Southern Knights 46
Boroughmuir Bears 27
ALAN LORIMER @ The Greenyards
BOTH sides did their best to bolster the image of Super6 by serving up a record ten try feast that split 6-4 in favour of a Greenyards team which dominated for much of the game on their way to achieving back-to-back wins over their opponents.
Indeed, such was the forward superiority of the Knights in that first 30 minute period that the Bears struggled to break free from their own half, and it is to the credit of the Meggetland men that they bounced back after a torrid first half and ended up with a four try bonus point.
There was no doubting the winners, though. The Knights always appeared to respond to any narrowing of the scoreline and throughout played in a composed manner, varying their points of attack and scoring six good tries.
Individually, Fraser Thomson showed a welcome return to form and on the plastic pitch made for his type running game the full-back frequently showed why he was regarded as such a dangerous player in previous seasons’ Premierships. Others to impress for the Knights were the former Hawick second-row Dalton Redpath, scrum-half Struan Hutchison and No 8 Neil Irvine-Hess.
“There’s lot to be happy about over the last two weeks and the Christmas period when we went down to Newcastle,” said victorious head coach Rob Chrystie. “In today’s game I thought we attacked pretty well, although there were opportunities left out there … which is fine. The pack showed pretty good dominance which is great for the next game coming up [away to Ayrshire Bulls].”
“One thing we’ll look at is why we conceded 27 points. There just has to be a better emphasis on defence. We used the maul well but we also attacked with width. It’s important that you get good balance in your game and I thought we showed that today.”
For the Bears, it is a case of work in progress as their coach Graham Shiel conceded after his side’s sixth defeat. “There’s no easy solution to this,” he said. “I’m happy that we’re showing ambition and I’m happy with the way we’re attacking, but we have to have a stronger defence and become harder to break down.”
Shiel also hinted that the jam might be spread a bit too thin with three teams in Edinburgh. “Quality players to play at this level are hard to come by,” he reasoned. “Maybe in time that might change. It’s not easy to have a strong enough squad to play consistently at this level.”
The Knights’ early pressure paid rapid dividends, first with a penalty goal by Jason Baggott, and then an unconverted try by Ciaran Whyte from a long looping pass by Baggott, creating an eight point lead in as many minutes.
Whyte did not have long to wait before registering his second touchdown, this time Hutchison the creator with a clever grubber-kick that sat up for the Knights’ wing to dot down at his leisure. Baggot’s conversion putting his side ahead by 15-0.
After what seemed an interminable period of play trapped inside their own half, the Bears finally broke free and when they exacted an offside penalty, scrum-half Kyle McGhie kicked the goal.
The Knights immediately hit back with a penalty kick by Baggott and then increased theirlead by adding a third try, this time Grant Shiells scoring from close range after Ruaridh Knott had brushed off two tacklers with a powerful surge. Baggott then added further misery for the Bears by converting the try .
From the restart, Boroughmuir capitalised with good work from Jordan Edmunds, the wing charging down Baggott’s attempted clearance kick before controlling the ball to touch down. McGhie added the conversion to leave the Bears trailing 25-10 at the break.
A determined start to the second half resulted in a solo try for the Bears’ centre Greg Cannie, but the Knights quickly responded with a driving maul try by Fraser Renwick, converted by Baggott.
Not to be outdone, Renwick’s opposite number, Mesu Dolokotu, rumbled over from close range, and McGhie once again converted.
Tom Galbraith came off the bench to score the Knights’ sixth try, before Cammy Gray ended a bout of slick handling with the Bears’ bonus point try.
The final score, a maul try, was claimed by Renwick, and Baggott’s conversion completed what was the highest scoring game thus far in the Super6 series
Southern Knights: F Thomson (B Colvine 70); P Anderson (L Myelase-Julyan 73), J Jenkins, G Wood (T Galbraith 70), C Whyte; J Baggott, S Hutchison; G Shiells (S Gunn 40), R Anderson (F Renwick 45), E Mcquillan (C Young 55) , D Redpath, A Runciman (C Crookshanks), R Knott, D Taylor (A Gregory 73), N Irvine-Hess.
Boroughmuir Bears: G Faulds; C Gray, R Kerr, G Cannie (R McCallum 54), J Edmunds; C Laidlaw (M Cimprich 73), K McGhie (M Johnstone 71); A McWilliam (M Downer 73), G Shannon (M Dolokotu 54), D Winning (R Montgomery 72), E Stewart, T Drennan (W Inglis 59), G Brown, S McGinley, C Keddie.
Referee: F Brown
Southern Knights: Tries: Whyte 2, Shiells, Renwick 2, Galbraith; Cons: Baggott 5; Pens: Baggott 2.
Boroughmuir Bears: Tries: Edmunds, Cannie, Dolokotu, Gray; Cons: McGhie 2; Pen: McGhie.
Scoring Sequence (Southern Knights first): 3-0; 8-0; 13-0; 15-0; 15-3; 18-3; 23-3; 25-3; 25-8; 25-10 (h-t) 25-15; 30-15; 32-15; 32-20; 32-22; 37-22; 39-22; 39-27; 44-27; 46-27.
Man-of-the-Match: Fine performances by Dalton Redpath, Ruaridh Knott, Neil Irvine-Hess in the Knights’ forward pack and by Struan Hutchison, Joe Jenkins and Fraser Thomson behind the scrum, all made these players contenders, but for his ability to snap up two first half tries and put his side in a commanding position Ciaran Whyte just edges it.
Talking point: Was it the 4G pitch at The Greenyards that made this match such a high scoring affair, or was it that both sides have not developed an iron curtain defence? Whatever the reason, it was refreshing to see so much movement of the ball. The contrast to finger-tip play is of course the maul which remains a formidable weapon for Southern Knights who used it to good effect for two of their tries.