Super Series: Stirling Wolves see off Southern Knights to book their place in Sprint Final

Bridgehaugh men will face either Ayrshire Bulls or Heriot's in next weekend's tournament decider

Ryan Southern scored two tries in a man-of-the-match performance for Stirling Wolves versus Southern Knights. Image: Bryan Robertson
Ryan Southern scored two tries in a man-of-the-match performance for Stirling Wolves versus Southern Knights. Image: Bryan Robertson

Southern Knights 33

Stirling Wolves 54

ALAN LORIMER @ The Greenyards

STIRLING WOLVES moved to the top of the Super Series Sprint table (at least until Saturday tea time) after running in eight tries against a Southern Knights side that managed to stage a rearguard action and avoid a potentially massive points score against them. As a result the Bridgehaugh men have guaranteed themselves a place in the final of the competition next weekend when they will face either Heriot’s or Ayrshire Bulls, who meet tomorrow at Goldenacre. 

In a high scoring game that produced 13 tries, Stirling finished eight-five ahead in terms of touchdowns and, if not for small lapses, might have been much further ahead. But reaching the final of the Sprint competition was the aim of the Wolves’this campaign and they have now succeeded, much to the satisfaction of their head coach, Eddie Pollock.

“Job done,” declared Pollock. “It was a good win. I thought we played well in the first 20 minutes and scored some really good tries. We played exactly the way we wanted to play and some of the rugby right through was very good.


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“We were a bit lax defensively in the last 10 minutes of the first half which let them back into the game and in the second half we were poor towards the end. There are bits and pieces to work on but we’re in another final. I’m really pleased we backed up the strong performance in the Championship and have shown what a good side we are. We’ve won nine out of the last 10 Super Series games. So that’s a bit of form,” Pollock suggested.

Impressive for Stirling Wolves were the midfield trio of Craig Jackson at stand-off and centres Marcus Holden and Ryan Southern together with the backfield duo of Ross McKnight and Glenn Bryce, both of whom always threatened with ball in hand. Up front, Ed Hadsell at No 8 emphasised what a quality back-row he is while second-row James Pow impressed both at the set-piece and in his link play.

The hard truth for Knights is that they were up against a side that has quality throughout, reflected in the manner of some of the Wolves’ tries.

But for a team that has struggled to attract regional talent and which does not have the resources of the the top trio of clubs, there was still some excellent play from Knights, notably from their forward pack, among whom Alan Ferrie, Garry Young and the excellent Marcus Rhodes succeeded in inflicting damage on their opponents with powerful running in broken play.

Certainly, there was satisfaction for the hosts in scoring five tries and in the process earning a bonus point.

“Attacking-wise, this was probably one of our better games,” reflected Scott Wight, the Knights’ head coach.  “Defensively we were a bit off the pace at times. When we’re at the top of our game we’re actually quite good but our low is too far away.

“Starts are an issue … before we wake up. We also switched off in the 10 minutes just after half time but we showed a bit of character in scoring two late tries to pick up the bonus point.”

 

 

Stirling wasted little time in notching up early points with a score that emanated from a clever kick pass from former Melrose man Jackson. The ball was collected by McKnight, who then kept the move alive with an inside pass to Bryce, before the wing popped up in midfield to take the feed from Southern and then romp home for a try under the posts easily converted by Holden.

Having demonstrated their scoring power, Wolves repeated their show with another peach of a try, this time from set-piece, a soaring take by Power clever defence-drawing running from Kyle McGhie and then a perfect line from Southern for the centre to power his way over for try number two, again converted by Holden.

The game desperately needed a response from Knights and in the event the home side was able to deliver, a tap penalty close to the line and a powerful carry giving No 8 Rhodes an opening try for The Greenyards men.

But just as it seemed Knights had found their mojo, Wolves showed their teeth once more with a second try by Southern after a defence  rattling-run from prop Marius Tamosaitis and quick transfer of the ball by the inside backs, Holden once again adding the extras.

Over to Knights. And this time after some clever play,  Callum Grieve showed skilful footwork to outwit the Wolves’ defence for an impressive try, to which he added the extras. Then buoyed by their fighting spirit, Knights struck again, this time prop Jack Dobie running a good line to finish off a powerful surge by the home forwards.

Grieve converted to narrow Stirling’s lead to just two points but any hopes Knights’ might have harboured of overtaking Wolves before half-time were shattered when the visitors dotted down for their bonus point try from a driving maul, the score credited to flanker Shaun MacDonald. Yet again the conversion points were added by Holden to send Stirling into the break with a 28-19 advantage.

The lead did not look too daunting for Knights at the beginning of the second half but that perception soon changed for the home side as Stirling went into rocket-mode scoring two tries in quick succession byEd Hasdell and McKnight, with one conversion for Holden.

Then a wonderful break by the quick-silver Southern created another post half-time try for Stirling, rewarding replacement scrum half Eric Davey for good support running.

Euan Cunningham, taking over the kicking role, added the extras and succeeded again off the tee with the conversion of a try by replacement Fergus Read from a brilliant swerving run by Bryce.

It was then left to Knights to complete the scoring with two driving maul tries, both from penalty-created line-outs, and both by replacement hooker Harri Morris to bring respectability to the home side’s points scoreline.

 

Teams –

Southern Knights: G McNeish (A Hall 60); E McVicker, J Civil, C Grieve, R Chalmers (E Greenlaw 29); R Brett (R Wolfenden 60), C Davidson; J Dobie (A McGregor 67), F Scott (H Morris 40), C Crookshanks (D Gamble 40), A Runciman, A Ferrie, G Young (M Brogan 68), Y Fantini, M Rhodes (W Ferrie 67).

Stirling Wolves: G Bryce; M Heron, R Southern, M Holden © (C Ferrie 62), R McKnight; C Jackson (E Cunningham 62), K McGhie (E Davey 55); L Quarm (A Rogers 60), J Roberts (B Robertson 62), M Tamosaitis (J Phelen 60), J Pow, J Oguntibeju (A Clarke 67), M Duncan (F Read 62), S MacDonald, E Hasdell.

Referee: Mike Adamson.

 

Scorers –

Southern Knights: Tries: Rhodes, Grieve, Dobie, Morris 2; Cons: Grieve 4.

Stirling Wolves: Tries :McKnight 2, Southern 2, MacDonald, Hasdell, Davey, Read; Cons: Holden 5, Cunningham 2.

Scoring Sequence (Southern Knights first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 5-14;  5-19; 5-21; 10-21; 12-21; 17-21; 19-21; 19-26; 19-28 (h-t) 19-33; 19-35; 19-40; 19-45; 19-47; 19-52; 19-54; 24-54; 26-54; 31-54; 33-54.

 

Man-of-the-Match: He scored two tries and laid on a third making Ryan Southern the deserved man-of-the-match

Talking point: Stirling Wolves look well prepared to contest the final of the Super Series Sprint next Friday which will mark the final game for their exceptional playmaker Craig Jackson, who next season will be Stirling’s head coach for their National One campaign. Given that many of their Super Series squad will stay, the Bridghaugh men will be somewhat strong in the second tier of amateur rugby to the point that matches against them could verge on the dangerous.


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About Alan Lorimer 360 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.

6 Comments

  1. Nearly 30 folk in the stands with glorious weather…..lacklustre rugby with everybody involved looking utterly bored. How anyone can question this nonsense being scrapped is beyond me. Impressed by the folk at the picnic tables that didn’t once glance towards the pitch. Obviously the catering was a bigger draw.

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    • Rubbish and clearly you are one of the rugby intellectuals that will take Scottish rugby nowhere.
      The intended consequence of the decision made by the SRU and certain cluband coaches will be felt over the next two seasons.
      You’re certainly not a rugby fan.

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      • So you didn’t actually watch the game then….you must be delighted with the progress our u20s have taken since S6 when before it they were 5th in RWC to now be having been humiliated ever since and now having to spend money on qualifiers for u20s RWC after we were humiliated by the powerhouse of…. Uruguay

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        • I watched the game.
          To blame Super Rugby for the U20’s demise is pretty rich.
          However, with the new season to start in September there will be,I have no doubts,the usual moaning suspects amongst them, no doubt led by you the rugby fan!!

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      • John, look at where the game is currently. Is there much further backwards it can go? What is the intended consequence of the SRU decision in your view? Super Series has been a commercial failure, simply ask the clubs involved who would have needed significantly more funding if they were to keep going. Considering the precarious financial position of the SRU this wasn’t possible. It has been ended before it ended those involved. The intended consequence is quite clearly to avoid bankruptcy.

  2. If attackwise success means short range maul tries and 1 longer range effort where it appeared the Wolves temporarily defaulted to touch rugby then that conveys a limited game plan. The Knights were again very poor. How ironic that the tormentor in chief was an ex Knights captain who was inexplicably deemed surplus to requirements and departed in an acrimonious episode where he got on the wrong side of the Greenyards hierarchy and which also involved friction around Jacksons popular coffee stall pitch outside the Greenyards. Another glaring example in the long history of Southern Knights poor record of man management.
    What a difference a player with Craig Jackson’s rugby nous would have made to the Knights , both last night and in the longer term , at least a class above anything on show in the Knights ranks last night. An ex captain with a good coaching brain as well , a Melrose man long before the Knights existed. It must have been sweet for Craig Jackson last night to show just how much of an error the Melrose franchise had made…
    Stirling Wolves on the other hand have pulled off a master stroke in being receptive to Craig Jackson’s plea to involve him in their Super 6 squad after his return from injury , a real leap of faith which has been repaid tenfold by Jackson who has been a huge asset to the Wolves over the past few years and looks like continuing to be so.
    Well done to the Wolves for recognising and putting faith in Jackson’s undoubted talent and commitment and really not much more you can say about the Knights. The last Southern Knights game in a franchise that has been an incredibly negative , disappointing and divisive process and ultimately an abject lesson in how not to run a club…
    Well beyond time for change in the Melrose management hierarchy and an ideal opportunity to implement some fresh blood when the structure changes next year , too many have outstayed their usefulness and new broom urgently required. Melrose will continue to struggle if they don’t remove a lot of the baggage that the Super 6 helped create. History will tell that the multitude of ex Knights players that have departed the club and flourished elsewhere cannot all be wrong….
    Huge uncertainty around what lies ahead next year however likely to be the clubs with the deepest pockets that will benefit most from this change in structure. The clubs in the top league will be paying players and there could end up being quite a significant imbalance on the player roster between the clubs in the league. As has already been highlighted in this article , Stirling County are going to be streets ahead of their fellow teams in the league if they keep the majority of the players currently playing with the Wolves …
    For Melrose , who knows , they will discover yet another means of making a mess of things and in doing so undoubtedly alienate many more players and supporters..

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