Super6: Watsonians deny Stirling County at the death

Watsonians Stirling County
Watsonians players celebrate after beating Stirling County 10-7 at Myreside. Image: Craig Watson.

Watsonians 10

Stirling County 7


The FOSROC Super6 served up another nerve-jangling affair featuring two sides playing ambitious rugby and who could each claim that they deserved to win. In the end, Watsonians secured that outcome and made it two wins from two thanks to a late score.  

It was a hard-fought and intensely physical affair and already there is evidence that squad depth will be crucial. That was acknowledged by Watsonians coach Fergus Pringle in his post-match comments. 

Of the performance in general, Pringle said, “We just didn’t take our chances and we just kept making mistakes. To be fair, Stirling put us under pressure to make those mistakes. 

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“The message for us is that we know we didn’t play well and we made a lot of mistakes, but to grind out that win shows a lot of character,” he added. “To find a way to win the game when things aren’t going your way is a positive. In the same breath, we know we have a lot of hard work to do.” 

Looking ahead to what is needed to maintain the winning start, Pringle said, “We have a point to prove to put in a clinical performance and take our chances. And if we get on the front foot, we need to stay on the front foot.”

And he acknowledged the physicality of the competition, stating, “It’s going to be an attritional league. It’s going to come down to the team that can keep squad intact and have strength in depth.”  

His Stirling counterpart Ben Cairns cut a frustrated figure, but he knows that his side is close to posting a win.  “There’s not a lot between the six sides, which is great,” the County coach said. “In terms of the product we are putting out there, it’s great that every game is that tight.

“We talk about developing players, developing referees and coaches, so from a competition point of view that’s great, but I would rather not be going through that every week. The big positive is that we are shooting ourselves in the foot and nearly winning those games. We just need to improve discipline and accuracy. They are fairly easy fixes.”

Cairns’ optimism is well founded based on the effort of his men in this clash. The visitors made the livelier start, but two attacks and an offence at the first scrum yielded penalties that allowed Watsonians to clear the danger. The hosts failed to profit from the opportunities that those penalties created. They came close to breaking through when livewire scrum-half Reiss Cullen scampered through, but he was hauled down five metres short.

Despite Watsonians enjoying the territorial advantage, the County defence was largely untroubled and another opportunity to build pressure was lost when Reyner Kennedy stole turnover ball on the edge of the away side’s 22.       

The first quarter ticked to a close with neither side having come close to scoring, and the Edinburgh outfit suffered a blow when skipper Lee Millar went off with an arm injury.

The breakthrough came in 24 minutes and the first points went County’s way. A penalty was banged into touch inside the home 22 and James Pow gathered at the ensuing lineout then sparked a drive that was carried on by Kennedy, who plunged over in the corner. Andrew Goudie hammered over the touchline conversion. That proved to be the only scoring of an intense first half. 

The home side resumed with intent and sought to move the ball quicker than they had managed in the opening 40 minutes. A breakout from their own 22 carried play into opposition territory and a couple of phases later an offside penalty allowed Marc Morrison to claw back three points, while Alasdair Mackie was yellow-carded for the offence.  

Both sides introduced fresh legs as the game entered the final 10 minutes with all to play for. Once again, the home side seized control and battered the County defence. The vital score came with three minutes left on the clock. Watsonians had been edging ever closer to the whitewash and a series of pick-and-go attempts finally yielded points when the impressive Sam Daly crashed over and Morrison capped a tidy debut when he added the extra two points.    

Watsonians: J Forbes; L Macpherson (J Venter 56), L Berg, D Coetzer, H Elms; L Millar (captain) (M Morrison 19), R Cullen (R Frostwick 40); H Courtney (M Argio 52), R Graham (C Davies 52), S Longwell (A Williams 52), K Watt (L Ball 67) M Badenhorst, K Main (H Fisher 67), C Boyle, S Daly.

Stirling County: C Robertson; S Hamilton (T Roche 68), A Russell, G Hughes, L Trotter; A Goudie, K Kay; G Breese (M Walker 29), R Kennedy (captain) (A Fraser 46), JP Phelan (B Dineen 52), J Pow, B Bowes, G Arnott, C Gordon, A Mackie (J van Vuuren 60).

Referee: K Allen. 

Scorers: Watsonians: Try: Daly.  Con: Morrison. Pen: Morrison.

Stirling County: Try: Kennedy. Con: Goudie.

Scoring sequence (Watsonians first): 0-5, 0-7 (half-time), 3-7, 8-7, 10-7.

Yellow card: Stirling County: Mackie. 

Man of the match: Watsonians’ Sam Daly was impressive at key moments, most notably in bagging the vital score.

Talking point: Short turnaround times between matches look likely to take their toll and squad depth will become increasingly important as the competition progresses.  

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About Colin Renton 294 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!