Super6: Watsonians secure home semi with win over Southern Knights

Slow start leaves visitors with a mountain to climb

Watsonians defeated Southern Knights. Image: Scottish Rugby
Watsonians defeated Southern Knights. Image: Scottish Rugby

Watsonians 38

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.”


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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.

 

Teams –

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

 

Scorers –

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 –

Watsonians:  Frostwick.

 

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.


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About Colin Renton 228 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!

19 Comments

  1. The Super 6 debate continues with no improvement in Southern Knights results. It’s only a matter of time before the Super 6 scheme folds which will be sad in one respect as it is the players leaving Super 6 and returning to Premiership clubs that have enhanced the standard in the club division. It was meant to be a player improvement funnel upwards but the benefits are in fact in the other direction as after a couple of seasons in Super6 an improved player can return to his club and make a contribution. Not all bad news then!
    Just look at how Selkirk have improved, Hawick up there, it’s just Jedforest that we need to get some Super6 refugees to join. With Gala and Kelso topping their division we can hope they get into Prem 1 next season to enhance club rugby in Scotland where currently only Border teams offer any worthwhile home and travelling support. Also let’s get two clubs up into Prem 1 with no relegation this season so that the Premiership can then provide a decent length of season. As for the Melrose club side they too can hopefully gain promotion to Prem 1.
    Maybe that Irish capped scrum half that we seem to need can play for the Southern Knights and help them along the way.

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    • What a weird comment.

      I wonder how strong Scottish rugby would be if the rest of the country produced as many top class players per head of population as the Borders.

  2. Broon62 Why should Melrose have to suffer because the Southern Knights can’t recruit properly? They have never had a full squad since January. If the recruitment team did their job they wouldn’t be in this mess instead of being lazy and just pillaging the Melrose Club Side when they need someone. At the end of the day the success of Melrose is much more important than the Southern Knights.

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  3. I may be way off the mark here but think I remember Knights players playing for Melrose at Melrose 7’s?

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    • Ian Clark .
      That’s correct .
      They must have thought nobody would notice .

      This Super 6 malarkey is a total farce and is spoiling Scottish rugby

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  4. Broon62, I was speaking to some Melrose players a few weeks ago on their thoughts about playing for the Knights. As being local boys, they have always had ambitions to play for the Melrose 1XV and not a new franchise without any history behind it. They feel the most important thing for the club is to get the club side back to the premiership, as realistically at the end of the day, does it really matter where the SK team finish in the Super6 league? Melrose being back in the Premiership benefits the wider club a whole lot more.

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    • It’s good to hear the report on your discussions with the Melrose lads and full credit to them for wanting to play for their local club as it should be and probably is elsewhere.

      Let’s kick S6 into touch and boost the number of teams in the Premiership as Stewart suggests with the S6 funding being put into the club game. Then we can have a proper competitive league throughout the season. Players can then play for proper rugby clubs and those that have ambitions for a Pro career can have a platform to display their talents and be selected by Edinburgh or Glasgow (or even third regional team) and fans can watch real teams playing real meaningful matches.

      If this means dispensing with the service of Mr Dodson and his acolytes then so much the better.

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  5. “Represent”….? Shurely shome mishtake, Mouse! Peppered with players who have not emerged from the domestic development system, with 3 of the 6 franchises located in the Capital city (and none in its larger more populous western neighbour), whatever else S6 may be, it can hardly be regarded as properly “representative”. “Haud ma sides”……..!

    Whereas The South, Scottish Borders Reivers and The Borders have each been historically-connected, vertically-integrated representative District (or Regional) elite rugby teams, like its peers, from the outset the SK’s have been an artificially-contrived outfit, the SK’s based at the (now artificially-surfaced!) Greenyards reflecting, if not representing, one deluded, overpaid Mancunian’s destructive pipe-dream.

    It is highly unfortunate that this unloved, imposed S6 experiment (together with issues in recent years surrounding their “new look under new management” Sevens tournament) appear to have impacted so heavily upon the membership, management, players/coaches, finances and general well-being of the formerly pre-eminent Melrose RFC.

    Maybe Edinburgh Accies, Hawick, Glasgow Hawks, Gala, Marr, Currie, etc. have got away fortuitously, unscathed, having somehow dodged the superficially inviting S6 bullets that have seemingly hurt or diminished the traditionally strong core clubs at the Greenyards, Mansfield Park, Bridgehaugh, Myreside, Goldenacre & Meggetland?

    Discuss…..!

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    • I agree with most of your post Ron but suspect Mouse was suggesting (he can correct me if I am wrong) that the SK’s are different from the likes of Heriot’s, Boroughmuir and Watsonians in that they are not supposed to be a part of the Melrose club whereas the others clearly are part of their respective clubs and therefore the SK’s “represent” the South as a whole.

      All part of the problem of having three franchises in the capital which means none of them can represent (however you interpret that) the city and therefore are very much club sides.

      It’s one of many reasons why S6 is like the man who championed it totally unfit for purpose.

      When the whole artificial competition collapses or most probably sooner when the numbers watching it plummet even further it will be as you say clubs like Edinburgh Accies, Glasgow Hawks, Gala, Marr, Currie who will be best prepared to survive. Along with Mr Dodson obviously.

      • AlanJ. Correct .Melrose rfc should have nothing to do with Southern Knights other than use same pitch
        Southern Knights are meant to represent the Borders area not Melrose

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  6. Couldnt disagree with your point more. Melrose club players are showing truly loyalty and commitment to their club instead of this corporate driven sham of a franchise. Interesting you choose to support them over Melrose who most true fans do.

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  7. As a Knights supporter , I was up watching the Watsonians / Knights game this afternoon and it is a poor reflection on the Melrose / Southern Knights franchise that they cannot field a full 23 man squad and can’t even get their own Melrose club 1st XV players to step up at times of need. Melrose club 1st XV won by about 60 points against Aberdeen this afternoon and within that team there are a number of experienced players very capable of playing Knights level rugby so why won’t they step up ? One of the players on the bench for the Knights was actually picked for Melrose Storm so why would Melrose not choose to give the Knights 1 or 2 of their first team players to fill the squad ?
    It is an exceptionally poor outcome for the club as a whole that some players within their setup won’t step up at a time of need. Also players unwilling to step up creates a development bottleneck as it means that younger players not yet good enough for the Knights don’t then get the opportunity to step up to the club teams because these players appear to refuse to step out of their comfort zone and up to the Knights.
    I think we have come to expect this type of behaviour from some of the other Borders clubs but it is disappointing to see that players within the same club are also guilty of not supporting the Knights !
    There is something rotten festering within the Melrose / Knights system and it will be very interesting to see what happens when the franchise comes up for renewal. I will be considering my next membership very carefully if this is the level of commitment being tolerated.
    The Knights franchise is already on a shoogly peg given the lack of support it has from the other Borders clubs and it must be extremely concerning when this now appears to extend to players within the parent club.

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    • Southern Knights are meant to represent the whole of the Borders .
      Other than play on the same pitch
      have no connection to Melrose rfc who are amateurs and play in a lower league .

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      • Yes indeed Mouse. Unfortunately to those with an anti-Melrose agenda the Knights are either part of the Melrose club or not according to their current rant against the Greenyards club.

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      • “Represent”….? Shurely shome mishtake, Mouse! Peppered with players who have not emerged from the domestic development system, with 3 of the 6 franchises located in the Capital city (and none in its larger more populous western neighbour), whatever else S6 may be, it can hardly be regarded as properly “representative”. “Haud ma sides”……..!

        Whereas The South, Scottish Borders Reivers and The Borders have each been historically-connected, vertically-integrated representative District (or Regional) elite rugby teams, like its peers, from the outset the SK’s have been an artificially-contrived outfit, the SK’s based at the (now artificially-surfaced!) Greenyards reflecting, if not representing, one deluded, overpaid Mancunian’s destructive pipe-dream.

        It is highly unfortunate that this unloved, imposed S6 experiment (together with issues in recent years surrounding their “new look under new management” Sevens tournament) appear to have impacted so heavily upon the membership, management, players/coaches, finances and general well-being of the formerly pre-eminent Melrose RFC.

        Maybe Edinburgh Accies, Hawick, Glasgow Hawks, Gala, Marr, Currie, etc. have got away fortuitously, unscathed, having somehow dodged the superficially inviting S6 bullets that have seemingly hurt or diminished the traditionally strong core clubs at the Greenyards, Mansfield Park, Bridgehaugh, Myreside, Goldenacre & Meggetland?

        Discuss…..!

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      • As Mouse says Melrose rfc are amateur . A national league 1 club…..They’re not a Knights feeder club .so picking players from this team to step up as replacements would never happen ….. southern Knights have many problems .one of them is this Franchise have never reached out to the whole of the Borders . Only concentrating on Melrose Melrose Melrose that’s how local rugby supporters can’t relate to them

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