Future XV 0
GARY HEATLY @ Myreside
WATSONIANS will head into the Super Series Championship play-offs off the back of a solid if unspectacular win over the Future XV at Myreside. The youngsters huffed and puffed and had plenty of possession, but ultimately lost out and are still winless after 11 games together at this level. This was not a vintage encounter by any means, but both sides defended pretty well over the piece which meant that there were just three tries scored and they were all by forwards.
After this 21-0 victory, Watsonians finish the regular season with nine wins and three defeats in third spot and will now fine tune things ahead of their semi-final away to second placed Ayrshire Bulls next Saturday. They hope to have captain Neil Irvine-Hess back from injury for that one.
“I am actually really pleased,” insisted Watsonians head coach Nikki Walker. “It would have been easy for us, with the game not really meaning much in terms of league standings, to turn up and not really put a performance in, but to win 21-0 and stop the Future XV – who have attacked really well of late – from scoring was a big positive.
“To ‘nil’ any team is good and in this game it showed that the boys’ attitude was spot on and we will take some momentum into the semi-final from that. A few guys were playing in different positions and a few guys put their hands up, so it’ll make selection for next week interesting. All the focus is on the semi-final and we are looking forward to it.”
In the opening minutes, Watsonians had most of the possession, but the Future XV defence stood firm. The youngsters then got themselves going in attack and when home winger George Pringle stuck out an arm to stop a pass 30 metres out from his own line he was yellow carded, but from the resultant penalty kick to touch the Futures lost their own line-out.
Just before Watsonians were back to 15, the Future XV worked the ball through a number of phases in the home half with captain Tom Currie, stand-off Matthew Urwin and full-back Fergus Watson carrying well. However, the defence could not be breached and as the first quarter of the match came and went it was still 0-0.
With both sets of backs struggling to breakthrough, Watsonians’ used the line-out drive to good affect to score the game’s first points in the 25th minute. It was their hooker Patrick Harrison, the Edinburgh Rugby man, who eventually touched down and when stand-off Dom Coetzer converted it was 7-0.
Soon after, a neat delayed pass by Urwin put Future XV centre Ben Salmon shooting into space and while it came to nothing in the end, the visiting side were showing some encouraging signs in attack if they could just add composure into the mix.
They then went through numerous phases in the home 22, but just could not find the half gap needed or the final pass and eventually the ball was lost forward with 34 minutes gone.
Before half-time, Watsonians’ winger Freddie Owsley found some space and kicked ahead while, for the Future XV, Urwin’s clearance kick bounced up nicely for his number 14 Finn Douglas to run onto, but neither chance resulted in points.
Just before half-time, the Future XV had a chance off the back of a line-out before hooker Jerry Blyth-Lafferty knocked on under pressure and then, a couple of moments later, back-row Craig Nolan just ran out of space on the stand-side touchline.
The Future XV were down at half-time, but had had plenty of possession to give them hope for the second period, but they were were dealt a blow when No 8 Currie was forced off with an arm injury to be replaced by Ollie Duncan. And in the 46th minute, Watsonians doubled their advantage when Harrison dived over from short range for a try and Coetzer converted.
A strong break from recent replacement Duncan showed that the Future XV were still in this one and, just before the hour mark, replacement back Jack Hocking made good yardage. However, the final pass went astray and that was becoming the story of the Future XV’s day – the accuracy needed was not there and a lot of their attacks were quite hesitant.
With eight minutes to go, Watsonians made sure of the win with a third try. After Pringle had gone close, sub scrum-half Murray Scott quickly fed back-row Karl Main who went over from short range. Coetzer converted and it was 21-0.
That was how it ended and, as the search for a win goes on, Future XV co-coach Scott Forrest said: “I am frustrated, the feeling in the huddle at the end was quite flat in a way because it was one of our poorer performances.
“We had enough chances out there and in terms of territory we played in the right areas which you could say was a positive, but we looked blunt which was disappointing because in previous weeks we have looked much more threatening.
“We weren’t accurate enough in contact and we could not get our phase play going as we’d have liked.
“There is one game left against Boroughmuir Bears [a rearranged fixture next Friday] and we have said to the boys let’s go out and give it everything because we don’t want to feel like this again after that one.”
Watsonians: M Reid; G Pringle, L Berg (J Baggott 66), S King, F Owsley; D Coetzer, M McAndrew (M Scott 56); C Davidson (C Murphy 65), P Harrison (F Duraj 65), B Bratton (G Scougall 56), K Watt (A Scopes 56), J Berrisford, S Cecil©, K Main, B Muncaster (L Ball 41).
Future XV: F Watson; Finn Douglas (J Ventisei 43), B Salmon, K Yule (C Ferrie 52), A Caqusau (J Hocking 52); M Urwin, F Burgess; T Banatvala (R Deans 10), J Blyth-Lafferty, O Blyth-Lafferty (C Norrie 47), R Burke (M Brogan 63), R Hart, C Nolan, Freddy Douglas, T Currie© (O Duncan 43).
Referee: Jonny Perriam
Watsonians: Tries: Harrison 2, Main. Cons: Coetzer 3.
Future XV: No scorers.
Scoring sequence (Watsonians first): 5-0; 7-0 (h-t) 12-0; 14-0, 19-0; 21-0.
Yellow card –
Watsonians: Pringle (7 mins)
Player-of-the-Match: For the Future XV, stand-off Matthew Urwin looked good at times while back-row Craig Nolan carried hard. For Watsonians, back-row Karl Main was strong on both sides of the ball, but for his two tries home hooker Patrick Harrison takes the award.
Talking point: Nikki Walker was happy with this win, but Watsonians know they will have to step things up a number of notches when they take on Ayrshire Bulls next weekend in the play-off semi-finals. They have already beaten the Millbrae men twice this season and it should be a good contest.