Southern Knights 20
ALAN LORIMER @ The Greenyards
WATSONIANS made it two from two in the FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series after achieving a bonus point victory over Southern Knights at The Greenyards in a match, which with skill, defence and commitment on display, did much to promote this tier of rugby.
The visitors, however, could have lost the match after giving away an interception try in the final quarter that gave Knights the lead, but the way in which they fought back to repair the damage and to finally deny the home side a losing bonus point was impressive, and pleasing for head coach, Fergus Pringle.
“We’re happy enough to come down here and get a bonus point win,” he said.” They played well and created opportunities. And they showed tremendous character to come back and win after conceding the interception try”
As for Southern Knights, this was a marked improvement on their showing against Heriot’s in the opening round and indeed with cooler heads they could have won this match. Their coach, Bruce Ruthven, however, pointed to too many mistakes and certainly too many if games are to be won.
“At times we’re our own worst enemy,” he suggested. “We didn’t exit very well, we gave the ball away cheaply and when we did get into the right areas of the pitch we just couldn’t execute well. Probably it was a lack of patience but individual errors cost us and at this level you cannot afford that. Two steps forward, two steps back. That’s where we are now.”
After an opening five minute phase of each side testing the other’s mauling skills it was the Knights who made the first breakthrough with a penalty goal from stand-off Nathan Chamberlain.
Watsonians wasted little time in applying pressure at the other end and after repeated assaults on the line the visitors worked a neat back-line move that put Ryan Daly, coming across from the left wing, over for a try, with former Knights’ fly half Jason Baggott, who knows every blade of plastic on the pitch, adding the extras.
If the Myreside men had looked the part in scoring their first points, then Southern Knights were quick to show their attacking flair. But it was a show without results. Three times the Knights came desperately close to scoring in the left hand corner, the final coup de grace thwarted by accurate defence from Watsonians.
Just as it looked as though the Knights were turning the screw, Watsonians showed what they could do on the break-out. Centre Angus Guthrie did the initial damage with a slicing break before off-loading to Daly, The wing looked to have the pace to make it to the line only to be hunted down by Paddy Anderson but at the breakdown Knights were penalised, triggering a kick to the corner.
The subsequent driven line-out slewed to open territory leaving an inviting gap on the blind side, intelligently exploited by Murray Scottt for an all too simple try. This time Baggott failed with the conversion attempt.
All the same the 12-3 advantage for Watsonians looked more than useful until, that is, Knights surged back. Chamberlain appeared to have scored from a tap penalty only to be pulled back by the referee. Two minutes from half time, however, the stand-off was handed justice, again from a tap penalty and converting his own try to reduce the lead to just two points.
Knights had a further chance on the stroke of half-time when they ran turnover ball giving Iain Sim another chance to stretch his legs. This time the Knights’ wing, after beating two defenders, opted to transfer the ball to the supporting Dalton Redpath but sadly for the home side the inside pass failed to land in the hands of the galloping second-row.
Watsonians brought Charlie Shiel on at the start of the second half and the Edinburgh pro made an immediate impact with a sniping run from a set scrum to put his side into an attacking position. But although Watsonians threatened in the aftermath they had to be content with a Baggott penalty as their reward.
Another to make an emphatic impact was replacement Fraser Renwick the former Hawick hooker bursting clear from a maul to make huge yardage for his side. Watsonians tried to respond but in doing so presented Billy Wara with an interception try from a Baggott pass.
Chamberlain converted to recapture the lead for the hosts, but Knights’ advantage was wiped out following a show of pace by Lomond Macpherson on the Watsonians right wing and then good phase play which ended with Cal Davies forcing his way over from close range.
This time Baggott converted to open up a five points lead, reduced to two after Chamberlain kicked a penalty. But then in a final push Watsonians killed off the game. ‘Kill’ was the operative word as Wara, with a high and no arms tackle, virtually wiped Macpherson out of The Greenyards as the wing sped to the line. The result was a penalty try and a yellow card for Wara to put a bit of a dark mark on what was otherwise an exciting and entertaining match.
Southern Knights: K Clark; P Anderson, B Wara, C Grieve, I Sim; N Chamberlain, M Redpath; G Shiells, R Anderson, I Brace, D Redpath, D Suddon, R Knott, W Nelson, H Borthwick. Subs: F Renwick, C Bowker, B Riddell, R Brown, A Ferrie, P Slater, B Afshar, R Chalmers.
Watsonians: D Coetzer; L Macpherson, L Berg, A Guthrie, R Daley; J Baggott, M Scott; S Gunn, C Davies, G Scougall, L Ball, K van Niekerk, S Cecil, C Wilson, I Moody. Subs: M Pritchard, C Imrie, D Gamble, K Watt, K Main, H Fisher, C Shiel, R Frostwick.
Referee: Ian Kenny.
Southern Knights: Tries: Chamberlain, Wara; Cons: Chamberlain 2; Pens: Chamberlain 2.
Watsonians: Tries: Daly, Scott, Davies, Penalty Try; Cons: Baggott 2; Pen: Baggott.
Scoring Sequence (Southern Knights first): 3-0; 3-5; 3-7; 3-12; 8-12; 10-12 (h-t) 10-15; 15-15; 17-15; 17-20; 17-22; 20-22; 20-29.
Yellow cards –
Southern Knights: Wara (78mins)
Man-of-the-Match: Watsonians hooker Cal Davies, aside from scoring a vital try was at the heart of the Watsonians forward effort. Moreover, his leadership skills were evident throughout and undoubtedly helped in securing a second win for the Myreside men.
Talking point: Super6 may take some time to attract adherents but this match at The Greenyards will certainly have won over some sceptics. More converted are needed, however, if Super6 is to attract the crowds it perhaps deserves. As for the respective teams, Watsonians looked solid if not hugely flamboyant and will be difficult to breakdown, while Southern Knights, still in a rebuilding phase and with a new coach, will need further time to settle in – except in a Sprint it’s always difficult to make up for a slow start.