Watsonians coach Marcus Di Rollo was blunt in his assessment of a spluttering performance that ended in an 18-12 defeat against a combative Jed-forest side in BT National Division One at Myreside.
“We were just rubbish”, was the no-nonsense view of the former international centre. “It was far by our worst performance of the season – too many penalties, too many errors, just rubbish. Our penalty count was over 20 against. If you give away 20 penalties you are probably not going to win the game.”
While it was not all gloom, with solid contributions on Saturday from industrious back rowers Ross Drummond and Matt Coles and occasional glimpses of stand-off David Blair’s talents, the number of entries on the negative side irked Di Rollo.
“There were some good aspects but we couldn’t get momentum because of the infringements,” he added, pointing out that the defeat can serve as a catalyst to work harder over the coming week. “The guys are really disappointed but it is a big wake-up call if we want to go on and win the league.”
Sonians, who went into the match with a lead of ten points in the league, paid the price for failing to capitalise on a dominant first half performance in which they squandered several tryscoring opportunities and relied on Blair’s boot for their points. Indeed, Saturday was the first time this season that the Myreside men have failed to cross the whitewash.
The Capital side started strongly and Blair opened the scoring in two minutes with a straightforward penalty. The momentum was firmly with Sonians and there were 11 minutes on the clock before the Borderers crossed the halfway line. However, the hosts failed to add to their tally until Blair booted another three points in injury time for a 6-0 interval lead that was scant reward for their superiority.
He was also on target with two more penalties in the opening ten minutes of the second period and there was a feeling that Sonians were building the pressure that would eventually yield their 13th win of the campaign.
However, Jed have struck a rich vein of form over recent weeks and are now eyeing a finish in the top two. Scotland sevens internationalist Fraser Harkness had not featured significantly in the opening 40 minutes but his incursions in the second period proved to be the spark for the visitors to exploit the opportunities that came their way.
His break tore open the home defence and allowed Rory Marshall to dot down in the corner after 55 minutes. That sparked a spell in the ascendancy for Jed who cut the deficit to four points when Lewis Young kicked a penalty.
The pressure was starting to tell and the referee dispatched Sonians’ replacement scrum-half Reiss Cullen to the sin bin as the penalty count mounted.
Jed struck shortly afterwards, Marshall touching down for a second time. And they sealed the win two minutes from full time when Young sprinted over for his side’s third try.
While disappointed with the defeat, Di Rollo knows that the fate of his team is still within their control and he will now focus on preparing to rally his men for Saturday’s trip to meet Dundee High.
“There is still a long way to go. The biggest thing for us is to have a good week’s training and try to get the show back on the road,” he said. “The league is such that I don’t think anyone will go through the second half of the season unbeaten.”
Watsonians: Pens – Blair (4)
Jed-forest: Tries – Marshall (2), L Young. Pen – L Young
Watsonians: A Chalmers, M Bertram, S McLeod, D Innes, S McKean, D Blair, E McKirdy, M Christie, D Miller, A Marsh, C Harvey, T Callander, M Coles, J Neary, R Drumond. Subs: T Johnson, N Borel, D Rowe, R Cullen, R Steele
Jed-forest: L Young, R Marshall, G Young, F Harkness, R Shirra-Gibb, G Mein, D Ritchie, C Hogg, S Raeburn, P Ferreira, C Skeldon, G Law, G Stewart, C Cowan, M Weekley. Subs: G Paxton, H Snyman, J Hynd, G Taylor, G Robson
Referee: D Sutherland