Super6: Watsonians snatch win from Stirling County’s grasp with late surge

Hooker Cal Davies scores a hat-trick for Myreside men as they battle back from 17 points down with just 20 minutes left to win at a canter

Michael Badenhorst and Connor Boyle celebrate with try-scorer Kody McGovern. Image: Graham Gaw
Michael Badenhorst and Connor Boyle celebrate with try-scorer Kody McGovern. Image: Graham Gaw

Watsonians 34

Stirling County 22

DAVID BARNES @ Myreside

HOOKER Cal Davies scored a hat-trick for Watsonians as they came from 5-22 behind with a man in the bin on the hour mark to score 29 unanswered points, which secured their third straight win at the start of this inaugural Super6 season and confirmed their place as top dogs ahead of a trip to Millbrae to take on Ayrshire Bulls next Saturday.

“It is hard to know what to say after a game like that,” shrugged victorious head coach Fergus Pringle. “First of all, you’ve got to give Stirling credit. Brandon Thomson, moving forward to 10 from 15, really controlled the game and put us under pressure, and they attacked us both sides of the ruck which we didn’t handle very well in the first hour.

“We spoke in the week about putting in an 80-minute performance but in the first half we gave away some soft penalties and we just weren’t really on it. But it is kind of like a habit, we know we can stay in the game even if the scoreboard doesn’t look like it, and I think you could see that we flicked that switch in the last 20 when we just went up a gear, the passes started to stick and we looked a bit more like ourselves.”


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Stirling County head coach Ben Cairns knows a big week of analysis and training lies ahead after watching his team surrender a commanding lead for the second week on the bounce.

“We made too many errors and discipline cost us a bit,” he said. “I don’t think it is one thing, it probably stems from our intensity dropping a little bit and us reverting into protection mode from attack mode, then it snowballs from there.

“We’ll look at some of the decisions we made in that final period, some of the soft defence and some of the soft penalties, and it will probably be a combination of all of that. We need to address it quickly, because we are on a six-day turnaround before playing Heriot’s next Saturday.”

County’s pro contingent were heavily involved as they got off to a bright start. Adam Nicol’s powerful break established good field position and earned a penalty, Thomson sent it to the corner and Adam Ashe got the ball down after a powerful line-out drive. The visitors doubled their lead five minutes later when Thomson broke from midfield and Landon Hayes acted as link man to send Robbie Kent home.

Watsonians worked hard to get back into the game and had a 15-minute spell camped on the County line, which eventually paid off when – with visiting second-row James Pow in the sin-bin for collapsing a maul – Davies got the first of his three tries off the back of a driven line-out.

But that was as good as it got for the home team during the first half. They lost full-back Jamie Forbes to a yellow card for blocking Logan Trotter as the County winger chased his own kick, then just before the break Thomson slotted a penalty after the Watsonians front row stood up under serious pressure at a scrum in front of the posts.

Forbes had scarcely returned to the fray when Watsonians lost another player to the sin-bin after 15 minutes of the second half, with replacement flanker Michael Badenhorst being punished when referee Ruairidh Campbell lost patience with defenders continually failing to get behind the back foot of the ruck. Stirling went for the scrum and their domination in that area paid off with No 8 Ashe simply having to pick up from the base and flop over the line.


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Then came the Watsonians revival, initiated when Angus Guthrie hit an excellent line with pace and power to score, and Millar added the extras.

There was a lengthy hold up while Brian Leitch was treated on the field for a neck injury he sustained during the lead-up to that try, but Watsonians didn’t let that slow their newly found momentum, with some great kick-chasing forcing Stirling to concede a penalty near their own line. This was, inevitably, kicked to the corner and Davies was once again the man to get the ball down.

The really good news is that the hold-up was precautionary with Leitch back on his feet and feeling chirpy soon after being stretchered from the field.

Lee Millar missed the conversion, but that was soon forgotten when Watsonians surged right back up field from the restart, with Joe Reynolds wreaking havoc with an elusive run, before Kody McGovern – just a few seconds after replacing Lomond MacPherson on the right wing – stepped inside Trotter to score under the posts.

Millar nailed the conversion this time, which edged the home team ahead, and to rub salt into the wound, Stirling centre Landon Hayes was carded for a high, late and dangerous tackle during the lead-up to the score.

Millar then added a penalty after Ollie Bartlett was called for a high tackle, and the hosts finished with a flourish when hapless County fumbled the ball in midfield – not once but twice – and Davies took advantage to claim his hat-trick. Millar’s conversion was the last act of the match.

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Teams –

Watsonians: J Forbes; L MacPherson (K McGovern 66), L Berg, J Reynold, A Guthrie; L Millar, M Scott (R Frostwick 45); H Courtney, C Davies, N Borel (C Wilson 65), B Leitch (F Simpson 61), J Hodgson, M Kunavula (M Badenhorst 45), C Boyle, M Inness.

Stirling County: J Henderson; E MacGarvie, R Kent (M New 65), L Hayes, L Trotter; B Thomson, C Korteweg; C Brown, R Kennedy (A Thomson 65), A Nicol (M Walker 40), J Pow, O Bartlett, D Taylor-Menzies, C Gordon (R Bundy 65), A Ashe.

Referee: Ruairidh Campbell.

Scorers –

Watsonians: Tries: Davies 3, Guthrie, McGovern. Con: Millar 3. Pen: Millar.

Stirling County: Tries: Ashe 2, Kent. Con: Thomson 2. Pen: Thomson.

Scoring sequence (Watsonians first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12; 5-12; 5-15 (h-t) 5-20; 5-22; 10-22; 12-22. 17-22; 22-22; 24-22; 27-22; 32-22; 34-22.

Yellow cards –

Watsonians: Forbes, Badenhorst.

Stirling County: Pow, Hayes.

Man of the Match: Watsonians stand-off and captain Lee Millar kept the team ticking over, even when they were staring down the barrel halfway through the second half.

Talking point: Three more tries from line-out drives. It is effective but not really very exciting. Is it time for a law change?

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About David Barnes 3180 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

3 Comments

  1. Looked up match highlights maybe about 200 punters ( many will be on freebies ) over stand side .
    Scarce of any people on banking

    Looked much the same at Greenyards on Saturday .

  2. I don’t know how attendance figures are doing but it appears that it will take until next season before the new teams settle in to a consistently higher level of rugby & we find out whether they attract consistent paying punters numbers.
    Anyone got any info on attendance?

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