Ayrshire Bulls achieved their second win from three games in the FOSROC Super 6 Series after inflicting a big defeat on the Southern Knights at The Greenyards with a performance that was based round strong forward play and rock-solid defence.
The Bulls looked a much more professional side than their opponents, such was their structure and, once they got into their stride, their ability to take scoring chances. In contrast, the Southern Knights looked error prone and inaccurate under pressure and in need of self examination.
“Individual errors cost us,” admitted the Knights’ coach Rob Chryste, adding: “We need to get better. Managing field position was a bit of an issue. If you keep asking a team to defend and defend it’s difficult.”
For the Bulls there were a number of impressive performers, not least stand-off Ross Thompson, who finished with a personal points tally of 14 that included a wonderfully executed try which lit up a rather dull match, where the driving maul was king.
The Ayrshire men used their strength in this area but only because the Bulls handed them chances to use their mauling strength, as Peter Murchie, their coach conceded. He said: “Southern Knights gave away a lot of penalties in the first half and gave us a lot of opportunities to kick to the corners. Defensively we forced a lot of errors. Picking up a bonus point was very good for us.”
In a tight contest, a penalty each by Thompson and Jason Baggott were the only scores until three minutes before half-time when Sam Kitchen, inset, finished off a driving maul for the first try of the game, converted by Thompson.
Then, in stoppage time, Thompson scored a peach of a try off a rolling maul, the stand-off taking Stafford McDowell’s pass to cut through the Knights’ defence, before adding the extras for a 17-3 interval lead.
The Bulls’ advantage was eroded ten minutes into the second half and again it was the rolling maul that was the weapon of choice but this time in the hands of the Knights, hooker Russell Anderson claiming the try to which Baggott added the extras.
In double-quick time the Bulls replied in kind. After a penalty kick to the corner following the trip to the sin-bin by Ewan McQuillin for a deliberate knock-on, the Bulls drove the resultant line-out ending with Kitchen scoring his second try.
The Knights were then forced to chase the game but their pursuit proved costly when they tried to kick the ball out of defence. In the event McDowell charged down Baggott’s attempted kick and then controlled the ball for the Bulls’ fourth and bonus-point try, converted by Thompson.
The Knights made changes and that seemed to add urgency to their game, notably when replacement scrum-half Struan Hutchison made a telling break only for the Bulls defence to close in, as indeed they had all game.