Ayrshire Bulls recover from first-half wobble to defeat Watsonians

Chris Elliot with the ball for Ayrshire Bulls against Watsonians.  Image: George McMillan
Chris Elliot with the ball for Ayrshire Bulls against Watsonians. Image: George McMillan

IAIN HAY@millbrae

AYRSHIRE BULLS earned the right to defend their Super Series title against Stirling Wolves next week by dominating the second half to beat the Watsonians – but only after a huge scare from the Watsonians who led three tries to one midway through The first half.

“For the 80 minutes, I thought it was a very fast, physical and structured game of rugby from both teams,” said a smiling Pat McArthur after. “Final matches are always on a knife edge for some time. Fortunately, we managed to get to halftime (with the score tied 19-19), regroup, see what we’ve been training on and where the spaces are.

The Bulls had taken the lead after a clever kick option from Reis Cullen led to a downed lineout from the Watsonians, the scrum-half also played the killer missed pass to Jamie Shedden score in the left corner, but the Watsonians responded with a barrage of counterattacks to stun the hosts and defending champions.

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The Watsonians’ only threat before Shedden’s first goal had been to charge at a Brad Roderick Evans kick, but they soon leveled the proceedings when Dom CoetzerPlaying with penalty advantage, he entered Roderick-Evans and then sent the pass back to Connor McAlpine to run out and score.

Coetzer then overtook the Watsonians when he intercepted Bobby Beattieand ran down the left wing to the try line, although Lee Millar was unable to add the conversion extras this time thanks to Luca Bardelli charging against the attempt.

Shortly after, a great success for Beattie for Neil Irvine-Hess handed possession to the Watsonians, who showed an impressive composition to recycle and wait for the gap to emerge. thousand to Luis Berg; Berga Freddy Owsley; Owsley to George Pringle: Try in the right corner and Millbrae was stunned.

However, the reigning champions have a habit of winning at home, and the Millbrae faithful were soon cheering almost from the restart. Ollie Horne He took a fast line that opened up enough room for Bardelli to head to his motor home. And then, as halftime approached, a Bulls penalty (awarded after Seb Cecil had turned his back on the jumping Shedden, causing him to fall awkwardly – ​​he went to the left corner, the Bulls felt it well, through their backs, and cris elliotClever offloading allowed Shedden to go close, with Roderick-Evans’ conversion leveling the scores at 19 apiece before going to the sheds for half-time.

Strong carries from Irvine-Hess and Berg at the start of the second half earned the Watsonians a penalty which Millar slotted right between the sticks, however the start did not foreshadow the rest of the half as it was the last time The Watsonians were in the lead, and it also turned out to be their last points.

The Bulls scrum had had the Watsonians under pressure at all times, and now they were on skates. The penalty went into the corner, another penalty was awarded for side tackling the maul, and then the Watsonians were needlessly reduced to 14 men for ten minutes.

While playing with the advantage of the penalty, Roderick-Evans had tried to get into the right corner, but was driven into touch, only for McAlpine to arrive late and drop on him. A fight broke out and after an argument with his assistant, the referee David Sutherland He looked for the yellow card and the Bulls took full advantage of it.

first, captain Blair MacPherson Scored easy-to-get scrum try then replaced loose header Jaime Drummond excavated from a short distance.

Another Cecil indiscretion, this time to address Luis McNamara without the ball, he offered Roderick-Evans a long-range shot towards goal that, if successful, would allow the Bulls to open up a 14-point lead.

The kick faded just outside the posts, but an excellent chase and tackle from Tim Brown It saw the Bulls regain possession just yards from the Watsonians line, and Drummond again managed to overcome the whitewash to end any hope of a comeback.

“The first 20 minutes we were in the contest and there were some good things and then they essentially just ‘out-scored’ us on Ayr,” offered the Watsonians head coach. Nikki Walker after.

“That’s what you get when you play Ayr at home. They had dominance up front, scrum and maul, and were winning penalties in scrums, kicking into the corners and putting more pressure on, and we just didn’t resist that well enough.

“You have to manage the game almost perfectly to keep them at bay and we just didn’t do it well enough to stay in the competition.”

Looking back on his first full season in charge, Walker said: “I’ve enjoyed it. We have improved, we have been a little disjointed, we have had many injuries. We have played most of the season with three pillars and we have had to find one to cover most weeks. I think when we are at our best we are as good as anyone in the league, but if we are slightly below, our lowest level of performance is probably not as good as the lowest level of Ayr or Heriot, so consistently during “This year we probably deserved to finish third.”

The Bulls will enter next week as favorites over the fickle Wolves but, as we’ve come to expect from MacArthur, he won’t take the challenge lightly.

“I’ve said it every time we play Stirling: they are a quality team hoping to beat big teams,” he said. “On paper: outstanding. They are physical, they have a lot of good attributes (some similar to ours, I would say) and every time we have achieved victories it has been a big relief, so I expect a really physical match again.”

Equipment –

Ayrshire bulls: Or Horné; J Shedden, C Elliot, R Beattie, L Bardelli; B Roderick-Evans, R Cullen; A Nimmo, A McGuire, C Henderson, E Bloodworth, R Jackson, R Sweeney, L McNamara, B Macpherson©. Subs: R Tanner, J Drummond, C Miller, O Baird, T Brown, F Johnston, C Townsend, T Glendinning.

Watsonians: D Coetzer; G Pringle, L Berg, S King, F Owsley; Millar L, McAlpine C; C Davidson, J Kerr, G Scougall, L Ball, K van Niekerk, S Cecil, K Main, N Irvine-Hess©. Subs: P Harrison, D Voas, B Bratton, K Watt, A Scopes, F Duraj, M McAndrew, J Baggott.

Referees: David Sutherland

Scorers –

Ayrshire bulls: Tries: Shedden 2, Bardelli, Macpherson, Drummond 2; Cons: Roderick-Evans 4.

Watsonians: Attempts: McAlpine, Coetzer, Pringle; Disadvantages: Millar 2; Thought: Thousand.

Scoring sequence (Ayrshire Bulls): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-7; 7-12; 7-17; 7-19; 12-19; 17-19; 7-7 p.m. (time) 7-10 p.m.; 24-22; 26-22; 31-22; 33-22; 38-22

Yellow cards –

Watsonians: McAlpine

Player of the match: He gave life to his team and when it looked like he could escape Ayr, he played with pace and precision to get his team up the field, so the Bulls scrum half Reis Cullen he takes it.

Talking points: A nasty early clash of heads between Ryan Sweeney and Craig Davidson saw both men receive treatment and Davidson having to be taken off, so congratulations to Donald Voss for a 75 minute head-loosing session.

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