Cartha Queens Park 19
WATSONIANS left it ridiculously late to snatch victory in a cup semi-final that the sporting adjective 'rip roaring' might have been invented for.
Cartha Queens Park from Division Two led their Premiership 1 opponents for virtually the whole game and when the home side clawed themselves level with five minutes left, skipper Alan Gibbon suddenly ran 50 metres and side-stepped through three despairing tackles to put his team back in the lead.
That should have stuffed victory firmly in the bag, even though the conversion fell short, and the Cartha players were dreaming of running out at Murrayfield as the clock ticked into injury time.
But Watsonians made one last supreme effort and in the 83rd minute the formidable Cartha defence buckled to allow Bryan Rennie to crash over. Bernie Hennessey's conversion was a simple one, ten metres out and just to the right of the posts. He took his time, made no mistake and won the game.
"The legs had started to go in the second half," said Cartha coach Kenny Murray. "We are not used to playing at this level and at this pace but no-one is going to say we didn't compete. I thought we had it when it got to the 79th minute but Watsonians were always sharp and you can't take anything away from them."
If underdogs Cartha had held on to win it would have been no more than they deserved
in a match that might have been short on quality but was rich in incident and ambition.
"You can't say we don't give the punters value for money," said a relieved Watsonians captain Cammy Mather. "Cartha did very well, they were very stuffy. It reminds us we have no kind of God-given right to walk into these competitions and win them."
The first of two first-half tries saw winger Tony Nyangweso used his deceptively languid running style to cleave his way in at the corner after ten minutes. The second came minutes from the break when scrum-half John McCrossan took off into a gap from behind a scrum and offloaded in the tackle for flanker Nicol Smillie to finish it off. Watsonians had only a single penalty which opened the scoring to show for their efforts.
It was a different story in the second half with Watsonians laying siege to the Cartha line. It took 15 minutes of relentless pressure before Cartha were finally stretched too wide and even then it took a splendid underarm slip pass out of a tackle by Alan Nash to put Will Campbell over.
Two Hennessey penalties levelled the scores at 14-14.
The pendulum then swung in Cartha's favour with Gibbon's inspired try but regular kicker Ryan Moffat was in the sin-bin and Gibbon's conversion attempt fell short, before the dramatic finale settled the tie in Watsonians' favour.
Scorers. Watsonians: Tries: W Campbell, B Rennie. Cons: B Hennessey. Pens: B Hennessey 3. Cartha QP: Tries: T Nyangweso, N Smillie. A Gibbon. Cons: R Moffat 2.
Watsonians: W Campbell, A Nash, B Rennie, B Hennessey, C McWilliam, J Easton, J Blackwood, S Stevenson, S laird, P Tait, D payne, I Dryburgh, C Mather, G Hills, A Baddeley. Subs: K Coertze for Stevenson 28, G Wood for Laird 49, G Brown for Baddeley 62.
Cartha QP: P Leslie, T Nyangweso, A Gibbon, S Denny, G Grant, R Moffat, J McCrossan, R Gillies, N Robertson, R Harvey, E Smith, M Stevens, N Smillie, I Cook, D Cheney. Subs: A Lamont for Stevens 13, T Gray for Robertson 56.
Referee: R Dickson (Madras FP)