Super6: strong bench helps power Watsonians to success over Boroughmuir Bears

Visitors return to the summit of the table with bonus point win

Watsonians got the better of Boroughmuir Bears at Meggetland. Image: Steve Langmead
Watsonians got the better of Boroughmuir Bears at Meggetland. Image: Steve Langmead

Boroughmuir Bears 10

Watsonians 27

GARY HEATLY @ Meggetland

WATSONIANS climbed back to the top of the table with a hard-fought victory over Boroughmuir Bears at Meggetland, the visitors coming from behind at half-time to then earn a four try bonus point at the death.

In the first half the Bears, third in the table, played with intent and accuracy and deservedly led 10-7 after 40 minutes.

This Watsonians squad always seem to have the ability to find another gear, though, and while they never hit top form here they did do enough to get in front after the interval – and they never look back.

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In the process of this victory Watsonians lifted the Allan McNish Trophy. The silverware is played for annually over two legs between the clubs with the Myreside men taking it 58-20 on aggregate this year.

Watsonians, who were already guaranteed a home play-off semi-final before this contest, are now on 41 points from a possible 45 going into their final regular season fixture with Heriot’s at Myreside next Friday.

“I thought we were our own worst enemies in the first half,” said head coach Fergus Pringle. “We had a few changes in the pack and with the pro guys only joining training later in the week it took us a bit of time to get to where we wanted to be in areas such as the line-out.

“We also gave a couple of soft penalties away in the first half and it allowed the Bears into our 22 on a number of occasions. At half-time we spoke about tidying up the breakdown area because that is where they targeted in the first half to disrupt our rhythm.

“In the second half we tried to use the wind to kick the ball into the bottom corner when it was on, while, in general, we started to play in the right areas of the pitch and got the Bears on the back foot.

“The boys then showed good composure [after a long lay-off for an injury] to switch on in the last minute to get an important bonus point try.”

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In the seventh minute, Watsonians took the lead when Edinburgh second-row Pierce Phillips intercepted a pass in midfield and showed decent pace for a big man to run in for a try from 45 metres. Stand-off Jason Baggott converted and it was 7-0.

The Bears had tried to play with enterprise before that score and they continued in the same vein afterwards with teenage winger Kerr Johnston looking dangerous whenever he got the ball.

In the 20th minute the hosts won a kickable penalty and stand-off Jack Bergin did his job to make it 7-3. The Bears really had the bit between their teeth and in defence they were not letting Watsonians make any yards.

In attack they were looking quite sharp too and in the 28th minute they got their first try of the game when a well-worked driving line-out eventually saw young hooker Jerry Blyth-Lafferty going over with Bergin then converting to put Bears ahead 10-7.

Before the interval, home centre Adam Scott nearly got away for the Bears, but he just could not gather the ball in space and ended up knocking on.

Watsonians then got Glasgow Warriors academy winger Ross McKnight into the game for the first time. He had a good run, but the Bears defence stood firm and things were just not quite clicking for the visitors at that point.

Bears skipper Craig Keddie was forced off at half-time as a precaution with a dead leg with Trystan Andrews replacing him at No 8 while Edinburgh’s Jamie Hodgson came on for Watsonians in the second-row as he steps up his return from injury.

Watsonians levelled things up in the 53rd minute with a penalty from Baggott.

The Bears then brought on 18-year-old Aberdonian Andrew McLean – who has been in great form for Glasgow Hawks in the Premiership this term and will now be at Meggetland until the end of this competition – at full-back.

Watsonians were beginning to turn the screw and they scored two tries to take a 22-10 lead after 71 minutes. Their forwards were starting to carry harder – aided by some good contributions from the bench – and full-back Dom Coetzer went over first followed by replacement winger Angus Guthrie. Baggott converted one and the only thing left was to see if the visitors could get their fourth try.

There was a lengthy stoppage after 79 minutes for a head injury to Watsonians replacement loose-head prop Cole Lamberton. Medics from both sides spent upwards of 10 minutes with him on the pitch before he was stretchered off to a round of applause. The good news was that he was standing and walking soon after the game and was able to be part of the post-match photos as his team posed with the Allan McNish Trophy.

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With the minute of play that was left after Lamberton departed, Watsonians scored an unconverted try through replacement tight-head Bobby Bratton to round things off.

Although on the losing end of the result, there was plenty of positives for the Bears to take from this performance, most notably the way their young players stood up to the test led by the excellent Blyth-Lafferty

“I think overall as a coaching team we are delighted with the way the boys played because going into it there was only going to be one winner, that is the reality,” their head coach Graham Shiel said.

“I am pretty frustrated not to get at least something out of the game if I’m honest because I felt we deserved more and I didn’t think Watsonians deserved a bonus point.

“The guys worked ever so hard, but the physicality in the second half wore us down and it is no secret that they had a Scotland internationalist [Hodgson] coming off the bench while we didn’t have the ability to do that.

“Against more experienced players and some professionals, I thought [Edinburgh academy player] Liam McConnell really stood out in the back-row while a host of our other young players and guys who are newer to this level like [tight-head prop] Marcus Goodwin also did well. Also, it looks like we haven’t suffered any more injuries which is important with the play-offs around the corner.”


Teams –

Boroughmuir Bears: T Brown; K Johnston, A Scott, S Robeson, J Jenkins; J Bergin, R Swan; C McFeat Smith, J Blyth-Lafferty, M Goodwin, E Ferrie, C Atkinson, L McConnell, S McGinley, C Keddie. Subs: I Carmichael, B Sweet, L Alessandri, J King, T Andrews, M Johnstone, A McLean, A Purewal.

Watsonians: D Coetzer; L MacPherson, L Berg, J Reynolds, R McKnight; J Baggott, R Frostwick; H Courtney, P Harrison, L Atalifo, J Berrisford, P Phillips, S Cecil, K Main, K van Niekerk. Subs: C Wilson, C Lamberton, B Bratton, J Hodgson, L Ball, K Watt, M Scott, A Guthrie.

Referee: Finlay Brown.


Scorers –

Boroughmuir Bears: Try: Blyth-Lafferty; Pen: Bergin; Con: Bergin.

Watsonians: Tries: Phillips, Coetzer, Guthrie, Bratton; Pen: Baggott; Cons: Baggott 2.

Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir Bears first): 0-5; 0-7; 3-7; 8-7; 10-7 (h-t) 10-10; 10-15; 10-17; 10-22; 10-27.


Man-of-the-Match: In the first half it looked like the award might be going to a Bears player, but the Watsonians pack played with more control in the second half and tightened up the set-piece to take control. As a result, their loose-head prop Harrison Courtney is the recipient of the award this week.

Talking point: It will be interesting to see just how far teenage Bears players like hooker Jerry Blyth-Lafferty, back-row Liam McConnell and winger Kerr Johnston can go in the future – watch this space …

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About Gary Heatly 463 Articles
Gary has loved rugby ever since he can remember and since 2004 he has covered the sport and others in a professional capacity for many publications and websites and runs his own company, GH Media.