Super6: Watsonians recapture top spot with bonus-point win over Southern Knights

Fergus Pringle praised his team for the character shown in tough encuounter at Myreside

Watsonians 32

Southern Knights 21

COLIN RENTON @ Myreside

WATSONIANS claimed pole position in Super6 when they overturned an eight-point deficit at half-time to see off the erstwhile leaders in a match that was played at a ferocious intensity. It was an impressive response by the home side to a lacklustre effort in losing to Heriot’s last time out. 

Watsonians had taken the honours in each of the two previous meetings of the sides, albeit with winning margins of one point and two points. And for much of this encounter, it looked set to be equally tight. Ultimately, however, they raised their game and had the better of the second half as they claimed all five league points.

“We asked for a reaction after last week”, said Watsonians coach Fergus Pringle. “The thing that stung us last week was that we didn’t feel we had done ourselves justice. It was important for us to get a reaction from the boys this week.”

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Pringle gave credit to Knights for their contribution, adding: “That was a tough game. It was a very physical, tough game with both teams desperate to win. It’s small margins, but we’re chuffed with the result.”

There were rumblings in the away camp about some of the refereeing decisions, with coach Rob Chrystie saying: “We need to look at ourselves first but there were some big moments in that game that created big swings.”

Nevertheless, he remains upbeat, adding:  “In relation to the effort and the desire, the players deserve a lot of credit. It was effectively a four-day turnaround – that’s a big ask. It’s character building.”

However, he is resolutely upbeat about the task in hand, saying: “Nothing is won today and we know we can be better, so it’s all good. We knew that the competition would get better week on week. From week one to where we are now, the level has gone up, which is brilliant.”

The home side made the livelier start although they spurned a kickable penalty after five minutes, preferring to go for touch, and the chance was lost. After a spell of aerial ping-pong, Knights sparked the game into life when Jason Baggott intercepted just outside his own 22 and sprinted away, only to be collared 15 metres shy of the line by his opposite number Marc Morrison. Patrick Anderson was following up, but he was hauled down just short.

That heralded a spell of pressure from the visitors that yielded a penalty in 17 minutes. Baggott was just off target with his effort on goal, and the game remained scoreless until the 21st minute when Baggott picked out Patrick Anderson with a perfectly weighted kick that floated over the heads of two defenders, allowing the winger to dot down in the corner for an unconverted try.

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The hosts cut the deficit to two points when Morrison steered a penalty between the sticks after 25 minutes, but Baggott cancelled out that effort after a high tackle. However, the home side seized the lead six minutes before the break when they turned to forward power for a series of pick-and-drives that edged them ever closer to the line, where Karl Main gathered and dived over, leaving Morrison a conversion that edged his side ahead.

By the break, Knights had regained the initiative. Baggott clipped over a drop goal for a single-point advantage, and he completed the first-half scoring when he added the extras after Knights had carved open the home defence with a slick handling move that ended with Joe Jenkins darting over.

Watsonians restarted with greater intent and they used their forward power to battle back into the match. A penalty to touch created the platform for a catch and drive that ended with Cal Davies forcing his way over.

Baggott extend the Knights’ lead with another penalty, but the momentum had swung in favour of Watsonians and they squeezed into the lead with another line-out drive finished by Steven Longwell and converted by Morrison. And the stand-off extended the gap with a penalty which – given an earlier warning from the referee – meant that Shaun Gunn spent 10 minutes on the sidelines.

Watsonians set about achieving a four-try bonus and achieved it just as the game entered injury time. It came courtesy of Sam Daly, who caught out the Knights with a quickly taken tap and plunged over. Morrison again converted and, although Knights launched a desperate finale as they sought to take something from the game, the Watsonians defence held firm.

 

Teams –

Watsonians: J Forbes (captain); H Elms, S King, D Coetzer (J Reynolds 40), L MacPherson; M Morrison, R Cullen (M Scott 75); H Courtney (M Argiro 75), C Davies, S Longwell, L Ball (K Watt 80), M Badenhorst, K Main, H Fisher (C Wilson 75), S Daly.

Southern Knights: J Jenkins; P Anderson, N Godsmark, C Scott (J Head 78), I Sim; J Baggott (A Mitchell 65), M McAndrew (C Jones 72); G Shiells (captain) (S Gunn 46), F Renwick (R Anderson 46), E McLaren, A Runciman, D Suddon, H Borthwick, A Ferrie (D Redpath 46), I Moody.

Referee: D Sutherland.

Scorers –

Watsonians: Tries: Main, Davies, Longwell, Daly. Cons:  Morrison 3. Pens: Morrison 2.

Southern Knights: Tries: Anderson, Jenkins. Con: Baggott. Pens: Baggott 2. Drop Goal: Baggott.

Scoring sequence: (Watsonians first): 0-5; 3-5; 3-8; 10-8; 10-11; 10-16; 10-18 (h-t) 15-18; 15-21; 20-21; 22-21; 25-21; 30-21; 32-21.

Yellow card –

Southern Knights: Gunn (60mins)

Man of the Match: An impressive effort by the home pack in the second half swung the game in their favour and the stand-out performer was second-row Michael Badenhorst, whose all-round contribution saw him pip Sam Daly.

Talking Point: The result means that it is tight at the top of the table, setting up an intriguing second half of the competition.


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About Colin Renton 288 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!