Late flurry in first half helps Watsonians to perfect start

Ali Harris touched down as Watsonians stepped up a gear. Picture: SNS/SRU.
Ali Harris touched down as Watsonians stepped up a gear. Picture: SNS/SRU.
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Watsonians rode their luck against Stirling County to go in at half-time with an unlikely lead that they then stubbornly held on to over the full 80 to record a first win in the first game of the new season.

Three to two was the final try count but on another day, as both coaches conceded, the result could easily have been reversed and there would have been no complaints from either of the Super Six franchises.

Watsonians coach Steve Lawrie said: “There were a lot of errors but it was a good contest. At half-time I said we could have been 15 points down, but we’re not, we’re three points up. To be fair to Stirling they left three tries out there, and we’ve gone on to improve in the second half and win a game of rugby we probably shouldn’t have.”

Stirling coach Eddie Pollock said: “I was pleased by the progress our players have made and the way we played. We threw everything at them, especially in the first half.”

Stirling, who won the Charity Shield last week, had early success when young tighthead prop Murphy Walker pounced during an untidy five-metre lineout to claim a try with less than two minutes on the clock. Full-back Johnny Hope converted.

Watsonians responded with a slick piece of inter-passing that put full-back Josh Rowland over the line, but it was a rare attack when the pattern of the match was Stirling swarming all over their opponents.

The Stirling pack steered a rolling maul into the home 22 and only some desperate tackling prevented more tries. 
No-one could stop hooker Reyner Kennedy when he picked up behind a ruck and strolled to touch down beside the posts. Hope converted to make it 14-5.

With half-time approaching, Watsonians sparked into life to assemble a sustained attack that created the space for left winger Scott McLeod to cross. Watsonians had found another gear and scrum-half Ali Harris, pictured, used a quick tap-penalty to power down the right for the try. Millar’s conversion kick was true to make it 17-14 in Watsonians’ favour, an advantage that had looked so unlikely before the late try double.

Millar added a penalty soon after the restart and, unlikely as it might seem, that was to prove the last time the scoreboard had to change. Both packs exhausted themselves in a war of attrition and heavy duty collisions played out mostly in midfield and it was Watsonians who had the guile and stamina to stay in front.