not look out of place against professional players. I hope the decriers of the competition shut up and support the attempt to expose fringe players to this level of play

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    • You’re clutching at straws now Angry Gala 2 .
      How can you justify shouting for this.
      Just a aboot fell asleep .
      Plenty seats in stand but unfortunately most were empty .
      See you at Rayburn place today .
      Ps

      Nae wonder your angry yer bubbles burst now .
      Looking forward to next years Prem 1 games with players and teams we know.
      Bring it on

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      • Don’t feed the troll guys. Wee mousey scurrying about for cheese! 😂.

        Good news wee Mousey , i shall be in the Stockbridge area later. Not sure where ‘Rayburn’ place is – but i frequent the Raeburn, pop in for a drink after the game! How will i recognise you?

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      • ..cast yer rod far enough Mouse you’ll always get him to bite.
        He can’t help himself .
        One more yellow card and he’s banned .
        What does that say

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    • Yet less than an hour after this post AG2 supported the post that said “I hope the decriers of the competition shut up and support the attempt to expose fringe players to this level of play”.

      Can there be any further proof necessary that he is a hypocritical troll?

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      • I support the competition Joe – just a shame the borders clubs are not backing the Knights – this is what you failed to understand. Now back under yer bridge.

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      • You support whatever agenda you are using for your trolling at the time AG2. You are only consistent in your hypocrisy and your trolling.

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  5. I think Mr Lorimer must have overindulged at half time given some of the comments he makes on this game….
    The game was over by half time and Edinburgh took off the impressive Cammy Scott who was a class above , from then on they looked totally rudderless and their structure was awful in the 2nd half. I am at a loss at to how Mr Lorimer managed to pick Calum Grieve for MOTM , there were many more deserving than him, in particular the tireless workhorse that is Angus Runciman who put in a huge shift. Dodd in the Edinburgh back row was also very good , particularly in the 1st half.
    McNeish just like last year is an average stand off and the Knights hid an understandably well off the pace Wolfenden in attack when he came on. Not his fault but I fear they are pushing this lad too quick , I hope they allow him next season with Peebles in Nat 1 as that will be as good a place as any for a young lad to learn his craft.

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    • Agree last night showed the gulf from this to pro-game, Sheil and Scott were a class above back and yet both are below average squad players at Edinburgh. Gulf in 1st half pack even more so evident.
      Not sure how Wolfenden was off the place, he played well when he came on making no obvious errors in a huge step up. Stood up really well physically and in defence.
      I’d say he outplayed Coates in that second half who is u20s starter 10.
      Several 18 years old playing last night which can only be a good thing.
      Wolfenden like any 18-20 year old needs to play rugby next season regardless of where and not be stuck in a gym.

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      • They need to be doing both Adam – the U20’s actually looked physically capable (mostly) this Six nations compared to the previous year where the gulf was huge. Now they need to maintain that AND get more gametime.

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    • Young Wolfenden was excellent Neil Hinnigan. He’ll be a stage 3 player next season along with a few others on the park last night. Well done to the Knights boys for sticking in with minimal prep.
      Pros against barely semi pros is always going to one way.

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