Super6: Watsonians bandwagon rolls on with comfortable derby win over Boroughmuir Bears

Fergus Pringle's man make it three from three and claim a bonus-point for good measure

Stevie Longwell celebrates his try for Watsonians. Image: © Craig Watson -
Stevie Longwell celebrates his try for Watsonians. Image: © Craig Watson -

Boroughmuir Bears 13

Watsonians 36

DAVID BARNES @ Meggetland

ANOTHER week, another win for Watsonians. They didn’t get it all their own way, but were never really under pressure, and remain the team to beat in this competition with a record of three victories from three matches played so far in the 2021 Super6 campaign.

“We knew it was going to be tough because we’ve been quite impressed with Boroughmuir when we’ve watched them play,” said head coach Fergus Pringle. “They are well organised defensively and they have threats in attack so we’re pleased to come through that.”

“We knew how we wanted to play, where we wanted to take them on, and I thought the guys executed the plan well in the first half. At the start of the second half, we made some silly mistakes and compounded errors to let them back into it, but when we got field position and control back we moved clear with a couple of tries.”

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Tom Pittman squandered an early chance to put the hosts ahead when he miscued a second minute not-rolling-away penalty from less than 20-yards out and just to the rights of the posts, and it went from bad to worse for the Bears stand-off a minute later when his clearance kick was charged down by Luis Ball, with the Watsonians flanker scooping up possession himself and thundering home for the opening try.

Pittman made partial amends when he knocked over a penalty from almost exactly the same spot as his earlier miss, but Watsonians were soon back on the front-foot, with No8 Sam Daly taking a quick-tap and barging in for try number two after several minutes of pressure on the Bears line.

Ball claimed his second and his team’s third try as Watsonians continued to squeeze their hosts, but when the Bears did eventually make it back into opposition territory they took full advantage, with Kaleem Baretto throwing a big dummy which prised open a gap at the side of a ruck, and Tom Brown on hand to finish off.

Marc Morrison had converted all three of Watsonians’ tries and he finished the half with a penalty which made it 10-24, but it wasn’t all good news for the visitors because they lost skipper Jamie Forbes with a leg injury just before the break, which will be a concern for Pringle after Lee Millar was ruled out for the rest of the season earlier this week.

“It’s an impact injury on his knee and we’ll just have to assess it and see where we are,” said Pringle.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Marc Morrison [who has taken over from Millar at stand-off and was named man-of-the-match], he’s got a real point of difference in how he plays,” he added. “He’s one of a few guys got a chance tonight – with Murray Scott at scrum-half and Luis Ball in the back-row – and they all stepped up. It’s an attritional league so it is just about keeping bodies fresh.”

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Pittman narrowed the gap with his second penalty of the night after Conor Boyle was called for hands in the ruck in the 16th minute of the second half, and Bears were perhaps unlucky when Jordan Edmunds got clear but was called back for a crossing earlier in the move.

It got fairly tetchy. Watsonians tight-head Stevie Longwell took a tumble after a fairly innocuous looking shove, Ross Dunbar and Karl Main were both yellow-carded for a bout of handbags, and the hosts were temporarily reduced to 13 men when Euan Ferrie slapped the ball out of scrum-half Roan Frostwick‘s hands at the back of a ruck on the home team’s line.

In amongst all that, Longwell – havingrecovered from his earlier amateur-dramatics – and Ross Graham both crashed over as Watsonians stretched away.

“The effort was there, our set-piece was really strong – I’m particularly pleased with the scrum when you consider their resources in that area – but unforced errors cost us in the first half,” said Bears head coach Graham Shiel. “We got back into the game in the second half, but we perhaps pushed too hard and made some more unforced errors,  and they were able to bring some pretty meaty reinforcements off the bench.”

“Potentially, if hadn’t had that score chalked off, it might have been different. That was marginal at best. But that’s the way it goes.”

Shiel added that he has concerns about fielding a three-quarters line against Southern Knights next weekend, having lost centre Michael Gray with a dislocated shoulder during the first half of this match, on top Greg Cannie being out with an elbow issue and Ronan Kerr out with a hamstring injury.

Teams –

Boroughmuir Bears: T Brown; G Faulds, M Gray (M Cimprich 35), R McCallum, J Edmunds; T Pittman, K Barreto (M Johnstone 66); G Cave (R Dunbar 53), C McKenzie (C McMillan 60), D Winning (A McWilliam 60), J Fisher (E Stewart 51), E Ferrie, C Keddie, R Tai (S McGinley 55), T Andrews (M Mncube 60, G Cave 75-77 ).

Watsonians: J Forbes (L MacPherson 40); H Elms, L Berg, D Coetzer, J Venter (S King 55); M Morrison, M Scott (R Frostwick 41); M Argiro (S Grahamslaw 45), C Davies (R Graham 55), A Williams (S Longwell 55), K van Niekerk (K Main 65), M Badenhorst, L Ball, C Boyle, S Daly (H Fisher 69).

Scorers –

Boroughmuir Bears: Tries: Brown; Con: Pittman; Pen: Pittman 2.

Watsonians: Tries: Ball 2, Daly, Longwell, Graham; Cons: Morrison 4; Pen: Morrison.

Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir Bears first): 0-5; 0-7; 3-7; 3-12; 3-14; 3-19; 3-21; 8-21; 10-21; 10-24 (h-t) 13-24; 13-29; 13-31; 13-36.


Yellow cards –

Boroughmuir Bears: Dunbar (63mins), Ferrie (72mins)

Watsonians: Main (63mins)


Man-of-the-Match: Losing captain and master tactician Lee Millar for the rest of the season was a major blow to Watsonians, but the assured performance of understudy Marc Morrison – a 22-year-old Scottish-qualified Souther African – will have provided the Myreside faithful with a fair degree comfort.

Talking Point: Both coaches spoke afterwards about the challenges they face keeping enough players fit and fresh for their team to perform at or near their best. The combination of a fairly relentless schedule and individuals coping with a big increase of physicality after a year and a half without competitive rugby means that there is going to be a fair amount of player churn. The introduction of 32 man squads makes sense as a means of trying to ensure that players are not left inactive, but it’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out as the season progresses.

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About David Barnes 3911 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.