Boroughmuir Bears 26
Southern Knights 21
DAVID BARNES @ Meggetland
THERE wasn’t an awful lot at stake in this Super Series Sprint 5th/6th place play-off match, but it was keenly enough contested by two sidesi who could do with some positive momentum to take into the Championship which will kick-off towards the end of the summer. However, the main talking point amongst the coaches afterwards was on the need to tighten up officiating standards to keep pace with the progress the teams believe they are making on the park.
“At the end of the day, this is about developing officials as well as players,” said Boroughmuir Bears head coach Graham Shiel. “At the moment, the game is moving on in the way that teams are playing it and I don’t think the officiating is moving along with that.
“The refereeing of the set-piece – scrum and maul – is inconsistent,” he continued. “It is a really difficult area to referee, I get that, but that is what the competition is now about, and it’s not being managed well enough. It is the same for both teams, but it feels like we are coming off on the wrong side of a lot of these moments. It is difficult, but we’re pleased to get the win today and sign-off on this Sprint series on a positive note.”
Opposite number Alan Tait echoed those sentiments. “It’s all the coaches, so not just me who feels there are decisions being made that we just don’t understand,” he said. “We’ve been on the end of dominant scrums and dominant line-outs all year and been penalised, then when we find ourselves in that position we don’t get the penalties. We did [get those decisions] now and again [in this game], but we thought there was a few others today which were definite penalties and would have given us good field position, so it’s those things that are really frustrating.
“I’m a defence coach, that’s what I love doing and I really study that area, but it is carnage out there,” he continued. “Everybody is getting away with everything, and if we don’t stamp it out then we are damaging what we are trying to do with this competition.
“It stops a lot of the attractive rugby – teams coming in from the side, hands on the ball, players off their feet – it is just relentless every week. It seems to be an area where they have decided not to ref it, to let it go and worry about the big things, rather than the little things that make the game attractive.
“I wouldn’t have anybody touching the ball once it as at the back of a ruck – let the game flow – there is just too much nonsense going on in that area.
“As head coaches we’ve talked to JP Doyle [Scottish Rugby’s High Performance Referee Coach] who has told us what to expect from referees. We know they are not full-time, and it is not their fault as individuals, but we’ve just got to clean up the game around the breakdown area, to let us play a bit more.”
The deadlock in this match wasn’t broken until the 17th minute, when a period of pressure deep inside the Bears’ 22 eventually yielded a try for Knights, through No 8 Rudi Brown, who peeled off the back of a line-out maul and powered over the line, with Callum Grieve drilling home the conversion.
The hosts struck back through Corey Tait, who managed to slip in a neat side-step as he rampaged home from 30-yards, to set up an easy Tom Quinlan conversion, but the contest was only briefly tied, with Knights straight back on the offensive from the restart and scoring again through skipper Russell Anderson, once again off the back of a line-out maul.
Bears flanker Scott McGinley was yellow-carded at this point for pulling down at the maul, but they survived that 10 minute period without the loss of any further scores, andthey grabbed their second try to square the contest once again immediately after returning to full complement, with No 8 Trystan Andrews showing impressive pace to finish off a Callum Ramm initiated attack from deep, making it all-square again [14-14] at the break.
Knights wasted little time in reclaiming the initiative at the start of the second half, when Dan Gamble found himself trundling into a giant gap in the middle of the park, and although he was never going to have the gas to finish off himself, he had the wherewithal to send a well-timed pass to Gary Young, who then fed Adam Hall to skip under the posts.
The next 15 minutes were a game of cat and mouse, with Knights having the better of territory and possession but failing to make it count on the scoreboard, and then Bears clicked into gear and pulled level when Liam McConnell galloped through three tackles on his way to the line.
George Paul‘s conversion tied the contest again, and Bears then snatched the lead for the first time in the match when Jerry Blyth-Lafferty added the finishing touches to a powerful line-out maul.
Knights had several opportunities to snatch their first win of the campaign during the final five minutes, but paid the price for losing three line-outs on their own throw during the final five minutes.
“When you’re in a situation like the one we are in, you get used to being kicked when you are down – so you need a little bit of luck and you need a few decisions going your way,” lamented the defeated Tait.
“Donald Crawford is a guy who has come in through injuries, but he is a big player in terms of stature, and we were excited to see him go,” he added. “Unfortunately, he pulled up during the warm-up which left us with one back on the bench, so we were under pressure straight away.
“I had visions of it being a mess today, if I’m being honest, with losing Donald in the warm-up, so I’m just pleased with the way the guys stuck and we had chances to win it.”
Despite his team having won, Shiel was not quite as upbeat as Tait. “We expected Southern Knights to throw the kitchen sink at us today, and we didn’t handle it well,” he said. “We didn’t control the game, we didn’t take care of what we needed to take care of, and if we do that against teams higher up the league then we will be punished. So, we have a lot of work to do – but we knew that anyway.”
Boroughmuir Bears: C Ramm; M Cullen, A Thom, S Robeson©, J Jenkins; T Quinlan (G Paul 49), B Young (R Swan 49); I Carmichael, C Tait (J Blyth Lafferty 56), M McGinley (M Goodwin 43), J King, J Fisher (S Whittaker 62), L McConnell, S McGinley (K Westlake 54), T Andrews.
Southern Knights: K Clark; O Melville (C Davidson 42), P Anderson, A Hall, F Douglas; C Grieve, R Brand; C Greer ( J Dobie 42), R Anderson © (J Bett 74), D Gamble, C Skeldon, J Campbell (A Ferrie 54), G Young, S Derrick, R Brown (W Hopes 42).
Referee: Finlay Brown
Boroughmuir Bears: Tries: Tait, Andrews, McConnell, Blyth-Lafferty; Cons: Quinlan 2, Paul.
Southern Knights: Tries: Brown, Anderson, Hall; Con: Grieve 3.
Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir Bears first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 7-7; 7-12; 7-14; 12-14; 14-14 (h-t) 14-19; 14-21; 19-21; 21-21; 26-21.
Yellow cards –
Boroughmuir Bears: McGinley (30mins)