The size of the winning margin was unexpected in the light of Academy having run Watson’s very close in a recent Conference match. But last night the home side’s physicality, their efficiency in the maul and their ability to convert opportunities into points gave Academy little chance to repeat their Conference performance.
Yet the visitors, always willing to run the ball, were in the match at half-time when they trailed by just one converted try with the scoreline at 15-8, but injuries and a yellow card in the second half killed off hopes of a fightback.
“Up until the last quarter of the game it was very tight. The final scoreline perhaps flattered us,” conceded Ally Donaldson, the Watson’s coach. “But it’s great to be in a final at Murrayfield again. This is a brilliant group of boys. That was a solid performance tonight and we’ll look forward to Murrayfield.”
For Academy their Achilles’ heel was their inability to deal with Watson’s driving maul which was exacerbated by a propensity to give away penalties.
“We didn’t cope physically,” admitted Javier Palacios, the Edinburgh Academy coach. “We tried to stand off the maul but the referee interpreted what we were doing in a way we didn’t expect, and of course we must accept the decisions.”
The Watson’s mauling game produced two first-half tries for flanker Tom Holmes, adding to an early score by the home side’s pacy winger Ryan Daley. But a try by full-back Harvey Cameron-Barr and a penalty goal by stand-off Daniel Troup suggested that Academy were back in the game.
Academy’s hopes, however, were dashed in the second half as Watson’s took control of the game, with a penalty by Euan Maguire and then tries by Holmes, completing his hat-trick, second row Max Raitt, No 8 Euan Henderson and replacement Jack Neill. Maguire added three conversions.