Southern Knights 35
Future XV 31
FINN TAIT @ The Greenyards
A SPIRITED tussle at the Greenyards started in fine style as the much-improved Future XV opened the scoring after five minutes. Calum Norrie and Robbie Deans laying down the gauntlet at the first scrum to help winthe ball against the head. Matthew Urwin found full-back Jack Hocking and he glided down the touch line. Referee Mike Adamson ruled that the Knights defence had gone off their feet and Urwin knocked it into the corner with back-row convert Calum Smyth the beneficiary of a well set up maul.
Southern Knights hit back immediately, young borders-born fly half Harris Rutherford left Norrie grasping at air as he slid round the big prop, before finding half-back partner Chris Bell on the inside for the score.
But the visitors would not be shut down, firing back with a shot of their own, this time Norrie and Urwin combining to release Kerr Johnston who sent Adam Hall sprawling to the turf with a piston-engine handoff. Urwin duly converted from out wide, and the Future XV took the lead once more.
However, Future XV co-coach Scott Forrest will hope to see improvement in his team’s concentration as once again the young side invited pressure from the restart, with Alex Dods using his size to rumble up to the 22. The ball was recycled, and Bell found Hall, whose delicate ball inside caught out the entire Future XV line, and Aidan Cross was able to ghost in under the post untouched.
Just as we saw at Myreside recently, the Future XV side’s discipline began to waiver as their experienced counterparts put them under more and more pressure. The visiting defence did well to stance resolute for well over 15 phases but in the end, it was Scotland Under-20s man Sam Derrick who pounced for Knights, using his power to drag himself over the line. Rutherford converted the extras, and the Southern Knights extended their lead.
With five minutes in the half to go, the Future XV mounted a fightback, with a handy set-move at the line-out inspired by Portugal at the World Cup took them close, with carries from Freddy Douglas and Ruaridh Hart getting to within mere blades of synthetic grass from the line. Loosehead Deans took his turn and burrowed under the Knight’s defence and looked certain to score but the ball was knocked on. But they would not be denied for long and the smart line of Tom Currie, fed by scrum-half Finlay Burgess, saw the former Merchiston Castle School man in to score.
The Future XV will have hoped to head in to the half with the momentum on their side, but that discipline off restarts came back to haunt them once more. The Knights pinching the ball and sending willing runners in Corbin Thunder and Donald Crawford into the fray. Scrum-half Bell found Rutherford and the man formerly of Gala delivered a perfect cut-out ball to find his winger Aidan Cross for an easy score.
The second half started with the visitors in the ascendance, reenergised by a change of half-backs with the impressive Isaac Coates and Hector Patterson entering the fray. Patterson immediately causing a threat with his excellent cross-kick just out of reach of replacement winger Fergus Watson.
Coates was involved in everything, firstly releasing Freddy Douglas down the touch-line when there looked to be nothing on. The flanker bundled over the top of Crawford and was rewarded with a Knights infringement at the breakdown.
The another piece of smart handling from Coates sent the big centre Johnston into weak Knights tackles, the big man had Patterson on his inside but opted for the dummy and bundled over to put the Future XV right back in this game.
Coates was soon at it again, whipping a ball out the back door to centre Calum Ferrie, who found Hocking, and the full-back fixed his man and sent speedster Amena Caqusau into the corner. Coates could not convert but the Future were showing every bit of heart and determination needed to get back into the lead of a game they had looked all but out of.
And they will feel aggrieved not to have been rewarded a scrum from Terry Logan’s fumble, the Kelso man on an emergency loan this week. The Knights took full advantage of this lapse in officiating as Crawford and later Bentley scythed into Future XV territory. The stretched defence could not hold out as replacement scrum-half Harry Bone found Cross who completed his hat-trick. It was heartbreak for the Future XV with just 5 minutes left.
As we have learned, this young side will never die wondering, and they came surging back through a Freddie Douglas break in injury time which won a penalty. They kicked to the corners, but just as they got their maul rolling it collapsed, and the scrum was awarded to the Knights.
Southern Knights: D Crawford; A Cross, H Bentley, A Hall, C Barrett; H Rutherford, C Bell; C Greer, C Thunder, A Dodds, G Young, A Ferrie, M Job, J Rutherford, S Derrick. Subs: L Thompson, F Barry, T Logan, H Borthwick, A Hosking, H Bone, G McNeish©, P Anderson.
Future XV: J Hocking; Finn Douglas, K Johnston, C Ferrie, A Caqusau; M Urwin, F Burgess; R Deans, J Blyth-Lafferty, C Norrie, C Nolan, R Hart, C Smyth, Freddy Douglas, T Currie©. Substitutes: E Lee, J Shearer, R Cromar, L Fergusson, A Bogidrau, H Patterson, I Coates, F Watson.
Referee: Mike Adamson
Southern Knights: Tries: Bell, Cross 3, Derrick; Cons: Rutherford 5.
Future XV: Tries: Smyth, Currie, Johnston 2, Caqusau; Cons: Urwin 2 Coates 1.
Scoring sequence (Southern Knights first): 0-5; 5-5; 7-5; 7-10; 7-12 12-12; 14-12; 19-12; 21-12; 21-17; 21-19; 28-19 (h-t) 28-24; 28-26; 28-31; 35-31.
Man-of-the-Match: Freddy Douglas and Tom Currie look like sure-fire stars in the making, both outstanding here. Isaac Coates once again showed his immense pedigree during his 40 minutes off the bench. Kerr Johnston of the Future XV scoring two fine tries must be mentioned, as does Knights hat-trick hero Aidan Cross. But the gone goes to another Scotland U20s prospect in the form of Harris Rutherford who steered the Knights masterfully with maturity beyond his years. He combined some fantastic flair with a measured controlled gameplan, and he saw his side home.
Talking point: It looked like the Future XV had started to turn the corner against Watsonians a fortnight ago with a performance full of physicality and gusto, and this another big step in the right direction. There are still obvious loose ends, but the killer instinct is coming, and they have some real dangerous options to unleash. Underestimate this team at your own peril!