Boroughmuir coach Bruce Aitchison is demanding more from his men as they resume their challenge for the RBS National League title with the visit of Peebles to Meggetland on Saturday.
Aitchison was happy to see his men post a 34-15 win over near neighbours Watsonians in Saturday’s RBS Cup clash. But, despite a result that restored the winning feeling after two successive league defeats, he was not entirely satisfied.
“It was far below the standard that we expect of that group of players,” he said. And of the recent downturn which has weakened Boroughmuir’s table-topping position, he added: “It’s not so much the results, it’s the performances that have been a concern. The results come as a product of how we perform. We’ve hit a wee spell where we have not performed the way we require and demand of these players.” Aitchison’s men were never headed and rarely looked in danger against a Watsonians side that bore little resemblance to the team that has featured on league duty over recent weeks. However, the visitors battled gamely and their coach Marcus Di Rollo was delighted with the performances of several of his youngsters.
“We’ve just got to manage the squad as best we can. I think games like this are good to let us have a look at certain players. I was pleased with it. I saw a few guys in a new light. Sometimes you go through a season and you never get a chance to see the guys playing in the twos,” he said.
His decision to use the match as an opportunity to blood a clutch of inexperienced players was indicative of Di Rollo’s views on the current format of the cup, which has been robbed of its former lustre by the decision to play the early rounds on a regional basis and in qualifying pools. “To be honest, I don’t think the structure is very good. There are lots of pointless games. In the old system, I remember playing Wigtownshire and Strathendrick in the early rounds. It was a big day out for them. That was the magic of the cup. Now there is no travel involved, you are in regions and even if you win your group you play someone else in your region,” said the former Scotland centre.
“I would prefer to be playing meaningful rugby every weekend and I would increase the top two leagues to 14 teams. Then there would be no gaps in the season and we could play meaningful rugby every week.”
And his views struck a chord with Aitchison who said: “If it was a straight knockout there would be a bit more excitement. There are clubs that are finding it difficult to maintain any interest in a competition that they know will give them no end product.
“The premier teams used to be pitched in away against smaller clubs. I had some brilliant Saturday afternoons. When I was at Dundee, we went to Leith and they were phenomenal in hosting us. At Watsonians we went to Dumfries and Annan. They are tremendous trips and that’s what rugby is about.”
Saturday’s win keeps Boroughmuir on track for the knockout stages. They reached the break with a 13-3 advantage, a scoreline that was a fair reflection of the half which had seen the hosts play the more enterprising rugby while finding it difficult to break down a the Watsonians defence.
David Reekie and Ally Ledingham had an early penalty apiece but a long-range three pointer by Reekie edged the home side into a lead they would not surrender. By the interval, the gap had stretched to ten points after Joni Hare capped the first half’s best passage of flowing rugby when he crashed over in the corner and Reekie kicked the conversion.
Matt Page dotted down for Watsonians in response to a converted score by Greig Scott before the hosts clinched all five league points with further tries by Steve Wilson and Murray Johnston, both converted by Reekie’s immaculate boot.
However, it was the visitors who had the final word when Connor McLeod forced his way over and Ledingham added the extras.
Boroughmuir: Tries: Hare, Scott, Wilson, Johnston. Cons: Reekie (4). Pens: Reekie (2)
Watsonians: Tries: Page, McLeod. Con: Ledingham. Pen: Ledingham
Boroughmuir: E Farquharson, J Webster, A Cox, S Wilson, R Cairns, D Reekie, J Adams, S Laird, C Davies, N Fraser, G Scott, T Sutton, J Hare, A Rose, I Moody. Subs used: D Miller, J Latta, M Bradbury, M Johnston, G Blackhall
Watsonians: M Page, D Johnson, S Niven, C Berkery, E Miller, A Ledingham, C Hunter, M Christie, A Ross, T Gracie, M Poole, C Smith, N Dennis, R Buchan, D Henry. Subs used: E Martin, C McLeod, G Brown, J Thomson, H Carmichael
Referee: D McClement (SRU Academy)