FOSROC Super6 Third/Fourth Place Final
Watsonians edged a thoroughly entertaining match under the Myreside lights tonight to take third place in this season’s FOSROC Super6.
Watsonians 21 Stirling County 19
The hosts had been clinical at the business end of the first-half at which they led 21-7 and though Stirling brought spark and a tigerish fightback in the second period, it was just not enough.
Ben Muncaster, who has already represented Scotland under-20, was a worthy recipient of the FOSROC Player of the Match award giving a pulverising lead to the home pack.
During the competition stages, both teams won their home fixture with the match at Bridgehaugh back in September an 11-try thriller, generating the highest cumulative total of the competition, as County won 41-39.
Muncaster, on the Edinburgh Rugby roster, looked lively in the early exchanges and there were some equally pleasing touches from the visitors’ left-wing Tom Roche, who sought to play the game at tempo.
In the 16th minute close-range lineout possession and some slick hands from home stand-off Marc Morrison looked to set Dom Coetzer free but his opposite number Craig Robertson was strong in the tackle and Watsonians knocked on at the subsequent breakdown for the chance to go abegging.
It was into the second quarter before the game’s opening points. Muncaster’s belligerence on the right was integral and then a midfield intrusion and good hands from Ru Smith enabled centre Jordan Venter to thunder through. Morrison converted (7-0, 24 mins).
Stirling’s response was immediate. Archie Russell sliced through in midfield and though his pass went astray, Watsonians were pinged for going to deck. The penalty was dispatched to the touchline from where the County forwards rumbled to enable prop Murphy Walker – fresh from Glasgow Warriors duty against South African opposition in the URC last weekend – to crash over. Craig Robertson converted from the left (7-7, 28 mins).
The driving maul was pivotal to that try and so it proved at the other end as Watsonians chugged forward and released at the perfect moment for Reiss Cullen to link with Morrison and his pass sent Venter in for his second try. Morrison goaled (14-7, 36 mins).
On the stroke of half-time from a technical penalty, which Watsonians fired up the touchline, Michael Badenhorst cranked up the driving maul, Cal Davies popped to Smith and his offload sparked a try for Cullen. Morrison kicked a majestic conversion (21-7, 40 mins).
Half-time: Watsonians 21 Stirling County 7
It was an animated start to the second-half with Robertson showing neat footballing skill to thwart a Watsonians attack and then Russell intercepting when Watsonians pressed again.
Stirling’s willingness to have a go was soon rewarded. We’d already seen Robertson’s desire to play the game at pace and from a wide pass from the full-back, Roche followed-up his own kick-ahead to gather, feed inside to supporting lock Byron Bowes and he timed his pass so sweetly to flanker Connor Gordon who stormed in for a cracking try. Robertson converted (21-14, 48 mins).
Bowes continued as a creative force, running at space off a breakdown to feed inside to Russell who romped in for another fine try from 55 metres. The conversion was sclaffed by Robertson, what was to prove a costly miss. (21-19, 52 mins).
Morrison miscued with a drop-goal attempt as the game moved into the final quarter.
Most of it was spent with Watsonians on the front foot, with Muncaster and Badenhorst frequently showing willing, but Stirling’s defence held firm.
At the death, a Stirling lineout misfired and Watsonians gleefully hoofed the ball off the field.
Full time: Watsonians 21 Stirling County 19
Watsonians: Dom Coetzer; Harvey Elms; Scott Kings, Jordan Venter, Ru Smith; Marc Morrison, Reiss Cullen; Harrison Courtney, Cal Davies, Angus Williams captain, Kieran Watt, Michael Badenhorst, Ben Muncaster, Campbell Wilson, Sam Daly.
Subs: Ross Graham, Sam Grahamslaw, Nathan Borel, Kwagga Van Niekerk, Karl Main, Luis Ball, Roan Frostwick, Angus Hoffie.
Stirling County: Craig Robertson; Steven Hamilton, Archie Russell, Grant Hughes, Tom Rochie; Andrew Goudie, Caleb Korteweg; Lewis Skinner, Reyner Kennedy captain, Murphy Walker, James Pow, Byron Bowes, George Arnott, Connor Gordon, Dean Taylor-Menzies.
Subs: Angus Fraser, George Breese, JP Phelan, Josh King, Callum Cruickshank, Marcus Holden, Landon Hayes, Ross McKnight.
Referee Ian Kenny. Assistant Referees: Michael Todd and Jonny Perriam
FOSROC Player of the Match: Ben Muncaster (Watsonians Rugby)
Watsonians Rugby: TRY Jordan Venter (2), Reiss Cullen CON Marc Morrison (3)
Stirling County: TRY: Murphy Walker, Connor Gordon, Archie Russell CON Craig Robertson (2)