Watsonians 25 - 18 Heriot’s: Back in top flight with a bang

Weiss Cullen of Watsonians sees his attempted break-out halted by Jack McClean.  Picture: Neil Hanna
Weiss Cullen of Watsonians sees his attempted break-out halted by Jack McClean. Picture: Neil Hanna
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Watsonians have been out of top-flight rugby for the past five years but they celebrated their return to the Premiership with a convincing win over last year’s champions and local city rivals. The home side scored three tries to two from the visitors, all of which came in an entertaining second half.

There wasn’t much to choose between the two sides but Watsonians made a yellow card count at the start of the second half with the opening try of this match against a short-handed Heriot’s. The other difference was at the set scrum where Watsonians finished up well on top, driving the Heriot’s eight backwards at a rate of knots and winning not only their put in but the opposition ball and a crucial penalty try that might have won them the game on another day.

The first 40 was something of a stalemate with twin defences getting the whip hand over two attacks that didn’t want for ambition but were perhaps a little ring rusty after the summer.

Two penalties apiece from the twin kickers, Ewan Scott for the home team, Alex Hagart for Heriot’s, were all anyone had to show for all their efforts in the opening half, that and two yellow cards. The first to Watsonians No.8 Rory Drummond who was just the last in a long line of miscreants in the shadow of his own posts, the second to Heriot’s flanker Dylan Mason who went high from a kick off and sat out the first ten minutes of the second half. It was to prove a costly mistake.

Watsonians held on to the ball through the phases, which had proved beyond them in the opening half, they progressed into the Heriot’s red zone where the visitors’ defensive line evaporated for flanker Dairmaid Dee to waltz his way through the 10/12 channel with scarcely a hand laid on him. The half was just three minutes old and a little later James King almost grabbed Watsonians’ second score in similar fashion.

Holding the whip hand in the scum meant that, when Watsonians won a five metres set piece just before the hour mark, they would got for the drive and the big shove earned earned a penalty try. That second try galvanised Heriot’s into action and they threw the ball about, aided by the slick service of replacement scrum-half Andrew Simmers and the sheer bulk of Fijian Joe Curuqara. Their adventure was eventually rewarded with a try for centre Liam Steele who got on the end of a flowing movement and took the scoring pass from flanker Jack McClean.

Hagart kicked the touchline conversion and Josh Laird scored a second try for Heriot’s in the corner but in between the away side’s two touchdowns Euan McKirdy popped up with Watsonians’ third try to make this one safe.

In a final act of generosity Watsonians had a penalty with the last kick of the game which would have denied Heriot’s the losing bonus point but for some reason they kicked the ball into the back of the stand instead of through the posts.

watsonians: Chalmers; Bertram, McLeod, King, Young; Scott, Cullen; Borel, Crombie, McQuillin, Poole, Borthwick, Dods, Dee, Drummond. Subs: Miller, Ruwers, Duckett, McKirdy, Innes.

heriot’s: Parker; Webster, Steele, Laird, McLean; Hagart, Wilson; McCallum, Liness, Cessford, Nimmo, Smith, Mason, McClean, Marshall. Subs: Sinclair, Bouab, Curuqara, Wilson, Kay.

referee: Graeme Ormiston (Gala Wanderers).