Southern Knights 39
Future XV 38
ALAN LORIMER @ The Greenyards
IF the pre-match forecast was leaning towards a young Futures XV being unable to cope with the power of a seasoned Super Series side then the newcomers turned that notion on its head, and but for a last minute miss at goal they would have come away with a not undeserved win.
In the event, the single point victory by Southern Knights may prove to be a fillip for the beleaguered Greenyards consortium after a torrid time in the recent Sprint series. And a boost too for Alan Tait, who admitted: “It was my first win as head coach of the Knights, but we know that there’s a lot of work to do. We’ve had a lot of disruption in the last two weeks with players on holiday and injuries.”
Despite the win, Tait revealed that his players were disappointed with the game. “They had done the work in the first half and everybody thought they would click into gear and pile on the points,” he added. “But fair play to the Futures. They had a hard job getting a team together but were helped by some good players from the Wolves. They scored some belters of tries. They had a chance to win the game with a kick at the end but that’s the way it goes. We’ve all won and lost games like that”.
The pain of losing by one point should not in any way reduce the credit the young Futures XV richly deserves. Throughout the youngsters were unfazed by their opponentS and showed impressive skill in executing many of their moves.
Future XV coach Scott Lawson suggested that what was once referred to as the hypotenuse of youth was apparent throughout their performance. “The energy on both sides of the ball in attack and defence from us was outstanding,” he said. “The amount of opportunities they took and the amount they created and capitalised on was impressive. It came down to key moments in the game but this group is motivated by learning and developing.
“As to the game itself ,I thought we were the more dominant team throughout the match but there were just one or two key moments when Knights’ experience and seniority counted. But the boys will learn from this.”
The energy that Lawson spoke of was evident in the youngsters’ opening play, the Futures wasting little time in making an impression with a spectacular try from a finely angled run by winger Amena Caqusau, with Isaac Coates adding the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
The score, however, had the effect of shaking Knights into action and when they drove a five-metre line-out the outcome was predictable, hooker Luke Thompson claiming the points. Then from a plentiful supply of ball Knights added two scores in quick succession both from long cut-out passes by stand-off Callum Grieve that yielded unconverted tries in opposite corners for winger Aidan Cross and full-back Donald Crawford.
But any thought that Knights would dominate proceedings thereafter were soon shattered with a period of pressure from the Future XV that tested the home side’s defence and which ultimately produced a try from prop Callum Smyth, to go into the break 22-12 down.
The gap narrowed immediately after the interval after Future XV attacked from the kick-off and from a sweeping move that benefitted from the support play of Oliver Duncan, fellow back-row Freddy Douglas was on hand to nail the score, Coates adding his second conversion.
Knights quickly replied with a second try by Crawford and the conversion by Grieve only to concede a score to the Future XV when Jake Spurway crashed over from close range, becoming a seven pointer following Coates’ third conversion success.
Then, when replacement Chris Bell was carded, Future XV made hay from their man advantage, scoring from a five metre line-out through benchman Tom Smith and the conversion by Coates.
Matters became worse for Knights when Duncan forced his way over from close range for an unconverted try, countered within minutes by a score in the corner from Garry Young via a pinpoint pass from replacement stand-off Harris Rutherford. Grieve’s conversion then narrowed the Future XV lead to two points.
With just three minutes of play remaining, Knights regained the lead with a Grieve penalty. It seemed that was that until on full-time Knights gave away a penalty in front of the posts. All it needed was for Coates to knock over the kick. Sadly for the talented stand-off the ball was hooked slightly wide of the posts leaving Knights winners by the narrowest of margins
Southern Knights: D Crawford; A Cross, H Bentle, A Hall, R Cottrell; G McNeish, R Brand©; J Dobie, L Thompson, D Gamble, A Runciman, A Ferrie, H Borthwick, W Ferrie, G Young. Substitutes: F Barry, C Greer, A Dodds, T Brown, M Wilson, C Bell, H Rutherford, C Grieve.
Future XV: S Wilson; A Caqusau, M Herron, C Ferrie, S Rockley; I Coates, E Davey; C Smyth, M Brogan, M Ogunlaja, J Spurway, J Pow, S MacDonald, F Douglas, O Duncan. Substitutes: M Cantle, A Cameron, L Skinner, T Smith, C Nolan, R Cadzow, C Scott, B Riley.
Referee: Jonny Perriman
Southern Knights: Tries Thompson 2, Cross, Crawford 2, Young; Cons: Grieve 3; Pen: Grieve.
Future XV: Tries: Caqusau, Smyth, Douglas, Spurway, Smith, Duncan: Cons: Coates 4.
Scoring Sequence (Southern Knights first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 10-7; 15-7; 22-7; 22-12 (h-t) 22-17; 22-19; 27-19; 29-19; 29-24; 29-26; 29-31; 29-33; 29-38; 34-38; 36-38.
Yellow cards –
Southern Knights: Bell
Man-of-the-Match: In such a close game there were a number of candidates (on both sides) for the MOTM but for sheer energy, clever support running and strong defence Futures’ No 8 Ollie Duncan wins the accolade, just fractionally ahead of his back-row colleague Freddy Douglas and centre Callum Ferrie, and Knights’ hooker Luke Thompson.
Talking point: Both sides were missing a shoal of players which made the game a tad artificial. Knights’ first win for some time, however, will be a considerable confidence lifter for the Greenyards men but perhaps it was the Future XVs that may have gained most from this encounter. They will still be without their Kenya contingent for several weeks but even with the current squad they can look forward to being competitive against what will admittedly be much stiffer opposition. Finally, a word for stand-off Isaac Coates who must have felt the utter disappointment of missing a match winning goal on full-time. But Coates looked very competent as a 10 throughout, begging the question of why he was not in Nairobi with the Scotland Under-20 squad?