Boroughmuir Bears 35
DAVID BARNES @ Myreside
BOROUGHMUIR BEARS remain rooted to the foot of the Super6 table, but this first away win of the campaign means that they are now only one point behind Heriot’s with a trip to Goldenacre on the agenda next Saturday. They will go into that match with confidence boosted by the way they absorbed some ferocious onslaughts in this contest, and then attacked with real zip to score five tries.
A win next Saturday will mean a home 5th/6th place play-off match, against Heriot’s again, on Saturday 16th October, while a defeat next weekend will mean that wooden spoon decider is played at Goldenacre.
For Watsonians, this defeat confirmed that they cannot now catch Ayrshire Bulls or Southern Knights to qualify for the 1st/2nd place play-off, so they will play against Stirling County in the 3rd/4th play-off on Friday 17th October.
“We still made some errors, and we lost the initiative towards the end of the game, but every team has times when they are not on top and that’s when it comes down to how well you defend,” reflected Bears head coach Graham Shiel after the final whistle.”We put so much effort into that first 70 minutes to get ourselves into a good lead, I think the boys did begin to tire, but it was pleasing that we managed to have enough in the tank to get over the line.
“I’m really pleased for the guys because they’ve kept working hard and believing in what we’re trying to do. It would have been easy for them to have a different approach to things, but we’ve stayed competitive and I’m glad they are getting to see some reward for sticking to their guns.”
This was Watsonians fourth defeat on the bounce, and as their head coach, Fergus Pringle, pointed out afterwards, things are not going to get any easier with top-of-the-table Ayrshire Bulls providing the opposition at Myreside in their final match of the regular season next Sunday.
“Boroughmuir had a couple of chances in the first half and took them well,” he said. “Ill-discipline cost us at times, we got in good positions and couldn’t capitalise, and in the second half we knew they were going to keep the ball in hand and run at us and we just didn’t deal with it.
“That’s us on four losses in a row and there is a lack of confidence, and the heads are going down a little but quicker than they should. People talk about winning momentum, well, we’ve got it going the other way, and it doesn’t get any easier with the Bulls coming up next week. They are the form team in the league, playing the best rugby, so we need to front up if we are to have any chance of competing.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves and that wasn’t a good enough performance in terms of boys’ physicality and energy. It was pretty flat at times in the second half, and that’s not the standards we set.”
After a bright start by the hosts, Joe Reynolds nudged Watsonians ahead with a third minute penalty, but Bears bounced back immediately to take the lead when a powerful midfield burst from Robbie McCallum sent Keleem Barreto under the posts. Martin Cimprich – making his first start of the season at stand-off after Tom Pittman‘s midweeks switch to Jersey Reds – added the conversion.
Bears then stretched further ahead when the ball squirted loose from a Watsonians mix-up in midfield, and Duncan Munn scooped off the ground to send Cimprich on a 60-yard dash to the line. The Czechoslovakian international doing well to catch his breath and add the conversion for good measure.
Sam Daly appeared to pull Watsonians back into the game when a line-out drive rumbled over the Bears’ line, but referee Ian Kenny ruled that the No8 had been held up. The video footage suggested otherwise, but there is no TMO in Super6.
Unperturbed, Watsonians kept their foot on the gas and got their reward when Ross Graham squeezed in for a try under the shadow of the posts, to set up an easy conversion for Reynolds.
However, Boroughmuir sensed that they might be onto something here and were soon back in command, claiming a penalty try when home flanker Luis Ball was yellow carded for collapsing a line-out maul on the line.
Despite being a man down, Watsonians lifted their game and it took an excellent last-gasp tackle from McCallum in the last minute of the half to knock Lewis Berg into the corner flag after a sweeping home attack.
Watsonians continued to press hard at the start of the second half, while with Bears twice got themselves in a pickle when they had opportunities to clear their lines from the base, leading to Campbell Wilson eventually powering over for the home team’s second try.
Bears came again, and after some good interplay featuring Glen Faulds, Jamie Drummond, man-of-the-match Rhys Tait and Craig Keddie, a long looping pass from Barreto nearly sent Jordan Edmunds over on the left, but Watsonians managed to squeeze him out.
But there was no stopping McCallum five later when he bustled through a narrow gap between the centres and in for the bonus-point try, and then another fine passage of play led to Barreto claiming his second and his team’s fifth try, with Cimprich judging the wind well to slot his fourth successful conversion.
Watsonians worked hard to find a way back into the game, but adrenalin and confidence was coursing through the Bears line-up, with McCallum and Tait both wining excellent turnovers on the deck. Eventually, however, the pressure told and Campbell managed to find his way to the line for his second try of the match.
And with the last play of the match, Reynolds secured both the losing and the four-try bonus points for the hosts with an arching run into the corner.
Watsonians: H Elms; L MacPherson (R Cullen 69), L Berg ( J Drummond 53), D Coetzer (M Morrison 69), R Smith; J Reynolds, R Frostwick (M Scott 61); H Courtney (C Lamberton 61), F Graham (C Davies 61), A Williams (N Borel 71), K Watt, M Badenhorst, L Ball, C Wilson, S Daly (H Fisher 65).
Boroughmuir Bears: G Faulds; T Brown, D Munn, R McCallum, J Edmunds; M Cimprich ( K McGhie 76), K Barreto (M Johnstone 76); M Jones (R Dunbar 73), C McKenzie (J Drummond 47), M McGinley (S Habib 76), E Ferrie (M Mncube 65), J Fisher, C Keddie, R Tait, T Andrews (S McGinley 71).
Referee: I Kenny.
Watsonians; Try: Graham, Wilson 2, Reynolds; Cons: Reynolds 3; Pen: Reynolds.
Boroughmuir Bears: Tries: Barreto 2, Cimprich, Penalty Try, McCallum; Cons: Cimprich 4.
Scoring sequence (Watsonians first): 3-0; 3-5; 3-7; 2-12; 3-14; 8-14; 10-14; 10-21 (h-t) 15-21; 17-21; 17-26; 17-28; 17-33; 17-35; 22-35; 24-35; 29-35.
Yellow cards –
Watsonians: Ball (36mins)
Boroughmuir Bears: Fisher (77mins)
Man-of-the-Match: Hawick youngster Rhys Tait tackled everything and anything that moved, carried impressively with at least two clean line-breaks, and won some big turnovers as part of a Boroughmuir Bears pack who wouldn’t take a backward step.
Talking point: Well done to the Bears who thoroughly deserved this first win away from home of the season. They may have been up against a Watsonians side low on confidence, but Graham Shiel’s side also had their own psychological baggage to dispose of, and have shown great spirit over the campaign to get to this place.