Southern Knights 14
COLIN RENTON @ Myreside
WATSONIANS returned to the summit of the FOSROC Super6 table, having surrendered pole position to Ayrshire Bulls for a couple of hours. The Myreside men were tested in spells by a Knights side that paid the price for a haphazard start, before eventually harvesting all five league points and ensuring they will have home advantage in the knockout phase.
The result was important for Watsonians coach Fergus Pringle, who said: “That’s us guaranteed a home semi. To be honest it looks as if it will be either Heriot’s or Boroughmuir. When we set out we wanted to get a home semi.”
He paid tribute to the opposition, adding: “To be honest, it’s the kind of game we expected from the Knights. I think you’ve got give credit to them, they’ve had a lot of pressure with player availability and things not going their way. They stuck in and they really didn’t go away.”
However, he is looking for more from his own players and offered a mixed assessment, stating: “I didn’t think we managed the game well in the middle third of the pitch and we lost a few kicking battles. But then I thought we were clinical when we did get into the 22 – we got points and we scored a couple of good tries.”
His Knights counterpart Bruce Ruthven was left ruing the same shortcomings that have been an issue throughout the campaign. “It’s a flattering score line in the end. When we got to 19-14, for the next 15 minutes we couldn’t get out of our own half. If we had managed to get field position and keep the ball, the game could have gone the other way,” he said.
“When it got to 14-0 early doors we gave ourselves a mountain to climb, just as we did last week. We only had a squad of 22 today. Half the team are under 21 years old, so in terms of the guys getting game time and stepping up that’s valuable for their development.”
The hosts took the lead with remarkable ease inside two minutes. Lee Millar banged a penalty into touch, the ensuing rumble was stopped and the recycled ball moved along the line. The next attack was foiled and Jamie Berrisford picked up at the breakdown then strolled over untouched to set the scoreboard ticking and leave Millar with a simple conversion.
Knights responded with a spell of pressure but an overthrown lineout and another that was lost meant that their efforts came to nothing. And they were punished when Dom Coetzer gathered a loose ball inside his 22 and sprinted away. He feinted to move inside then turned on the gas and raced down the left wing to touch down for a superb solo score. Millar again added the extras.
Knights may have been caught napping for each of the opening tries, but Kyle McGhie’s quick thinking hauled them back into the match. The scrum-half took a quick penalty and fed Sam Derrick, who crashed over, with Kieran Clark’s conversion halving the deficit.
The Watsonians response was immediate. Millar booted another penalty into touch and a line-out drive ended with Karl Main bagging try number three for the hosts.
Millar’s departure with an injury after half an hour had limited impact, with Jason Baggott slipping effortlessly into the breach and continuing the forward momentum.
In contrast to their vulnerability in defence, Knights continued to look threatening in attack, and they ended the half in the ascendancy but failed to add further points. A clever cross-kick by Douglas Crawford found Aiden Cross, who volleyed the ball and raced after it. Watsonians scrum-half Roan Frostwick impeded the Knights winger, conceding a penalty and earning a yellow card. That sparked a series of attacks, but the effort foundered on a knock-on in the final play of the half.
The visitors restarted well, and earned their reward just before Frostwick returned to the fray. Crawford took recycled ball and fed McGhie, who was clobbered just short by Kwagga van Niekerk, but Rudi Brown was on hand to finish the job. Clark’s conversion cut the gap to five points.
Watsonians responded with a fresh spell of pressure and almost bagged the bonus points core when van Niekerk found a gap. However, the ball squirted from his grasp and Knights managed to clear the danger.
Watsonians were not to be denied the bonus-point score and it came shortly after the hour mark when Angus Guthrie pinballed his way past three tacklers for an unconverted try.
Knights battled to take something from the game, but were unable to add to their tally and it was the hosts who did so when a series of assaults on the Borderers’ line ended with Rory Brand picking out Ross McKnight standing in space and he touched down. Baggott added the extras then did so again after Lomond MacPherson intercepted on halfway and galloped clear for try number six with the final action of the game.
Watsonians: D Coetzer; L MacPherson, A Guthrie, C Eastgate, R Daley (R McKnight 56); L Millar© (J Baggott 31), R Frostwick (R Brand 64); C Lamberton (H Courtney 45), C Davies (C Wilson 35), A Williams (G Scougall 45), K van Niekerk, J Berrisford, K Main (S Cecil 50), C Boyle, N Irvine-Hess (K Watt 68).
Southern Knights: K Clark; A Cross, K Winters (M Bertram 40), M Richardson (H Rutherford 40), B Pickles; D Crawford, K McGhie; G Shiells© (M Mbaud 34), H Morris (F Renwick 61), I Brace (R Deans 40), J Campbell, A Ferrie, S Derrick, W Nelson (R Anderson 61), R Brown (J Miller 78). Subs: F Renwick, M Mbaud, R Deans, J Miller, E Demirel, R Anderson, H Rutherford, D Colvine.
Referee: Jonny Perriam
Watsonians: Tries: Berrisford, Coetzer, Main, Guthrie, McKnight, MacPherson; Cons: Millar 2, Baggott 2.
Southern Knights: Tries: Derrick, Brown; Cons:Clark 2
Scoring sequence: 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 14-5; 14-7; 19-7 (h-t) 19-12; 19-14; 24-14; 29-14; 31-14; 36-14; 38-14.
Yellow card –
Man-of-the-match: It turned into a battle between the two Watsonians locks who contributed well in all aspects of the game. Jamie Berrisford just got the nod by virtue of the try that opened the scoring for his side
Talking point: The Knights results may suggest otherwise, but there is plenty of skill and pace in their ranks. On the evidence of this showing, the problem appears to be a lack of cohesion in defence.