Stirling County 14
LEWIS STUART @ Myreside
DEFENCES were right on top in the only Tennent’s Premiership clash of Super 6 clubs this weekend, with Watsonians producing a purple patch just before half-time that proved enough to claim the points on their home patch.
“It was a game we could, maybe even should, have lost,” admitted Steve Lawrie, the home coach afterwards. “To be fair to them they probably left three tries out there but that is what we need to do.
“Our second half performance was much more positive in terms of our organisation and defence. There were a lot of errors but it was a good contest.”
For Eddie Pollock, his opposite number, the important thing was that his team kept up the effort even when things were not going their way. “It was a good game,” he said. “I was impressed by them – look at their defence. We played really well, especially in the first half.”
Watsonians had shown their resilience in the opening period when they managed to survive a Stirling barrage of attacks and somehow head into the changing room with a narrow lead.
The visitors showed their intent in the opening seconds when Ewan Macgarvie, the centre, powered down the side and, but for a foot brushing the touch line, would have put wing Matt Lamb in for a try seconds into the game.
The home reprieve did not last long when Stirling ripped the ball from the line-out and Murphy Walker, the prop, drove over – but the Edinburgh side found a way to ride the initial pressure and emerge with a try of their own.
It came despite having to reshape their back division as both centres, DJ Innes and Rory Hutton, picked up injuries, but with full back Josh Rowland always elusive and replacements Rory Steele and Ewan Fox showing a willingness to run from anywhere, they had the firepower wide out for Rowland to collect their opening try.
Stirling had the strength up front, however, and could have had three more tries before the break: lock James Pow got over the line but could not ground the ball and Ratu Tagive, the wing, lost the ball reaching out to ground it on one occasion and failed to gather the low-bouncing ball on another.
The other Tennent’s Premiership match reports this week –
The home side could not, however, stop the front row with Reyner Kennedy, the hooker, blasting through a ruck and sprinting in from the 22.
That woke Watsonians, who snatched the lead late in the half. The first had an element of luck when Stirling half charged down a kick only for it to bounce well for Steele, who launched the attack from deep that ended with Scott McLeod taking a long pass from fly-half Lee Millar to cross.
It was quick thinking, rather than good fortune, that brought them their third try, with a break out from their own line and a tap penalty sending Ali Harris racing past the scattered visitors for the go-ahead try, and Millar extending the lead with his only first-half conversion.
Now it was Watsonians’ turn to enjoy a period of dominance, quickly extending their lead with a Millar penalty and threatening more scores before Stirling got their act together again.
All that did was usher in another half hour of stalemate as both sides did their best to open that game up but could not find holes in the opposition defence, or manage to play without mistakes for long enough to put real pressure on the opposition line.
Stirling tried to play their trump cards, bringing on professionals Brandon Thompson and Adam Nicol, but the Watsonians defence was up to the task and they survived without either side managing another score.
Watsonians: J Rowland; A Guthrie, R Hutton, DJ Innes, S McLeod; L Millar, A Harris; N Borel, R Graham, J Stanley, J Hodgson, C Borthwick, G Nelson, C Boyle, J Miller. Subs used: F Renwick, F Hobbis, F Simpson, E Fox, R Steele.
Stirling County: J Hope; M Lamb, E Magarvie, G Hughes, R Tagive; A Goudie, JP Jericevich; R Chies, R Kennedy, M Walker, J Pow, S Yarrow, G Arnott, S McDonald, H Burr. Subs used: B Gilchrist, A Nicol, C Keys, A McLuan, B Thompson.
Referee: S Copeman
Watsonians: Tries: Rowland, McLeod, Harris. Con: Millar. Pen: Millar.
Stirling County: Tries: Walker, Kennedy. Cons: Hope 2.
Scoring sequence (Watsonians first): 0-5, 0-7, 5-7, 5-12, 5-14, 10-14, 15-14, 17-14 half-time, 20-14.
Man of the Match: Watsonians full-back Josh Rowland scored one try and sparked the brilliant, length of the field move that put his side ahead.
Talking point: Both sides left tries on the field and know they are going to have to sharpen their finishing if they are to challenge the Premiership’s best.