Southern Knights 19
ALAN LORIMER @The Greenyards
IT’S what sports fans crave. So, bravo, Southern Knights for providing an upset in their final outing of the Super6 Sprint series with a win over Heriot’s from a performance that hugely atoned for less than laudatory efforts in previous matches by the Greenyards team.
Of course, this was hardly a top-billing match and the result still leaves Southern Knights as the basement team. But as the Greenyards consortium looks ahead to the resumption of semi-pro rugby in early August they can do so with a degree of optimism gained from the manner of their victory over a Heriot’s side containing several Edinburgh players.
After tasting Super6 success for the first time since being appointed as head coach of Southern Knights, Bruce Ruthven highlighted his side’s ability to stop what at times looked a free-flowing Heriot’s side. He said: “Today our defence came together. We started winning the small battles at the breakdown and to be fair got the rub of the green from the referee. I think in the first half we were a lot smarter in defence and got our reward for it.
“It was disappointing to lose a couple of tries in quick succession in the second half but that then tested the character of the boys. We deserved to win that game. We could have lost it in the last few minutes but grit and determination saw us through”.
Ruthven added: “Everybody stepped up today but in terms of development I thought Sam Derrick and Rudi Brown were outstanding. These are two young players still in the under-20 bracket pushing for national honours. They both played beyond their years today. They’ve both had good game time over the past few weeks. We’re now seeing the reward fo giving these guys opportunities.”
Heriot’s head coach Andrew Kelly put his side’s defeat down to a failure to make headway with ball in hand. “We lacked a bit of penetration going forward but their defence was very good. As a whole we lacked the killer edge especially in the that first quarter. Not converting in the first half was costly,” suggested the former Edinburgh professional.
On a perfect playing surface and with bright sunshine boosting the endorphin count the paucity of points scored in the first half seemed in dissonance with the conditions. The reason: well, it was simply that defences ruled OK.
And notably that of the Southern Knights, who in the first quarter had to tackle twice as much as the men from Goldenacre, whose steady supply of possession and a willingness to put the ball wide added up to constant threats in attack.
Fortunately for Knights, Callum Grieve twice saved the day with timely tackles when Heriot’s worked overlaps on the left flank. Sadly, though, Grieve was forced to leave the field five minutes before half-time after suffering a bout of sickness. The other Knight to impress in the tackling department was Paddy Anderson, the winger setting the tone for the home side with crucial interventions to check Heriot’s surges.
Finally Knights were rewarded for their first-quarter endeavours when they earned a penalty just outside the Heriot’s 22. From the ensuing line-out in the corner, Fraser Renwick charged at the line and when the ball was recycled flanker Allan Ferrie crashed over for the game’s opening try, converted by Nathan Chamberlain to give his side a 7-0 interval lead.
The expectation was that Heriot’s would produce a second-half backlash, but in the event quite the contrary ensued with Southern Knights adding to the points tally with a couple of tries. The first came from aggressive defence that forced a handling effort in the Heriot’s backline. Robbie Chalmers scooped up the loose ball before breaking clear and then passing to Aidan Cross, who had the pace to outstrip Sam Pecqueur for a try under the posts, leaving Chamberlain with an easy conversion.
Chamberlain, playing his final game for the Knights, then showed his running skills by retrieving a pass that went behind him before weaving his way through a bemused Heriot’s defence for an unconverted try in the corner to put Knights 19-0 ahead.
Heriot’s then brought on several strong players from the bench and immediately the fresh legs produced results. From a penalty-created line-out Heriot’s set up a maul from which Iain Wilson detached himself to score an easy try converted by Bruce Houston.
Then from a scrum, Heriot’s Murdo McAndrew threw out a long pass to Cammy Hutchison who had the space to charge through midfield, setting up a try under the posts for replacement Zack Smith, the conversion points added by Charlie Savala.
Heriot’s then put everything into producing the third try only for their efforts to be thwarted by a Knights side that threw everything into preventing their opponents from doing so – and in the end the Knights’ defensive effort proved to be the winning factor.
Heriot’s have their own chance to finish the season on a high when they take on Boroughmuir Bears in their final match of the campaign next weekend.
Southern Knights: C Grieve; P Anderson, B Wara, R Chalmers, A Cross; N Chamberlain, B Afshar; G Shiells, F Renwick©, M Woodward, R Brown, D Redpath, A Ferrie, W Nelson, S Derrick. Subs: J Bett, I Brace, C Bowker, T Brown, C Renwick, M Redpath, J Henry, B Pickles.
Heriot’s: B Houston; J Couper, N Godsmark, C Hutchison, S Pecqueur; C Savala, M McAndrew; C Keen, C Fenton, D Gamble, F Hastie, R Seydak, L Govenlock, I Wilson, R Leishman©. Subs: M Liness, J Scott, E McLaren, J Campbell, C Anderson, Z Smith, R Jones, J Blain.
Referee: Michael Todd.
Southern Knights: Tries: Ferrie, Cross, Chamberlain; Cons: Chamberlain 2.
Heriot’s: Tries: Wilson, Smith; Cons: Houston, Savala.
Scoring sequence (Southern Knights first): 5-0; 7-0 (h-t) 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 19-5; 19-7; 19-12; 19-14.
Man-of-the-Match: The Knights’ Sam Derrick has made rapid strides since graduating from Melrose Wasps at under-18 level and against Heriot’s the youngster showed he has enormous potential to go much further.
Talking point: After a difficult season that was beset by a number of factors, not least a much too big injury list, Southern Knights came good on the final match of the Super6 Sprint by unbottling their frustration to produce a committed and winning performance. This was what the competition and Southern Knights needed; otherwise the Greenyards men were in in danger of becoming the whipping boys of Super6 and in turn diluting the value of the format.