Super6: Southern Knights move clear of Watsonians at top of table

Borderers open up space between themselves and the chasing pack with emphatic win over their nearest challengers

Southern Knights openside Allan Ferrie is tackled. Image: Bill McBurnie
Southern Knights openside Allan Ferrie is tackled. Image: Bill McBurnie

Southern Knights 25

Watsonians 8

ALAN LORIMER @ The Greenyards

SOUTHERN KNIGHTS widened the gap at the top of the FOSROC Super6 after powering their way to victory over a Watsonians’ side weakened by the midweek departures of two key front-row players. 

Just how much the visitors were affected by the loss of props Steven Longwell and Matias Sonzogni Argiro was difficult to gauge. Certainly there was no diminution in the effort put in by Watsonians and although Southern Knights were the dominant force for much of the game the Melrose-based side was made to fight hard for their win.

Watsonians’ coach Fergus Pringle refused to accept that the midweek events affected his side’s performance. “We knew last week they were going. The guys were sufficiently switched on not to be affected. We made a few errors at crucial times and it’s these small margins that counted. But there was some good attacking play and I thought the defence was very good,” he said.


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Well though Watsonians played, they still came off second best to a Knights’ side that was on song. “We created some really good opportunities tonight. The boys were on it. This is a really good group which is working very hard. We had a really good week in training and real clarity on what we’re trying to do,” enthused Rob Chrystie, the Knights coach.

What was not in doubt was the commitment by both sides in defence. The hits were both visible and audible and if you needed persuading that this level is a considerable step-up from Premiership rugby then this game provided ample evidence.

Melrose gradually gained dominance in the forward battle – allowing stand-off Jason Baggott time to launch some effective backline moves – credit for which must go to the enduring and at times unseen work of James Head and Angus Runciman in the engine room, who ensured that the Knights’ pack were always packing the heavier punch.

After an opening nine minutes of fierce defence by both sides  it was the Knights who had a first chance of points only for Baggott to miss with a far from simple kick.

But the indications were that the Greenyards men were beginning to turn the screw albeit they failed to capitalise after a flat pass from Baggott sent Patrick Anderson on course to the try line. The Watsonias scramble defence was up to the mark and a dangerous situation was dealt with.

Then when Shaun Gunn sailed through a gap – again Baggott’s pass creating the space –  a try should have ensued, but huge credit to the Watsonians’ defence which stopped Iain Moody inches from the line.

Finally, the Knights put points on the board with a Baggott penalty answered minutes later by a similar effort from his opposite number Marc Morrison.

The game desperately needed a try and those praying for such a score were rewarded with a touchdown from hooker Fraser Renwick after Southern Knights had kicked to the corner and driven hard for the points.

Baggott failed with his conversion attempt but the stand-off quickly atoned by adding the extras to a try by Gunn, after Harry Borthwick showed his power on the hoof with a searing run which allowed the Knights’ forwards to show their lethal strength in the five metre zone.

Trailing 15-3, Watsonians had to produce a score to stay in the game and this they did with a try just before half-time by number Harry Fisher. Morrison did the damage with a cross kick over the Knights’ defence that allowed Fisher, with the aid of a touch by Sam Pecqueur under pressure from Harvey Elms, to pounce on the ball for a vital score.

Watsonians’ hopes of narrowing the gap further were dented early in the second half by a second penalty goal by Baggott, and then with Kwagga Van Niekerk in the bin following a high tackle on Murdo MacAdnrew, the Knights put their driving maul into action yet again, this time earning a penalty try, after Karl Main was deemed to have collapsed the moving mass.

Watsonians tried desperately to salvage something from the game with a late attempts to breach the Knights line, but it came to naught, leaving Southern Knights clear winners, and confirming their status as title front-runners.

 

Teams –

Southern Knights: J Jenkins; P Anderson, N Godsmark, C Scott, S Pecqueur; J Baggott, M McAndrew; S Gunn, F Renwick, E McLaren, A Runciman, J Head, H Borthwick, A Ferrie, I Moody. Substitutes used: R Anderson, G Shiells, C Crookshanks, D Redpath, R Knott, C Jones, A Mitchell, I Sim.

Watsonians: J Forbes; H Elms, L Berg, S King, L Macpherson; M Morrison, R Frostwick; H Courtney, C Davies, A Williams, L Ball, M Badenhorst, K Van Niekerk, K Main, H Fisher. Substitutes used: R Graham, S Grahamslaw, N Borel, K Watt, C Wilson, R Cullen, D Coetzer

Referee: B Blain

Scorers –

Southern Knights: Tries: Renwick, Gunn, pen try; Con: Baggott; Pens: Baggott 2.

Watsonians: Try: Fisher; Pen: Morrison.

Scoring sequence (Southern Knights first): 3-0; 3-3; 8-3; 13-3; 15-3; 15-8 (h-t) 18-8; 25-8.

Yellow cards –

Southern Knights: McLaren (71mins)

Watsonians: Van Niekerk (50mins), Main (47mins), Berg (71mins)

 

Man-of-the-Match: There were candidates galore for MOTM, not least the Knights loose-head prop Shaun Gunn, but the player who caught the eye and looks like he could step up a grade is the Knights’ flanker Harry Borthwick.

Talking point: Southern Knights are proving hard to beat at The Greenyards as indeed were their previous incarnation, Melrose. If they are to be heading towards the title they will have to reproduce the form they showed against Watsonians when they they play Heriots at The Greenyards next weekend. As for Watsonians, they will surely bounce back, and with their assistant coach Nikki Walker suggesting they want to play a more expansive game the Myreside men could produce a more enjoyable style of rugby – and that is what Super6 really needs.


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About Alan Lorimer 183 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.

3 Comments

  1. Spot on about Harry Borthwick, one of the pro teams should definitely take a look. Renwick also gets a shout because he does the basics to a high standard which is crucial at hooker. Really enjoyable game, great intensity, big hits and there was a bit of bite, great Friday night fayre.

  2. I’ve been involved in the club game for a long time. That game tonight was several levels above the current club game and as good as I’ve seen for a hell of a long time.
    More importantly the guys involved are loving it and they understand they can’t play like that 20 or 25 time a season.
    It’s growing, it’s right it’s on the TV.and it’s a young man’s game. Let it breath we are the only country in the world who puts so much effort into creating rules to stop young guys playing rugby and having a pathway that just allows those who wish to see how good they can be and for us all to enjoy their journey when it touches us
    I’m 66 im an old fart i have a club blazer I love rugby I love my club.but most of all I love players moving on to better things nowing in some way we perhaps helped them on their journey.

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