WATSONIANS secured third spot in the FOSROC Super Series Sprint competition with a comfortable win in a contest that was at times feisty and certainly didn’t have the feel of a match that had little at stake. Stevie Scott’s side showed a clinical edge that was lacking in the Wolves team for much of the game, and chalked up six tries to end the campaign on a positive note.
Wolves provided solid opposition and, but for a spirited defensive effort could have been on the wrong end of a hiding, however they lacked the cutting edge that had been a feature of their performances earlier in the competition.
Scott was pleased with the way his men had bounced back from a disappointing loss in Ayr the previous week, saying: “It was important for us to finish the season well. I think we did, so I’m really pleased with that.”
And, while the competition has not gone according to plan, there were reasons to be positive. “We have had a lot of injuries, but that has allowed players to get game time,” Scott added. “That’s what the competition is about. The biggest thing was that the mindset was about winning it. This team wants to be at the top end so it’s important.”
For Wolves coach Eddie Pollock, it was a second successive below-par showing and that is a cause for some concern.
“We have dropped off in the last two games and that’s been disappointing from our point of view. There’s lots of reasons for it”, he admitted. “Watsonians deserved to win. They were a lot better than we were, they looked hungrier. That’s the disappointing thing for me.”
However, he, too, sees reasons for optimism, adding: “At the moment we’re on a bit of a roller coaster. When we are good. We’re very good, but the problem is that there are too many downs. Overall, though, there has been an improvement, and some of the rugby we’ve played has been very good.”
Watsonians made a lively start, testing the Wolves defence with a string of attacks. That early pressure paid off on five minutes. A penalty was despatched into touch and the ball was worked one way then the other, with Scott King taking a pass ten metres from the line and stretching over. Jason Baggott added the extras then doubled his side’s tally in ten minutes. Callum Norrie was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock on and Watsonians took full advantage of the extra man when King was the provider for his stand-off, who ran an excellent angle to carve through the Wolves defence.
Stung by that fierce onslaught, Wolves responded with a spell in the ascendancy and opened their account with 16 minutes played when Marcus Holden stroked over a close-rage penalty.
The Watsonians riposte was a third touchdown just after Wolves had been restored to full strength. This time a patient build-up ended with the ball worked out to Hector Patterson, and the youngster brushed aside the last tackler to dot down in the corner.
Wolves finished the first half strongly and by the interval were back in the game. A penalty booted into touch provided the platform for a catch-and-drive that ended with Reyner Kennedy claiming the five pointer, with Holden’s conversion from out wide leaving the half-time gap at seven points.
The first score of the second period went the way of Watsonians. A surge by Lewis Berg cut through the Wolves defence and he offloaded inside to Matt Reid, who in turn sent Patterson scampering over for a second time, with Baggott converting.
Even at this early stage, it looked to be all over when Baggott again darted through a gap in the Wolves defence for a self-converted score that stretched the Watsonians advantage to 21 points. That view was confirmed before the hour was up when Seb Cecil crashed over for try number six and Baggott again landed the conversion.
It was now one-way traffic and Wolves deserve credit for a gutsy defensive effort in the face of that onslaught. There was a touch of defiance about the final score of the match after Wolves had enjoyed their first spell of second-half pressure. A line-out drive saw Jake Spurway emerge from a heap of bodies to claim the five pointer. That sparked a final flourish by Wolves that ultimately proved fruitless.
Watsonians: M Reid; R McKnight (B Riley 72), L Berg, S King (F Thomson 69), A Guthrie; J Baggott, H Patterson (M Scott 69); H Courtney (C Davidson 72), C Davies© (F Duraj 72), M Wilson (G Scougall 54), L Ball, K Watt (J Berrisford 72), S Cecil, C Wilson (J Morris 54), N Irvine-Hess.
Stirling Wolves: G Bryce; L Jarvie, M Heron, C Jardine, G Smith (I Sim 54); M Holden, K McGhie (F Burgess 54), G Breese (A Wood 65), R Kennedy© (A Falconer 78), C Norrie (M Tamosaitis 56), H Ferguson, J Pow (T Smith 60), R Knott (J Spurway 60), C Gordon (S MacDonald 60), B Grant.
Referee: Jonny Perriam
Watsonians: Tries: King, Baggott 2, Patterson 2, Cecil; Cons: Baggott 4.
Stirling Wolves: Tries: Kennedy, Spurway; Con: Holden; Pen: Holden.
Scoring sequence (Watsonians first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 12-3; 17-3; 17-8; 17-10 (h-t) 22-10; 24-10; 29-10; 31-10; 36-10; 38-10; 38-15.
Yellow cards –
Stirling Wolves: Baggott
Man-of-the-Match: Despite ending the afternoon on the sidelines after a yellow card for illegally foiling a Wolves attack, Jason Baggott was behind much that was good in an excellent Watsonians performance.
Talking point: With the Sprint Series having produced so many tight encounters, the Super Series Championship, which starts in July, promises to be another open and keenly contested chase for the silverware.