Ayrshire Bulls 26
MATT VALLANCE @ Millbrae
THE regular supporters of these two teams, who passed on this game in favour of alternative attractions at Hampden and Murrayfield, were the losers – because this was a wonderful advertisement for Super6.
“This was a step-up in intensity and quality from any other games in this series,” agreed delighted Watsonians head coach Fergus Pringle afterwards. “I was delighted with the character the guys showed during the second half, before we came back at the end to see out the game.”
Opposite number Pete Horne, although obviously disappointed at the result, said: “We had a bad ten minute spell in the first half which cost us, but, I was absolutely delighted at the way we came back in the second half. The guys showed a great attitude, but, full credit to Watsonians for the way they played. They were clinical when it mattered and they’ve been the highest standard of opponent we’ve faced.:
Bulls struck first, full-back Liam McNamara squeezing in at the corner to end a 13 phase spell of Bulls pressure in the fourth minute, but their lead lasted a mere three minutes before Rory Brand made a great break and quick ruck ball enabled Harry Paterson to sprint through a gaping hole for a try, converted by Lee Millar – who then extended the visitors’ lead with a 16th minute penalty.
Bulls retook the lead in the 24th minute with a great team try. Christian Townsend changed the point of the attack and skipper Blair Macpherson made a trademark carry, before scrum-half Cameron Jones picked up at the base of the ruck and darted through a gap for a try which Townsend converted.
Watsonians, however, had the final word in the first half, with a couple of cracking tries. Not for the first time in the game, Edinburgh professional Matt Currie stormed down the right before skipper Lee Millar‘s well-timed pass opened the door for Paterson’s second score.
Then on 36 minutes, Currie blasted off his wing on a great line for a terrific solo try, which Millar converted to pull the visitors ten points clear.
Watsonians hadn’t finished there. A terrific driving maul had Bulls on the back foot, then Millar was twice involved in a backs’ move which ended with Brand scampering in for the bonus-point try, which the scored converted to make the score 12-29 at the break.
Bulls knew they had to score next and from the restart they set up camp in Watsonians’ territory. Tight-head Mike Scott made a great solo break, but his offload went forward and the chance was lost. The hosts kept up the pressure, however, and in the 50th minute their hard work bore fruit when skipper Macpherson’s off-load sent flanker Lewis McNamara over for a try which Townsend converted.
It took Watsonians 17 second half minutes to get close to the Bulls’ 22 and when they got there they coughed-up possession, the Bulls’ backs attacked and Bobby Beattie sprinted clear to finish-off a 70 metre attack with their bonus-point try which Townsend converted to make it a three-point game.
Bulls never let-up, but Watsonians’ defence was immense, before, with just over three minutes left, man-of-the-match Iain Moody capped a barn-storming display with a great solo break-out into the Bulls’ 22. Watsonians remained camped there almost until the end and the game ended in a narrow but thoroughly-deserved win for the Edinburgh side.
A cracking game, enjoyed by both sets of supporters. A terrific win for the visitors, who must now be big favourites to win this Super6 Sprint Series.
Ayrshire Bulls: Liam McNamara, J Shedden, B Beattie, T Jordan, E Caven, C Townsend, C Jones; A Nimmo, A McGuire, Michael Scott, E Bloodworth, R Jackson, Lewis McNamara, T Brown, B Macpherson. Substitutes: R Tanner, A Rogers, C Henderson, A Tair, E Hamilton-Bulger, J Lenac, J Knight, M Minogue.
Watsonians: H Paterson, M Currie, L Berg, J Reynolds, A Guthrie, L Millar, R Brand; S Grahamslaw, C Davies, A Williams, L Ball, K Van Niekirk, S Cecil, K Main, I Moody. Substitutes: E Young, A McWilliam, R Bratton, K Watt, G Nelson, Murray Scott, J Baggott, L Macpherson.
Referee: Johnny Perriam
Ayrshire Bulls: Tries: Liam McNamara, C Jones, Lewis McNamara, Beattie; Cons: Townsend 3.
Watsonians: Tries: Paterson 2, Currie, Brand; Cons: Millar 3; Pen: Millar.
Scoring sequence (Ayrshire Bulls first): 5-0; 5-5; 5-7; 5-10; 10-10; 12-10; 12-15; 12-20; 12-22; 12-27; 12-29 (h-t) 17-29; 19-29; 24-29; 26-29.
Man-of-the-Match: A consistent supplier of quality line-out ball and a presence around the park in both attack and defence, Watsonians’ No 8 Iain Moody was outstanding in a great team display.
Talking point: A sunny day, a firm pitch, two teams committed to attack – this could be the future of Scottish Rugby. Such a pity conflicting attractions reduced the audience somewhat.