Hamish Watson on his potential match fitness for Scotland after playing hour for Edinburgh in defeat to Scarlets
An hour in Llanelli, following on from a full 80 minutes against the Sharks three weeks ago, was evidence that one of Scotland’s Lions is back fit and raring to go after three months out with concussion before that. It may have been a disappointing display overall, with the Scarlets back row coming out on top as a unit in this heavy 42-14 defeat for Edinburgh, but Watson’s international pedigree is well known.
“I feel good, I feel fit, tonight I was not at my best which is frustrating,” he said after the game. “I feel physically good and fit but none of us were at our best today. All of us could have been a lot better out there tonight, which is probably part of the reason we lost, none of us out there were taking the game by the scruff of the neck.
“We are back in with Scotland on Monday night, those boys have obviously done well in the last two weeks. I was there for the England game and the buzz after that was really good. Training with the boys has been great, we are back on Monday and then we will see what happens the week after that.”
Edinburgh coach Mike Blair feels Watson is ready if needed by Scotland, and explained why he was only given an hour of match practice in Llanelli.
“Hamish played 80 minutes three weeks ago in his first game back for three months,” he said. “His fitness is generally excellent. We felt we wanted to give Connor Boyle an opportunity as well, an up-and-coming seven, so a chance to show what he can do.”
The result meant Edinburgh slipped to 11th in the table, four points away from the top eight places. It was also a sixth league defeat in seven games, despite a few close calls. With three of the Irish provinces to play, as well as more Welsh opposition in the resurgent Ospreys, Edinburgh need to reverse that bad run before it is too late.
It would have been nice to add to the feelgood factor with a win in Wales, following on from watching Scotland in record-breaking form and Glasgow earning a crucial win over Ulster. However, Edinburgh were never really in contention as the Scarlets put all the uncertainty and scandal in Welsh rugby behind them to notch a comfortable bonus point win.
“We thought we had a really good training week and came into the game full of confidence, but it was one of those days – we conceded early, tried to recover from it and then conceded again,” said Watson.
“We just did not function at all, physically we were well off it. Fair play to the Scarlets, they had a really good game today, but we could not go through the phases at the breakdown and lost a lot of breakdown ball.
“We have got Leinster in two weeks at home, which is obviously going to be a really tough game. Even with all their internationals away, Leinster could probably field four really good teams, so we need to learn from this and get better. Against Leinster and with a few more tough games coming up then every game is a must win now.”
Scorers: Scarlets: Tries – Conbeer (2), Fifita, Evans, G Davies, James. Cons – Costelow (3), Jones (3).
Edinburgh: Tries – McCallum, Venter, Cons – Savala (2).
Scarlets: J McNicholl; S Evans, J Roberts, I Nicholas, R Conbeer (E James 52); S Costelow (D Jones 40), G Davies (D Blacker 71); K Mathias (S Thomas 60), S Evans (T Davies 60), S Wainwright (J Sebastian 60), M Jones, S Lousi, (C Tuipulotu 73), V Fifita, D Davis (B Williams 71), S Kalamafoni (Capt).
Edinburgh: W Goosen (J van der Walt 17); D Hoyland, M Bennett (C Dean 64), J Lang, J Blain; C Savala, C Shiel (B Vellacott 48); B Venter (J Jack 71), A McBurney (P Harrison 52), M McCallum (L Atalifo 71), G Young (M Sykes 45), J Hodgson, N Haining, H Watson (Capt, C Boyle 64), V Mata.
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy).
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