COLIN RENTON @ Myreside
TWO TEAMS intent on playing open rugby served up a classic cup tie which was settled by an injury time score for the hosts. And if any neutrals are at a loose end next Saturday, they should head for Meggetland where the same sides will meet again on league duty.
With both outfits having posted substantial wins the previous week, it was reasonable to have high expectations for this encounter, and the action in the first couple of minutes certainly suggested that’s what was on the cards.
Watsonians made the livelier start and had a steal at the first lineout. There was also a glimpse of Boroughmuir’s back-row revelation Rob Ure, who is a star in the making if he can continue to develop his direct and powerful running.
However, there were ten minutes on the clock before the scoreboard operator was called upon. The opening try of the afternoon showcased the talents of Rory Hutton, back in the side after missing last week’s victory over Hawick.
The stand-off slipped between two defenders then delivered two dummies that carried him clear and he dotted down near the post to leave Ali Harris a simple conversion.
The tally doubled three minutes later when a low clearance kick by Chris Laidlaw rattled off Michael Allen’s shins and the former Edinburgh pro scooped the ball neatly in one hand and raced clear, then shrugged off the final tackler to stretch over. Harris again added the extras then slotted a penalty to leave the hosts 17-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The visitors gained a foothold in the game and Laidlaw almost unlocked the home defence with a powerful break. Jamie Ure then had a go and in the wake of his charge up-field, Boroughmuir had their first concerted assault on the home line. And it paid off when the ball was swept along the line to Ciaran Whyte, and he flicked the ball deftly between his legs to Grant McConnell who touched down in the corner. Laidlaw banged over the touchline conversion.
Harris then missed with a penalty attempt before Boroughmuir ended the half with a flourish, albeit they failed to add to their points tally.
Within two minutes of the restart the visitors were right back in the game when Whyte was involved twice in a move that sliced open the home defence and concluded with Greg Cannie racing in for an unconverted try.
Watsonians responded with a rampaging run from Rory Drummond who powered clear and bounced off three attempted tackles before the ball went forward as he attempted to offload. Hutton then had a tilt and when he was thwarted the recycled ball found its way to Drummond who blasted his way over. Harris added the extras.
Boroughmuir’s chances then suffered another setback when Dale Robertson was red carded for punching. However, that appeared to galvanise the away side and they were offered a glimmer of hope when the numbers were evened up after Euan Dods was yellow carded for pulling down a maul.
The hosts repelled wave after wave of Boroughmuir attacks before the visitors moved the ball wide to Cannie, who did well in a tight space to force his way over at the corner.
And the fightback was complete when Whyte raced from deep and offloaded to Euan McKirdy, who completed the job. Laidlaw steered a nerveless touchline conversion between the sticks to tie the scores.
There was one final twist to an engrossing contest and it came in the fourth minute of injury time when the ball was swung along the line to James Miller and he forced his way in at the corner to book a semi-final berth and ensure Watsonians retain an interest in both league and cup competitions.
“We are in the next round although perhaps we didn’t really deserve to be,” said Watsonians coach Steve Lawrie, who admitted that his players had been disappointed with their performance. “But that’s cup rugby and we definitely leave this one feeling we can improve.”
His Boroughmuir counterpart Peter Wright was fuming at the denouement.
“That’s two years in a row we’ve been beaten with the last touch of the ball,” he reflected. “We came back well and got ourselves into the game. It was a good game of rugby. Two soft tries in the first half just killed us. From then on I thought we played pretty well.”
Watsonians: A Chalmers; M Bertram, M Allen, D Innes, R Steele; R Hutton, A Harris; N Fraser, D Miller, N Borel, E Dods, C Borthwick, R Drummond, G Nelson, M Fedo. Subs: M Christie, F Hobbis, K Watt, J Miller, W Thomson, L MacPherson.
Boroughmuir: G McConnell; M Brown, R Kerr, G Cannie, J Edmunds; C Laidlaw©, J Adams; D Robertson, J Matthews, T Gracie, J Ure, F Field, A Mncube, R Ure, C Keddie. Subs: R Montgomery, D Marek, M Walker, A Nethery, E McKirdy, R Scott, C Whyte.
Watsonians: Tries: Hutton, Allen, Drummond, Miller; Cons; Harris 3; Pen; Harris
Boroughmuir: Tries; McConnell, Cannie 2, McKirdy; Con: Laidlaw 2
Scoring sequence: (Watsonians first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 17-0; 17-5; 17-7 (h-t) 17-12; 22-12; 24-12; 24-17; 24-22; 24-24; 29-24,
Red cards –
Yellow cards –
Referee: S Turnbull
Man-of-the-match: Once again, Rory Hutton exhibited his talents as a running stand off, and bagged the first of his team’s four tries.
Talking point: An entertaining encounter watched by a disappointingly small crowd. The demise of the grassroots game will become a self-fulfilling prophesy – perhaps suiting the agenda of those at Murrayfield – without more marketing support coming from Scottish Rugby.