THIS was, by far, league leaders’ Peebles most impressive display of the season, and it comes as their promotion and championship chase reaches a crucial stage writes Andrew Innes.
Grangemouth were not as bad as the scoreline suggests and, particularly in the first-half, had Peebles on the back-foot.
However, once the Peebles pack had gained the upper-hand, the result wasn’t in any doubt, and the second half was virtually one-way traffic.
Peebles’ New Zealander, David Dillon, was again at the heart of everything and the flanker claimed two tries in the first half to add to his already impressive total since arriving in December.
Grangemouth coach Brian Renwick accepted his yellow card had not helped his side: "I can’t blame anybody but myself for throwing the punch," he said of the 65th minute incident.
Dillon’s two tries were virtually identical. Scott Nichol found touch with a penalty, and from the resultant lineout Peebles drove Dillon over for the scores.
Chris Foster, deputising at scrum-half for the injured Drew Moore, grabbed Peebles’ third, before Danny Kaschula crossed for the bonus point. Further tries from Mark Stumbles and a fair sprint from prop Willie Aitken sealed a comfortable victory for the hosts.
Grangemouth had taken an early lead through a Kevin Gartside penalty, and drop-goal from Jamie Davidson, but that was as good as it got for the visitors.
Scorers: Peebles: Tries: Dillon (2), Kaschula, Stumbles, Foster, Aitken. Cons: Nichol (2). Pen: Nichol. Grangemouth: Pen: Gartside (4), Drop-goal: Davidson.
Peebles: K Nisbet; C Farmer, C Twigley, M Stumbles, B Hirstwood; S Nichol, C Foster; W Aitken, C Murray, J Currie, D Harvey, D Kaschula, N MacIver, D Dillon, J White. Subs: M Harvey for Kaschula, 66 mins. N Clark for Currie, A Eddington for Foster, N Cruickshanks for McIver, 75.
Grangemouth: M Parsons; T Meadows, G Crossan, R Innes, K Gartside; J Davidson, D Wilson; S Wood, A Verity, R Balmer, G Nichol, B Renwick, S Mackenzie, D Edge, K Leary. Subs: C Lundie for Nichol, 50 mins. G Bell for Wood, 55. S Campbell for Meadows, 59. P Mooney for Wilson, 66. K Gartside off, 70.
Referee: J. Hogg (Hawick)
JED-FOREST scored six tries in a rampant display against a Selkirk side depleted by injury to sustain their challenge for promotion, writes Hannah Innes. Kiwi centre Mark Fitzgerald put in an excellent performance, setting up two tries and scoring two as Jed gained an all-important bonus point.
Jed coach Donald Miller highlighted the forthcoming games against Peebles and West of Scotland, both at Riverside Park, as crucial to his team’s hopes for promotion.
Selkirk started the game minus regular full-back David Cassidy and No8 Scott Jeffrey, and then lost stand-off Guy Blair five minutes from the break.
Fitzgerald set up both Mark Lee and James Henderson early in the first half to put Jed in front with Kevin Amos adding a conversion.
A Blair penalty and drop goal from Matthew Vaughan kept Selkirk in touch at the interval, but the hosts gained the initiative shortly after.
Fitzgerald turned try scorer twice, with David Forster and Roy McFarlane adding counters, and Amos converted all four second-half tries, a penalty and a drop goal.
Scorers: Jed-Forest: Tries: Lee, Henderson, Fitzgerald (2), Forster, McFarlane. Cons: Amos (5). Pen: Amos. Drop-goal: Amos. Selkirk: Pen: Blair. Drop-goal: Vaughan.
Jed-Forest: K Amos; S Lightbody, M Fitzgerald, S Laidlaw, R McFarlane; C Laidlaw, R Goodfellow; B McDonnell, C Brown, J Henderson, N Cook, J Szkudro, M Lee, A Hotson, D Forster. Subs: G Hume for Fitgerald, 79mins. C Goodfellow for McFarlane, 64. A Campbell for McDonnell, 60, J Bradburn for Cook, 64.
Selkirk: S Murdoch; M Jaffray, M Vaughan, C Cochrane, B Armstrong ; G Blair, S Tomlinson; J Pito, E Robbie, M Murray, M Barnett, L McPherson, D Hoggan, A Scott, B Gentleman. Subs: C Allan for Armstrong, 69mins. J Ross for Blair, 35. S McColm for Robbie, 75. D Lawson for Scott, 71.
Referee: A. Hepburn (Lenzie).
THIS result was not good news for either side. Although winners, Watsonians failed to pick up a bonus point, unlike their two promotion rivals, writes Marion Trace.
For Kelso it was more serious. Not only did they acquire no points, unlike their relegation rivals, their most distinguished player, former international Adam Roxburgh, was sent off two minutes from time and will at least miss this Saturday’s home clash with equally imperilled East Kilbride. The dismissal puzzled observers at the time.
Home No10 Colin Gregor was in the process of scoring a hack-on try. Roxburgh, whose dropping of the ball gave the opportunity, was 30 metres in arrears. It subsequently became known that referee Duncan had punished a punch landed by Roxburgh on Watsonians’ back row replacement Ian Sinclair.
In the circumstances the try was not a penalty award, and the angled conversion attempt was missed. This was the main incident of a poor game on a cold day.
Kelso’s tigerish back row made the Edinburgh side work hard for their win, but there was little chance of the Black & Whites taking the points themselves.
Scorers: Watsonians: Tries: Murphy, Gregor. Pens: Gregor (3). Kelso: Pens: Aitchison (2).
Watsonians: J Murphy; G Hailey, C Culpin, R McKeon, A Turnbull; C Gregor, C Cusiter; N Page, G Dixon, S Lithgow, B King, D Burns, J Osbourne, G Brown, N Penny. Subs: J Easton for Gregor, 78mins. C Quiqley for Page, 78. I Sinclair for Penny, 59.
Kelso: G Aitchison; S Ross, G Murray, G Laing, G Barr; S Manners, G Cowie; R Hogarth, G Koertz, S Lowrie, S Rowley, K Hendry, R Ford, M Prentice, A Roxburgh. Subs: I Wallace for Murray 74mins. D Baird for Cowie, D Paxton for Lowrie, 53.
Referee: G Duncan (Ellon).
West of Scotland 18
WHOEVER had wind advantage in the first half at Millbrae was going to have to make the most of it and in establishing a 15-5 half-time lead, West probably thought they had.
With the lion’s share of territory and possession, Kenny Barclay chipped away to four penalties with late call-up No10 Simon Goldie potting a drop goal but the danger sign was there the first time Ayr really put pace on the ball, Richard Good scoring the first half’s only try off Kyle Brunning’s break.
Nothing West tried could unpick the Ayr defence though Ian Steel probed and prompted from midfield and Simon Sheridan then Fergus Thomson came close. That lack pf penetration proved their downfall. Andy Reid closed the gap with a penalty then, as the Ayr forwards for once drove in unison, Tony Wright claimed the touchdown. Graeme Ferguson landed the levelling kick but by now Ayr had put their crisis behind them.
Eddie Manawaiti, Damien Kelly and Gordon Sykes all started to punch holes in the West defence and when Good went in off Manawaiti’s pass, Ayr had turned possible defeat into potential bonus ponit. Ferguson slotted the conversion as did Barclay with a penalty six minutes from time to add a frisson to the final minutes. It was pretty certain though that having kept their line intact all afternoon, Ayr would hardly let it be breached at the end.
Scorers: Ayr: Tries: Good (2), Wright. Cons: Ferguson (2). Pen: Reid. West of Scotland: Pens: Barclay (5). Drop-goal: Goldie.
Ayr: G Ferguson; S Hazley, K Brunning, R Good, S Little; A Reid, M Goldie; G Sykes, N Meikle, E Logan, D Kelly, B Irvine, S Heaton, T Wright, E Manawaiti. Subs: P McKinlay for Reid, 50mins. J Lymburn for Meikle, A Kelly for Logan, 55. I Cook for Heaton, 77.
West of Scotland: K Barclay; R Lothian, G Thomson, I Steel, M Fillipini; S Goldie, N McLeod; C Hastie, F Thomson, D Gibb, J Livingston, G Perret, K Gilmartin, S Sheridan, A Goddard. Subs: I McKinnon for Gibb, 62. Referee: M Valentine (Stewartry).
East Kilbride 10
Murrayfield Wands 16
THE net effect of all the huffing and puffing and splashing about on the paddy field that was East Kilbride’s Torrance House pitch, is that courtesy of their 16-10 victory, Wanderers leap-frog the new town men to lie second bottom, consigning EK to the lowest place, writes Stuart Sutherland.
But all is not yet lost - for either side. The five bottom sides are separated by only five points, so as EK coach Stevie Blair commented: "if we can string two wins together, we can be back up in mid-table."
Peter Wright, the Wanderers coach also believed his charges could escape the drop, declaring: "I’ve been confident all season; it’s getting the guys to believe it that’s the problem."
Given the dreadful underfoot conditions (there was reluctance from both camps to play the game at all), the intermittent rain and the swirling cold wind, there was understandably a paucity of flowing back moves, but both sides on occasion demonstrated that they had the ability to string passes together. It was just that Wanderers did it more often. They were also better at ball retention, and effectively cleaned out the line-outs.
With scrum-half Neil MacDonald hoisting a series of pinpoint box kicks which had the home defenders scrambling, it is a testament to the tenacity of the EK defence that Murrayfield were limited to only one try which was scored by Graham Jessop.
Carl McWilliam had the balance of the visitors’ points from the conversion and three penalties. Neil Spottiswood got the EK try, Gordon Steven converting and adding a penalty which earned the home side what might yet turn out to be an important "close loss" bonus point.
Scorers: East Kilbride: Try: Spottiswood. Con: Steven. Pen: Steven. Murrayfield: Try: Jessop. Con: McWilliam. Pens McWilliam (3).
East Kilbride: G Steven; N Spottiswood, G Lindsay, J Kerr, A McDonald; C Redpath, F Stott; R Guthrie, S MacKinnon, S Turnbull, S Male, C Houston, C Pollock, A Strockosch, G Tippett. Subs: F Sinclair for Kerr, 40mins. R Anderson for S MacKinnon, 50. F MacKinnon for Turnbull, 65. S Legget for Hourston, 55.
Murrayfield Wanderers: C Bruce; A Broatch, G Jessop, C Dove, N Redpath; C McWilliam, N MacDonald; P Duguid, J Peggie, L Fourie, J Morrison, G Hann, N McCallum, G Sutherland, G Adams.
Referee: M Stevenson (Stirling County)