STIRLING WOLVES claimed a five point win in their final fixture of the FOSROC Super Series regular season. They took control in the second half and gradually clicked through the gears. The focus now turns to the knock-out phase of the competition.
Wolves coach Eddie Pollock is relishing that next challenge, a clash with Heriot’s on Friday, with a place in the final at stake.
“I thought the work rate on both sides of the ball was very good again. We weren’t as accurate as we wanted to be at times, but we had some good scores and when we put the subs on there was no change in the intensity”, he said, before looking ahead and adding, “We have very few injuries and we’re in a very good place going into the semi final on Friday. We’re very much looking forward to that.”
With nothing at stake but pride, Bears produced some nice rugby at times, but failed to finish off the chances that came their way. It was a familiar position for coach Graham Shiel, who, said: “Frustrating again – we weren’t accurate in a lot of stuff. When we got into the right parts of the pitch, we didn’t capitalise, so it was a tough one. We were in the game at half time, but second half we didn’t get going.”
With a semi-final place assured before kick off, the Wolves players were free to focus on staking a claim in the side for the showdown with Heriot’s and fine-tuning the set-piece. Hence, they passed up an early penalty in front of the posts and opted for the scrum. That created the base for a string of attacks. Bears defended solidly, but the score seemed inevitable, and it came in 12 minutes when James Pow crashed over from close range.
Bears, however, had no plans to play a supporting role, and they responded with a spell of pressure that yielded an equaliser. A penalty was booted into touch and Jack Fisher’s take at the line-out was followed by a powerful surge that ended with Kieran Westlake touching down.
Wolves continued to enjoy the bulk of the pressure. The Bears defence was stretched on several occasions, and it took an excellent effort by Corey Tait to hold up Ruaridh Knott over the line. Almost immediately, Ryan Southern took matters in hand for Wolves, gathering on the edge of the home 22 and slicing through then changing his angle to bag a fine solo five-pointer, which Marcus Holden converted to complete the first-half scoring.
The gap grew within a couple of minutes of the restart when another line-out drive ended with Gregor Hiddleston applying the final touch.
Bears responded with a spell in the ascendancy but failed to add points. And they paid the price for that when Wolves claimed the bonus point try on their next attack when Connor Gordon pounced on a loose ball inside the home 22 and cantered over to leave Holden a simple conversion.
Mass substitutions on both sides meant the game petered out in an error-strewn final quarter, with the only additional score coming for Wolves when Kyle McGhie darted in and Holden added the extras.
There were chances at both ends in the closing minutes, with Wolves coming close to extending the lead. However, there was no further change to the scoreboard, and attention now turns to business end of the competition.
Boroughmuir Bears: Try: Westlake
Stirling Wolves: Tries: Pow, Southern, Hiddleston; Con: Holden 2.
Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir Bears first): 0-5; 5-5; 5-10; 5-12 (h-t) 5-17; 5-22; 5-24; 5-29; 5-31.
Man-of-the-Match: There were several contenders in the Wolves side, but Tom Smith earned the nod for his high work-rate at the set-piece and in open play.
Talking point: The main objective for Wolves was to secure a morale boosting win ahead of the play-offs without sustaining injuries. In that respect it was mission accomplished and no doubt their wily coach Eddie Pollock will have a plan to stake a claim for a berth in the final.