David Graham @ Dam Health Stadium

Head Coach Pat MacArthur was proud of his players but it was heartbreak for the Ayrshire Bulls this afternoon in Edinburgh as Watsonians clinched the FOSROC Super6 Championship in extra-time after an enthralling encounter in the capital!

Both sides put on a real show in the season finale, having dominated the Championship throughout and Sprint Series earlier in the year.

Injuries played a major factor with the Bulls playing the entire second half (bar 8 minutes) having used all their replacements, with a number of players playing out of position.

There were notable injuries to captain Blair Macpherson, try scorer Andy Stirrat and centre Bobby Beattie which resulted in the Bulls finishing the game with effectively two number 9’s and a prop in the second row, to name but a few.

The Bulls controlled the opening exchanges with intense pressure on the Watsonians defence, however it was Watsonians who opened the scoring with a penalty after 14 minutes.

A resilient Bulls backline thwarted a Watsonians try but a cheap penalty allowed Jason Baggott to bag the first points of the final with a conversion from deep inside the Bulls half.

The Bulls rallied and were soon ahead within three minutes, courtesy of Andrew Stirrat. A superb Bulls attack and quick ball found Stirrat with space to score under the posts, Richie Simpson maintaining his 100% strike rate to add the conversion for a 7-3 lead.

With just over 20 minutes played the Bulls extended their lead.

Aaron Tait found space between the Watsonians defence, after a ruck and quick break from the Bulls, holding off the tackles for an emphatic try!

Richie Simpson was once again on-hand to add a simple conversion.

Watsonians reduced the deficit after the half hour mark, when Bobby Bratton forced his way to the try line after some good initial Bulls defensive work inside their own 22’. Baggott added the conversion to close the gap to four points.

Half-Time: Watsonians 10-14 Ayrshire Bulls

Bobby Beattie almost broke free from a misplaced Watsonians pass, 90 seconds after the restart, however he was strongly brought down with a last-ditch tackle, sadly bringing his final to an early end.

Watsonians started the second period strongly, with some early pressure on the Bulls try line, but Macpherson and Co held strong to relieve that pressure and take the game to their opponents.

Some fine scrambling work from Tim Brown saw Watsonians give away a penalty, much to the delight of the travelling Millbrae faithful.

Will Hunt opted to kick for touch and after several phases of play and outstanding balls recycled from the rucks, the Bulls extended their lead by nine points.

Winger Elias Caven took full advantage of a superb through kick from Hunt that split the Watsonians defensive line to hit the try line in style! Hunt was unlucky to see his conversion hit the posts and go wide.

Watsonians would reduce the score to within two points after 56 minutes.

They continued to pile on the pressure but the Bulls were absolutely magnificent – it has to be said – in defence, clearing their lines after ten minutes or so stuck inside their own half.

Will Hunt would again find a magnificent kick, forcing Watsonians into an unforced error to give Bulls the lineout five metres from the try line.

The rucking from Bulls was superb once again and the quick balls would finally find that man Caven once again, to score in the corner and double his tally for the afternoon.

Hunt saw his conversion go narrowly wide to give the Bulls a seven point lead with ten minutes to play.

Watsonians had other ideas though and levelled the score four minutes from time to take it to extra-time.

Full-Time: Watsonians 24 – 24 Ayrshire Bulls

Halfway through the first period of extra time Watsonians would take the lead through Lewis Berg, with the try converted by Lee Miller.

They would then extend that lead, with two minutes of the first period remaining to lead 36-24 at the break.

The Bulls pushed to find a way back however it was Watsonians who saw the game out in the second period to lift the title, with a try and conversion in the final minute of the second extra time period.

Head Coach Pat MacArthur said afterwards,

“Everyone is proud of what we did out there.

Injuries hurt us. Emptying your bench after 49 minutes and losing senior players isn’t ideal but what came on after that was outstanding. We could have and maybe should have won it in the last few minutes of the game, so there is a real pride with that.

Going into extra time with the boys hanging together, it was always going to be a tough ask. The fact that in the second period of extra time we were putting pressure on them, that shows a huge amount of togetherness. So, I am really disappointed, but it gives us something to shoot for next year!”

Result: Watsonians 43-24 Ayrshire Bulls

Player of the Match: Davies (Watsonians)

Bulls Tries: Stirrat, Tait, Caven X2 ; Conversions: Simpson 2

WATSONIANS: 15. Coetzer 14. Macpherson 13. Berg 12. Reynolds 11.Guthrie 10. Baggott 9. Brand 1.Courtney 2.Davies 3. Bratton 4. Ball 5. Berrisford 6. Van Niekerk 7. Main 8. Cecil

AYRSHIRE BULLS: 15. McNamara 14. Tait 13. Beattie 12. Stirrat 11. Caven 10. Simpson 9. Lenac
1.Nimmo 2. Malcolm 3. Scott 4. Bloodworth 5. Jackson 6. Smeaton 7. Brown 8. Macpherson (C)

16. McGuire 17. Farquhar 18. Henderson 19. Drummond 20. Wilson 21. Glendinning 23. Hunt 24. Jones