FOSROC Super Series Championship | Review of Semi-Finals
The FOSROC Super Series Championship semi-finals took place this weekend in addition to the rescheduled Round 9 fixture - here's how each of the teams got on.
Friday 10 November: Semi-Final 1 – Heriot’s Rugby v Stirling Wolves
There was a real buzz in the air at Hawthornden as the first semi-final of the 2023 FOSROC Super Series Championship got underway. There was 12-minutes on the clock when Heriot’s conceded a penalty in their own half but unfortunately Marcus Holden’s kick went wide.
Spurred on by that first potential taste of points Wolves added their first seven to the board soon after. A successful line in throw led to a driving maul and there was no stopping the pack once they got moving and it was Gregor Hiddleston who grounded the ball over the line. Holden had better luck with his kicking this time and the conversion soared through the posts.
Wolves second try quickly followed their first after Ed Hasdell picked the ball up from the halfway line and squeezed through a gap in Heriot’s defence, no one could stop him as he sprinted to the try line and crashed over the whitewash. Extras were missed.
Heriot’s got their first try of the game after just over 20 minutes of play. They began going in for a driving maul of their own, but the ball slipped out the side where Ruairidh Leishman kept it in play, and it was Fin Campbell who gathered and weaved through the Wolves defence to go in under the sticks. Ross Jones’ added the extra two points.
Stirling Wolves extended their lead following a spectacular kick from Wolves Ben Afshar from his own half set the line out up perfectly in the corner. The crowd was treated to a spot of déjà-vu in a repeat of their first try as another driving maul went to deck with Connor Gordon at the helm. The conversion was successful, and Wolves entered the break in the lead.
HALF-TIME: Heriot’s Rugby 7 – 19 Stirling Wolves
Heriot’s opened the scoring in the second half after a strategic penalty kick to touch led to a powerful driving maul from their 5-metre line. A pass out the back was collected by Matt Davidson, and he sprinted over the line. Conversion was successful.
What followed was twenty-five minutes of ariel ping-pong with both teams going back and forth and neither capitalising on any territory gained. Until, as we entered the final ten minutes of the game, it was Ross McKnight who went over for an opportunistic try for Wolves. Craig Jackson had taken over kicking duties and the conversion was a good one.
In a last-gasp moment of frenzy Heriot’s crashed over the line from short-range for a consolation score from Struan Cessford but the seven points mattered not at this point as Stirling Wolves had already made history by securing their ticket to their FOSRCO Super Series Championship Final.
FULL-TIME: Heriot’s Rugby 21 – 26 Stirling Wolves
Referee: Ruairidh Campbell
FOSROC Player of the Match: Connor Gordon (Stirling Wolves)
Heriot’s Rugby: Fin Cambell, Matt Davidson, Struan Cessford
Stirling Wolves: Gregor Hiddleston, Connor Gordon, Ed Hasdell, Ross McKnight
Heriot’s Rugby: Ross Jones (3)
Stirling Wolves: Marcus Holden (2), Craig Jackson
Saturday 11 November: Semi-Final 2 – Ayrshire Bulls v Watsonians
This semi-final was always going to be a fiercely fought contest with both teams desperate to return to Hive Stadium for a chance to walk away with the Championship title.
Watsonians discipline slipped at the start of the game, where they were just metres from the try line, but a couple of back-to-back penalties allowed Bulls to easily enter their 22 where they remained until they got their first try. A pass out the wing was scooped up by Jamie Shedden and he dashed over the line. The conversion by Brad Roderick-Evans was successful.
The visitors did not let Bulls lead last very long as they quickly responded when an offload from Dom Coetzer to Connor McAlpine sent him through Bulls defence for the try. Lee Millar’s conversion soared through the posts.
Watsonians second try came quickly after their first when a pass from Bulls Bobbie Beatie was skilfully intercepted by Dom Coetzer who sprinted from his own half and not a Bulls player on the pitch could keep up with him as he crashed over the whitewash. Unfortunately, Millar’s kick never made it to the posts.
Fuelled from their first two, Watsonians went over for their third soon after with a pass out to the wing was secured by George Pringle who dotted the ball down in the corner. Extras were added and the visitors extended their lead further.
Bulls retaliated quickly from the restart after a quick lineout from Ollie Horne saw some beautiful partnership work between him and Reiss Cullen which got the ball down into Watsonians 22. After a series of offloads, it was Bulls winger Luca Bardelli who went in for the try in the corner. Extras were missed.
The final try of the first half came from Bulls as their driving maul crawled towards the line and a series of successful passes out to the wing found Jamie Shedden once again as he went over for the brace. The conversion was successful which evened the scoreboard as we entered the break.
HALF-TIME: Ayrshire Bulls 19 – 19 Watsonians
An early penalty for Watsonians after repeated infringements from Bulls opened the second half scoring, Millar’s kick was a good one and Watsonians inched ahead by three points.
Tensions were running high and referee David Sutherland drew a yellow card for Watsonians Connor McAlpine putting the boys in maroon in a precarious position with only 14 men on the field.
Ayrshire Bulls capitalised on this quickly as they deployed their powerful driving maul, and the herd was unstoppable with skipper Blair Macpherson going over for the try. The conversion was successful, and the hosts put four points between them on the scoreboard.
The Bulls forwards put in an incredible shift in the next phase of play as Jamie Drummond squeezed over the line for the home-side’s fifth try at the 60-minute mark. The kick was good, and the Bulls lead was extended.
Brad Roderick-Evan opted to kick to the posts for a penalty in the final five minutes which put the Bulls in an adventitious position within Watsonians 22. They displayed some powerful attacking play which sent Jamie Drummond over the line for his brace. The conversion was unsuccessful but was not needed as Bulls had done more than enough to return to Hive Stadium for the Championship Final.
FULL-TIME: Ayrshire Bulls 38 – 22 Watsonians
Referee: David Sutherland
FOSROC Player of the Match: Reiss Cullen (Ayrshire Bulls)
Ayrshire Bulls: Jamie Shedden (2), Luca Bardelli, Blair Macpherson, Jamie Drummond (2)
Watsonians: Connor McAlpine, Dom Coetzer, George Pringle
Ayrshire Bulls: Brad Roderick-Evans (4)
Watsonians: Lee Millar (2)
Watsonians: Lee Millar
Watsonians: Connor McAlpine
Friday 10 November: Boroughmuir Bears v FOSROC Future XV (Rescheduled Round 9 fixture)
The FOSROC Future XV began scoring for the night after a series of phases let the ball get into the hands of Freddy Douglas who crashed through the Bears defence and over the line. Matt Urwin’s kick was good, completing the full points.
It was a relentless spell of both attack from the Bears and defence from the Futures but the Bears managed to get their first try on the scoreboard through second row Kieran Westlake who splintered through the defence to reach over the line.
After a couple of penalties were awarded to the Futures, the forwards used all their might to get past the Bears defence, but they opted to pass out wide to the backs. It went through the numbers and a long looping pass was on its way to Kerr Johnston on the wing, however Bears’ fullback Euan Muirhead slapped the ball, knocking it on. The ref made the decision to award a penalty try to the visitors and the fullback was shown a yellow card for this infringement.
The Bears responded quickly and a heavy driving maul with Corey Tait at the helm let the hosts drive the hooker through and over the whitewash.
Just before the half time whistle, the Future XV were determined to get another try in the bag. It was another series of heavy attacking phases before Number 8 Ollie Duncan crashed over the line, securing his team their third try.
HALF TIME: Boroughmuir Bears 10 – 19 FOSROC Future XV
Corey Tait added his name to the scoreboard for the second time when after a heavy shift from the forwards let the hooker find space in the defence and dive over the line. Andy McLean’s boot was good, bringing the Bears to two points behind their visitors.
The referee showed a yellow card to Futures scrumhalf Finn Burgess for a deliberate knock on and he was sent to spend ten minutes in the sin bin.
A Bears try came in quick succession after the card was shown when Scott McGinley slipped through the defence to dive over. The kick was added by Andy McLean.
After a spell of back and forth, the Bears added another five points when a successful line out let Scott Robeson get his hands on the ball, pierce through the defence and dot down over the whitewash. Andy McLean’s kick was good again.
FULL TIME: Boroughmuir Bears 31 – 19 FOSROC Future XV
Referee: Finlay Brown
FOSROC Player of the Match: Corey Tait (Boroughmuir Bears)
Boroughmuir Bears: Kieran Westlake, Corey Tait (2), Scott McGinley, Scott Robeson
FOSROC Future XV: Freddy Douglas, PENALTY TRY, Ollie Duncan
Boroughmuir Bears: Andy McLean (3)
FOSROC Future XV: Matt Urwin
Boroughmuir Bears: Euan Muirhead
FOSROC Future XV: Finn Burgess