a late Bulls rise deprives Watsonians of title celebrations

DAVID BARNES @Millbrae

The visitors needed a bonus win from this match to secure the 2022 Super6 Sprint Series title with a game in hand, and that looked like a formality when substitute winger Karl Main exploded for his team’s third attempt to make it 24-0. with an hour played – but the Bulls dug deep to win three late tries that saved respectability on the scoreboard and reinforced head coach Pete Horne’s belief that he has the base of a team capable of competing in the Super6 Championship after the summer.

“In the first half we were completely out of the game,” Horne admitted. “We had a few chances right at the start where they defended very well and we struggled to cross the line. After that we barely touched the ball, our line-up struggled, we lost a lot of configuration, and we just didn’t sniff.

“So when I got in at half-time, I just told the boys we had to shoot. We know we can win two, three, four tries when we get into a roll, as we showed at the end, but unfortunately it wasn’t until those last 10 minutes that we really started to hold the ball and cross the line. ”


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“We have work to do, so we’ll regroup during the little break we have now, but we’re not too far away,” he concluded. “If we can put our arrangement in order, we’ll be in a much better place. There won’t be too much turnover in the squad and a lot of young kids have had a good playing time in the last two weeks, so they’ll be much better prepared for this level after that. ”

Opposite number Fergus Pringle was not too disappointed with his team falling out of the game after doing the hard work to get into that command lead.

“We were good in the first half but not as clinical as we could have been, so we came out in the second half and had to defend a lot more,” he reflected. “I thought we defended pretty well the whole game, but those last 10 minutes were a bit shaky.

“You have to look at the bigger picture,” he added. “Ayr stayed today, they are a good team and Millbrae is a difficult place to come, so we had to work hard to get the win.”

The Bulls started out pretty bright but a long period of pressure within the 22nd of Watsonians yielded nothing, with a little more variety perhaps required to reward the well-organized and disciplined defense of Watsonians.

Then, after the hosts were penalized twice within two minutes for holding, the visitors had their chance to press for the opening score, and after a few false starts they were off and running when a wave of rucks culminated with Edinburgh back. -vico Mesu Kunavalu noisy under the posts, easily converted by Lee Millar.

Post Dom Coetzer threatened down the left, and man-of-the-match Lomond MacPherson did the same on the right, the visitors extended their lead for 28 minutes as their forwards pressed the width out of Ayr’s defense and the ball was slammed out for MacPherson to move over.

Watsonians were prepared to extend their lead with five minutes from half to play when they had a ruck penalty 15 yards out and struck in front of the posts, but the sanction was reversed when one of the assistant referees pointed out that Kunavula had thrown a shoulder. into the breakdown after the whistle.

However, not for the first or last time, Bulls was unable to hold his own ball, which delivered the initiative back to Watsonians. A few minutes later Jason Baggott ghosted up in the middle of the park and it would certainly be test number three if the final pass to Seb Cecil had gone hand in hand.

The Edinburgh side had to settle for aMillar penalty on the half-time blow when the truculent Blair MacPherson was punished for hands in a ruck.

Bulls had to win later, and they came very close to doing so nine minutes into the second half when Bobby Beattie and Thomas Glendinning sent Cam Jones on a race to the corner following a rare Watsonians mix, but a shiny cover from Millar dragged the foot of the melee half into touch as he stretched for the line.

Jones had Watsonians fighting in defense again five minutes later when he broke from his own 22 following another dropped ball, but this time his kick along the tram lines as he crossed half bounced into touch before. Arron Tait was able to achieve it.

The arrival of Tom Jordan from the bench gave the Bulls an extra boost as they sought to claim the test needed to restart this game as a genuine contest, but there was no way through, and then Charles Main finished off another powerful Watsonians advance growth with just over an hour played.

One more Watsonians try was needed for that crucial bonus point that would claim the Super6 Sprint Series title with a game in hand, but Bulls would not lie and their determination ultimately paid off with three morale-boosting consolation scores during the last. 10 minutes.

The first was won by Thomas Glendinning ending a long period of pressure, the second by Finno Callaghan after a great piece of Jordan’s individuality grabbing his own piece before, and the third came through Glendinning again after Jones incorrectly kicked the Watsonians ’tiring defense.

Teams –

Ayrshire Bulls: Liam McNamara; T Glendinning, J Shedden (T Jordan 46), R Beattie, A Tait; M Minogue (F Callaghan 57, E Mcara 79), C Jones; A Nimmo (T Lambert, 24), G Stewart (R Tanner 46), M Scott (C Henderson 64-65), E Bloodworth, H Murray (E Bulger 24), Lewis McNamara, G Wilson (J Knight 57), B Macpherson.

Watsons: D Coetzer (G Cannie 60); L MacPherson, L Berg, L Millar, A Guthrie; J Baggott (C Eastgate 55), R Brand (B Young 74); S Grahamslaw (A McWilliam 74), C Davies (E Young, 74), B Bratton (G Scougall 51), L Ball (K van Niekerk 51), P Phillips, M Kunavula, S Cecil, I Moody (K Main 57) .

Referee: Ross Mabon

Scorers –

Ayrshire Bulls: Tests: Glendinning 2, Callaghan; Disadvantages: Jordan.

Watsons: Tests: Kunavalu, MacPherson, Main; With: Millar 3; Pen: Millar.

Scoring sequence (Ayrshire Bulls first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-17 (ht) 0-22; 0-24; 5-24; 7-24; 12-24; 14-24; 19-24; 21-24.

Yellow cards –

Watsons: Phillips (79 minutes)

Player-of-the-match: Watsonians winger Lomond MacPherson has a busy evening, winning his team’s second try, competing offensively in the air, coming off his wing to punch holes in the Bulls defense with a ball in hand, competing fiercely over a ball, and making his tackles.

Speech point: Tom Jordan made a huge impact off the bench struggling this week with a minor injury. The Kiwi player has been a class player week after week for the Bulls, and having signed a contract extension with Glasgow Warriors this week, he is likely to start getting regular playing time for the professional team after he qualifies as a Scottish resident in the Bulls. Autumn.


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