Ayrshire Bulls 14
COLIN RENTON @ Myreside
WATSONIANS produced some of their best rugby of the season to demolish a Bulls side that, based on recent results, has rightly been described as the form team of the FOSROC Super6 tournament. It was a game that proved the theory that on their day any one of the six sides is capable of beating the others.
For Watsonians coach Fergus Pringle, it was a display that augurs well for Friday’s third/fourth play-off against Stirling County at Myreside, and brings a few players into the selection debate.
“We have had a few tough results, so fair play to the boys they were really up for that game. It’s a tough game for Ayr – they know they’re in the final. We just wanted to turn up and put in a performance that shows everyone what we can do,” said Pringle, who pointed to his side’s first half dominance as the key to the result.
“The difference today was that we started well. We got a score, a couple of things went our way then we had their heads up. That gave the guys that little bit of confidence they needed. That was probably our best half of rugby this season.”
In the Bulls camp, assistant coach Pete Horne admitted that his players perhaps had an eye on the final against Southern Knights. The focus this week will be on ensuring the players are ready for that encounter.
“We’re disappointed. We just weren’t at the races. I think Watsonians were very good, they put us under a lot of pressure. We just had too many individual errors and we were a bit passive in defence. There’s probably a few reasons for it, but all in all it’s pretty disappointing, ” said the Glasgow Warriors utility back, before looking ahead to the title showdown. “It’s not ideal going into the final, but hopefully that will be the kick up the backside that we need to get us ready.”
It was clear from early in the proceedings that this was going to be the hosts’ day. After the usual aerial ping-pong, the game sprang to life when Watsonians No 8 Sam Daly gathered a clearance and raced through a gaping hole in the opposition defence to touch down between the sticks and leave Joe Reynolds a simple conversion.
Haphazard tackling by the visitors was also a feature of the second score with Reynolds making the initial break and offloading to Scott King, who brushed off two defenders and raced in, leaving the try’s creator the simple task of adding the extra two points.
Bulls were strangely lacklustre and had posed no threat to the home line by the time Watsonians bagged try number three when Ru Smith intercepted and out-sprinted Elias Cavan in a 50-metre foot race to give the hosts a lead that they deserved at that stage.
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And it got even worse for the visitors after half an hour when Matt Currie broke away and, when he eventually ran into traffic, kicked ahead for Harvey Elms, who profited from a kind bounce then showed his pace to sprint in.
Watsonians continued to build their score and another touchdown came after Elms slalomed through the Bulls defence to within striking distance of the whitewash, where Karl Main picked up and finished the move. Reynolds rediscovered his range to add the conversion.
Remarkably, it was the final minute of the half before Bulls threatened the home line. Two penalties booted into touch and the ensuing driven line-outs almost unlocked the Watsonians defence, then a tap-and-go following a third offence by the hosts allowed Ryan Sweeney to barge over. Matt Minogue’s successful conversion was the final action of a one-sided opening period.
Bulls made five changes at the interval, and the new blood appeared to have an immediate impact as the visitors began to spend more time in opposition territory. However, they failed to add to their tally until the 65th minute when Bobby Beattie and Minogue combined to carry play int the Watsonians 22, and the recycled ball was eventually moved out to Christian Townsend who stepped inside and dived over – Minogue adding the conversion.
Watsonians wasted little time in responding, with Currie racing between two defenders to touch down in the corner, and they completed the win in style when Ben Muncaster crashed over and Reynolds converted.
Watsonians: D Coetzer; H Elms (A Hoffie 70), M Currie (M Morrison 70), S King, R Smith; J Reynolds, R Cullen (R Frostwick 60); S Grahamslaw (H Courtney 60), C Davies (R Graham 60), A Williams© (N Borel 60), L Ball (K van Niekerk 50), M Badenhorst, B Muncaster, K Main, S Daly (C Wilson 65).
Ayrshire Bulls: E Cavan; A Tait, T Lanni (C Townsend 40), R Beattie, F Callaghan (G Lowe 39); M Minogue, J Lenac© (M Johnstone 65); G Thornton (C Miller 65), R Tanner (A McGuire 40), R Sayce (M Scott 40), E Bulger (J Drummond 40), T Everard, R Jackson, G Wilson, R Sweeney (B MacPherson 40).
Referee: K Allen
Watsonians: Tries: Daly, King, Smith, Elms, Main, Currie, Muncaster; Cons: Reynolds 4.
Ayrshire Bulls: Tries: Sweeney, Townsend; Con: Minogue 2.
Scoring sequence: (Watsonians first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 24-0; 29-0; 31-0; 31-5; 31-7 (h-t) 31-12; 31-14; 36-14; 41-14; 43-14.
Man-of-the-Match: The Watsonians backs had more freedom to run than they have typically enjoyed, and that allowed both of the wingers and the two centres a chance to shine. Harvey Elms looked sharp and hungry and on any other day would have earned the nod, but on this occasion he was pipped by Matt Currie.
Talking point: This was without question Bulls’ worst performance of the season. However, if they were going to have an off day, it was better now than next week. The task now for the coaches to ensure there is no hangover for the final.