Boroughmuir Bears 12
Southern Knights 31
DAVID BARNES @ Meggetland
ON a horrendous night for any sort of rugby, the Southern Knights dug deep into their reserves of self-belief to harness the conditions and the opposition on the way to claiming their first win of the Super6 era after five previous failed attempts.
The result catapults them ahead of both the Bears and Stirling County into the play-off places, and with four games of the regular season left to play their destiny is very much in their own hands, although head coach Rob Chrystie insisted afterwards that the squad will not be looking any further ahead than next week’s match against the same opposition at The Greenyards.
“It has been a learning curve – how to manage that group when you are down – it would be easy to start blaming and the camp splitting, but the whole group have been brilliant,” he said. “They have worked hard behind the scenes to make sure we get better, but it is one game so we are not getting too carried away. The Bears will come down to us on Sunday with a point to prove so we have to press the reset button and put in a week of really good training on the back of that.
“I’m not interested in where we sit just now, I’m interested in putting in performances that we can back up,” he added. “I believe in this group, so we just need to keep working hard to get better, and we’ll end up where we end up.
Despite his determination to remain level-headed, Chrystie did admit that this was a result his team absolutely needed, and the fact that it was achieved in such treacherous conditions perhaps made it even more beneficial to morale.
The stand at Meggetland was packed, but the rest of the ground was – quite understandably – sparsely populated, and while the game was heavily punctuated by errors and niggle, there was enough rugged endeavour to keep those 673 hardy souls who braved the conditions engaged – if not quite bouncing on the edges of their seats.
Despite playing into the strong wind, the Knights worked their way into a 12 point lead during the first half hour with Gavin Wood and Ewan Mcquillin taking advantage after some clever kicking and good pressure forced the Bears into costly errors, but the home team struck back before the interval when winger Jordan Edmunds added his weight to a close-range line-out drive to claim the try.
“It is tough when you play 37 minutes into a blowing gale, manage the game so well and score two well-manufactured tries in relation to creating pressure, and then they kick into the 22 and score straight away – but the boys were very resilient at half-time and spoke very sensibly and clearly about what we needed to do, and we got there in the end,” said Chrystie.
The Knights got their third try from yet another close-range line-out drive, with Russell Anderson grounding the ball this time.
Australian blindside Jale Vakaloloma was recruited by Glasgow Warriors last summer principally as cover for the international windows, but shoulder surgery meant that he missed the first half of the season including the World Cup period, and last night presented him with his first opportunity to stretch his legs in a competitive match on these shores, and he offered himself up with a couple of forceful carries in the lead up to Ewan Stewart’s try, which pulled it back to a seven-point game.
But the Knights had the bit between their teeth, and they muscled their way back up field and after a sustained bombardment of the opposition’s line, Mcquillin rumbled over from close range for his second and his team’s bonus-point securing fourth try.
In the final few seconds, some good scavenging work by Ruaridh Knott and Dylan Traylor facilitated an opportunist score for Joseph Jenkins which rounded off the scoring.
Boroughmuir Bears: G Faulds; C Gray, A Russell (R Kerr 53), G Cannie, J Edmunds; C Laidlaw (M Cimprich 72), T Wilson (M Johnstone 59); G Thornton (A McWilliam 40), J Matthews (G Shannon 15), B Winning (M McGinley 30), E Stewart, C Atkinson (T Drennan 22), A Mncube (J Vakaloloma 49), S McGinley, C Keddie.
Southern Knights: F Thomsonm(B Colvine, 73); C Whyte, J Jenkins, G Wood (T Galbraith 73), P Anderson; J Baggott, S Hutchison; G Shiells, R Anderson (F Renwick 75), E Mcquillin (S Gunn 70), C Young (D Redpath 70), A Runciman (C Crookshank 76), R Knott, D Taylor, J Head.
Referee: David Sutherland
Boroughmuir Bears: Try: Edmunds, Stewart; Con: Laidlaw.
Southern Knights: Try: Wood, Mcquillan 2, Anderson, Jones; Con: Baggott 3.
Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir Bears first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12; 5-12; 7-12 (h-t) 7-17; 7-19; 12-19; 12-24; 12-26; 12-31.
Man-of-the-Match: Southern Knights tight-head Ewan Mcquillin waged in with two tries as part of an impressive all-round effort from the visiting pack.
Talking point: The Southern Knights have not had their troubles to seek on or off the park in recent months, but their destiny is still in their hands and have perhaps developed a resilience which could be crucial going into the business end of the campaign.