Watsonians were crowned BT National League One champions yesterday after they comfortably defeated Howe of Fife to seal their return to the top tier of Scottish club rugby.
The Edinburgh side went into the match knowing that a bonus-point victory would be enough to see them lift the trophy, and they virtually achieved their objective by half-time with four converted tries in the opening 40 minutes.
They will now be in the BT Premiership in 2016-17, a return to the top flight for the capital outfit for the first time since 2010-11.
Having often finished in the top three or four in the second tier in recent seasons, but never quite getting over the promotion line, this year they got off to a flying start and have not looked back under coaches Marcus Di Rollo and Simon Taylor.
They have been well served by the likes of Ewan Miller, Rory Drummond, Andrew Chalmers, Scott McKean and top try scorer Mark Bertram this term, but it has been a real squad effort to see off the challenge of Marr.
Di Rollo, the head coach and former Scotland centre, said: “I am really proud of this group of players because this is a tough league to get out of.
“In previous years we have always fallen away just after Christmas, but this time the boys just kept on going and in fact we have saved some of our best performances for the last few weeks when it has really mattered.
“Whenever we have had a blip we have bounced back strongly and that is the sign of a good team. We have good leaders in the group and the players respond well to myself and Simon.
“Obviously it is the 20 boys who were playing in this match that got us over the line in the end, but I’d like to pay tribute to all of the other guys who have played for the first XV this term. It has been a squad effort and I am delighted.”
Howe of Fife started like a team who had travelled to Edinburgh to spoil a party and they took the lead after three minutes when stand-off Angus Guthrie kicked a penalty.
Watsonians got their first try on the board four minutes later when a good break by winger McKean down the left set up centre Scott McLeod to go over. Stand-off Chalmers converted from the touchline.
The second try by the home side came in the 16th minute when another slick backs move down the left wing took McKean over this time. Chalmers again converted and it was 14-3.
In the 25th minute the home pack were in the ascendancy and it was no surprise when they scored a pushover try with No.8 Drummond, a former Howe player, the scorer. Chalmers again converted.
Watsonians needed just one more try to make sure of the title at that point, but fair play to Howe – they certainly did not lie down and seven minutes before half-time they scored. It came after a patient build-up, No.8 Rob Lind the man going over for a try with Guthrie converting.
However, in the 38th minute Watsonians scored the try that gave them the title. It came after a long period of possession and in the end scrum-half Reiss Cullen showed quick feet to dive over. Chalmers converted.
The second half got under way as the first had ended, with a Watsonians try. McKean was the scorer and he soon completed his hat-trick to make it 42-10. Back-row Miller then got in on the act as did replacement Jonny Neary and it was 54-10 and the title celebrations were in full swing.
With 16 minutes remaining Howe of Fife scored their second try through skipper Stewart Lathangie, but this was Watonians’ day.
And they rounded things off in style when second-row Romain Denonain dived over after a great break by winger Bertram.