Boroughmuir Bears 32
Southern Knights 14
STEPHEN BRUNSDON @Meggetland
BOROUGHMUIR BEARS produced a clinical display to record their second Super6 Sprint Series victory over the Southern Knights in as many weekends. A brace of tries for teenager Jerry Blyth-Lafferty was the icing on the cake for Graham Shiel’s side, who now head to Goldenacre in a fortnight’s time with a top-four finish firmly in their sights.
“A lot has changed from last weekend and to be fair, it’s been a far better week in training for us,” said Shiel. “We were a lot tidier all-round in our performance, we managed our position on the pitch better and took our opportunities when they came as well. Having said that, we also missed a few chances, but overall: very satisfied.”
From the off, Boroughmuir dominated possession as indiscipline from the visitors pegged them back in their own half. The hosts got to the line twice but staunch defence from the Knights forced a knock-on. However, the Bears didn’t have to wait too long before breaking the deadlock after nine minutes.
Blyth-Lafferty – fresh from the Bears’ Under 18 setup – finished off a punishing driving maul from a penalty line-out from close range to open the score, with the conversion just straying wide of the uprights.
Bears nearly had a second five minutes later as a strong Knights attack inside the hosts’ 22 came undone by a superb breakdown steal from captain Scott McGinley on the five-yard line, leading to what would have been a stunning length-of-the-field counter via Trystan Andrews, whose kick ahead was gathered by Joe Jenkins before the ball was knocked on at halfway.
If there was any frustration at this missed opportunity for the home side, it was quickly swept away when scrum-half Murray Johnstone bagged the second try after a superb snipe around the fringes of a ruck just before the 20-minute marker. This time, Harry Mercer’s conversion was good, and Bears led 12-0.
Knights struggled to get into the game early doors and their cause wasn’t helped by a dysfunctional set-piece which gave Bears free ball, particularly at the line-out. When they did put phases together, the visitors coughed up possession far too easily.
Full-back Keiran Clark produced one of the Knights’ few opportunities just before the half-hour mark by brilliantly slicing through Bear’ defence, but he held on to possession rather than pass to on-rushing winger Billy Wara and ended up finding himself isolated.
That was as much success as the Knights could muster in the opening period, as Mercer punished an offside infringement four minutes from half-time to put Bears 15-0 up at the break.
“The first half was really disappointing,” said Knights head coach Bruce Ruthven. “A big emphasis from eight days ago was that we needed to start well. If we started the first half like we finished the second, we would have been right in the game instead of throwing caution to the wind.
“Boroughmuir were far better and far more accurate than they were in the first half last week and credit to them, but we needed to be better in the se- piece and made life difficult for ourselves.”
If Ruthven wanted a reaction from his side after half-time, it wasn’t immediately forthcoming as Bears powered to their second try of the encounter through captain McGinley, who bulldozed his way past Wara on the stand-side touchline. Mercer missed the extras, but Boroughmuir almost out of sight already..
Things got worse for the Knights as they lost prop Grant Shiells to a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on as Bears threatened to cut loose. The subsequent penalty line-out proved too powerful for the Borderers and Blyth-Lafferty crashed over for his second.
Try as they might, the Knights simply couldn’t match the intensity and pace of the Bears in the second half. With half-backs Mercer and Johnstone replaced by Connor Allan and Ruairidh Swan, respectively, the Bears stretched their legs even more as Jenkins ran in almost unopposed down his wing after a series of lovely offloads out of contact.
Allan’s touchline conversion – his first points on his debut for the Bears – was slotted to increase the lead to an unassailable 32-0 after 60 minutes.
For all that the game was essentially done and dusted, Knights didn’t roll over, and full-back Clark looked to launch an attack from inside his own half, but winger Aidan Cross put a foot in touch and the chance was gone..
Visiting No 8 Harry Borthwick also had a chance from a penalty advantage for the visitors, galloping up-field deep into the Bears’ 22 before being hauled down with precious few supporting players to offload to.
The Knights did get their reward for all the enterprise when replacement hooker Duncan Hood scored a sensational try with 10 minutes left, slewing from the right wing with a side-step a back would have been proud of to sprint in under the posts.
Nathan Chamberlain added the extras from in front of the posts before Cross’s late effort in the corner gave the scoreline a degree of respectability and some positives for head coach Ruthven to take into consideration ahead of their second post-split match with Heriot’s next weekend.
“I thought we played really well in the second half, showed our true character and played to our strengths,” he said. “It’s just a shame we didn’t start like that. We’ll take these positives into next weekend and have a look at what we can improve on. We’ve got a lot of talented individual players and we just need that all to gel for next week.”
As for his counterpart Shiel, a week’s break will not be traded as a rest period as his side prepare for their Edinburgh derby against Heriot’s in fortnight’s time.
“We’ll need to step up against them, they’re a good team with some big physical players,” he said. “We’ll have to play smart, get our set-piece better, but that’s what Super6 is all about, it’s not supposed to be easy, and it will be a big challenge.”
Boroughmuir Bears: T Brown; C Ramm, D Munn, R McCallum (Kerr 67), J Jenkins; H Mercer (Allan 56), M Johnstone (Swann 50); C Smith (Sweet 56), J Blyth-Lafferty (Duraj 63), M McGinley (Goodwin 53), E Ferrie, H Bain (Stewart 63), L McConnell, S McGinley©, T Andrews (Mncube 64).
Southern Knights: K Clark (Asfar 67); A Cross, R Chalmers, C Scott (Thompson 75), B Wara; N Chamberlain, M Redpath (Thompson 50); G Shiells, L Kirk (Hood 40), M Woodward (T Brown 53), D Redpath, R Brown, S Derrick, W Nelson (C Renwick 67), H Borthwick.
Referee: Ross Mabon
Boroughmuir Bears: Tries: Blyth-Lafferty 2, Johnstone, S McGinley, Jenkins; Cons: Mercer, Allan; Pens: Mercer.
Southern Knights: Tries: Hood, Cross; Cons: Chamberlain 2.
Scoring Sequence (Boroughmuir Bears first): 5-0; 10-0, 12-0, 15-0 (h-t) 20-0; 25-0; 30-0, 32-0; 32-5; 32-7; 32-12; 32-14.
Yellow Card –
Southern Knights: G Shiells
Man-of-the-Match: Two tries on his debut was an impressive display for a player just out of age-level rugby, but Jerry Blyth-Lafferty looked every bit the seasoned veteran around the park as well. He was a big presence at the breakdown, made tackles where needed and generally caused the Knights no end of problems in the loose. An all-round performance from the youngster and one which will no doubt give Graham Shiel plenty of optimism ahead of next season’s Super6 Championship campaign.
Talking point: Shipping 12 points early on to a side like Boroughmuir Bears is always going to give you a mountain to climb and the Bears kicked off where they finished last weekend by taking their chances when they arose. Shiel’s side leapt out of the blocks and it was the pace and intensity which proved too much for the Knights to withstand in the first half. Accurate, clinical and agile, Boroughmuir just never let up and ran out deserved winners on the day.