Super Series Sprint: Watsonians squeeze past belligerent Boroughmuir Bears

Late solo try from Mason Cullen salvages two bonus points for Meggetland men

Neil Irvine-Hess on the charge for Watsonians against Boroughmuir Bears. Image: Fred Palmer.
Neil Irvine-Hess on the charge for Watsonians against Boroughmuir Bears. Image: Fred Palmer.

Boroughmuir Bears 29

Watsonians 32

DAVID BARNES @ Meggetland

THEY had to dig deep and their head coach, Stevie Scott, stressed afterwards that he wasn’t entirely satisfied with his team’s performance, but Watsonians did enough to get a bonus-point win on the road against a Boroughmuir Bears side who battled to the end. This victory lifts the reigning champions to the top of the Super Series table – at least until the result of the Ayrshire Bulls versus Heriot’s game is registered on Saturday evening.

“There was loads of positive things in the game, but there was also things that are unacceptable for this group of players, which we normally wouldn’t do,” said Scott afterwards. “Once I calm down and move away from it, I’ll be able to recognise that we got five points from the match, and we played three players who are schoolboys or schoolboy age  Jack Brown, Hector Patterson and Ben Riley so its not all bad.

“But as I said to the players in the huddle afterwards, if I accept that [performance] then I’m not doing this team justice. We’ve seen glimpses of what we can do but the consistency isn’t there yet. We can score tries but defensively we need to tighten up because we are conceding too easily.”

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Scott also reflected on the growing injury list he is dealing with. “Karl Main went off early tonight with a knee injury which doesn’t look good, Lomond MacPherson has a serious knee issue as well, Dom Coetzer has a broken hand, Lee Millar has a groin issue, Ross Graham is out for the rest of the campaign and Murdo MacAndrew, who wasn’t going to be play next week anyway because its his brother’s wedding, has a concussion,” he said. “That obviously takes its toll, but on the other side it gives people opportunities.”

Watsonians were straight out of the blocks and into the lead when Seb Cecil collected a suspiciously flat McAndrew pop from base of a ruck right in front the Bears posts and strolled home unchallenged

Some tight decisions were’t going Bears’ way – such as a Watsonians crossing penalty which wasn’t given and a kick that gave the visitors 30 yards despite bouncing just out on the full  but a lot of the pressure they found themselves under was self-imposed, with a lackadaisical Callum Ramm kick charged down and a wild forward pass both easily avoidable. It felt like a matter of time before the hapless hosts fell further behind, and sure enough, visiting hen skipper Cal Davies barged over the line off the back of a powerful line-out drive on 12 minutes.

It wasn’t quite all one-way traffic, and Bears bit back by repeating Watsonians’ trick, with Corey Tait getting the downward pressure off the back of line-out maul, but Tom Quinlan couldn’t add the conversion on this occasion.

Watsonians really should have extended their lead when Bears winger Josh King went off his feet at a ruck right in front of his posts, but Jason Baggott‘s shot at goals clattered the left post. The South African-born playmaker made amends with a slightly tricker effort after Quinlan tackled Luis Ball high a few minutes later.

If it looked like turning into a procession for the reigning Sprint and Championship holders, that notion was turned on its head when Bears scored a scorcher on 36 minutes, with the back-tracking Joe Jenkins doing well to collect Baggott’s long clearance over his shoulder then exchanging passes with Callum Ramm, before the winger delivered the killer offload back inside to Alex Thom, who scuttled home through Watsonians’ fragmented defence from 30-yards.

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Then, within two minutes of the restart, Bears had burst into the lead when Josh King snaffled scrappy Watsonian line-out ball, Ruairidh Swan broke into the visiting 22 after catching the opposition out with an ostentatious dummy, and Trystan Andrews powered over a few phases later. Quinlan added the conversion.

Watsonians knuckled down and bull-dozed their way to a second Davies try off anoether line-out maul, which put them back into the lead, but Bears had the bit between their teeth and when Tait did well to win a penalty over the tackled man they went for the posts. Quinlan’s successful effort tied the contest.

Watsonians had a sustained period of pressure five yards from Bears’ line and the home side initially did well to hold out, but they then shot themselves in the foot when they won a penalty which gave them a chance to relieve the pressure, only for Ramm to miss touch. This time their opponents came back hard, regaining the lead when Davies once again scored off the back of line-out maul.

As the final 10 minutes approached, Watsonians twice came within a whisker of scoring, first whenRiley came off his wing and coruscated through the Bulls midfield before Ramm fell on his own sword with a deliberate knock-on which earned him a yellow-card, then when replacement scrum-half Patterson stretched over the line but hreferee Ruairidh Campbell ruled he had lost the ball forward (subsequent television replays indicated that the grounding had been good but there was no TMO in operation so the man in the middle had to call it as he saw it in real time).

In the end, a Baggott offside penalty from wide on the left was all Watsonians got for that long period of pressure, making it a 10 point game with just four minutes left to play.

That proved decisive, because it meant Mason Cullen‘s spectacular slaloming try from 60-yards in overtime salvaged two bonus points from the game for Bears, but not the win they were looking for.

“It’s frustrating that we started slowly again, and we are making critical errors which team sare punishing, so I wouldn’t say we are beating ourselves but we are making life hard for ourselves,” reflected Bears head coach Graham Shiel afterwards. “Having said that, to stay in the game, and to dominate Watsonians at key times in the game, is encouraging.

“We just need to be better at playing in the right areas of the pitch, and exit better when we are under pressure then get a chance to get out.”

“I think there are a lot of more positives than negatives. Against both Heriot’s and Watsonians we showed real power, which is something we didn’t have before, so we feel like we’re making progress, and we’re now looking forward to signing off with a positive performance and result away to the Southern Knights next Saturday.”


Teams –

Boroughmuir Bears: C Ramm; M Cullen, A Thom (A Scott. 70), S Robeson, J Jenkins; T Quinlan (G Paul 63), R Swan (B Young 70); B Sweet (I Carmichael 57), C Tait, M McGinley (L Alessandri 709), J King, J Fisher (S Whittaker 73), C Keddie © (J Blyth-Lafferty 57), S McGinley, T Andrews (K Westlake 67).

Watsonians: J Brown; R McKnight (B Riley 50), G Pringle, S King, A Guthrie; J Baggott, M McAndrew (H Patterson 25); H Courtney (C Davidson 79), C Davies ©, R Bratton, L Ball, J Berrisford (K Watt 64), S Cecil, K Main (J Morris 61), N Irvine-Hess (F Duraj 79).

Referee: R Campbell


Scorers –

Boroughmuir Bears: Tries: Tait, Thom, Andrews, Cullen; Con: Quinlan 2, Ramm; Pen: Quinlan.

Watsonians: Tries: Cecil, Davies 3; Con: Baggott 3; Pen: Baggott 2.

Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir Bears): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 5-14; 5-17; 10-17; 12-17; 17-17; 19-17; 19-22; 22-22; 22-27; 22-29; 22-32; 27-32; 29-32.


Man-of-the-Match: Watsonians captain Cal Davies led from the front as Watsonians … except from when he was scoring three times from the back (of his team’s powerful line-out maul).

Talking point: If Watsonians are going to add another SuperSeries/Super6 piece of silverware to their trophy cabinet they are going to have to do it the hard way, with several of their most influential players out injured and the school athletics track at Myreside forcing them into a nomadic existence for four consecutive weeks. A mighty challenge in their final regular season match awaits next Friday away to Ayrshire Bulls, and if they win that to finish top they won’t even get to play their final at home. Stevie Scott’s coaching and man-management skills are being vigorously tested during this debut campaign as head coach.


Yellow cards –

Boroughmuir Bears: Ramm (68mins)

Super Series Sprint: top spot up for grabs when Heriot’s visit Ayrshire Bulls

About David Barnes 4026 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.