2007/2008: Scottish Premiership One



A. Rowe15M. Dunn
C. Sorbie14C. Binnie
A. Skeen13C. McKay
D. Brown12A. Bulloch
R. Steyl11A. Rushforth
M. Ker10J. Noonan
E. Howe9J. Wright
K. Traynor1J. Welsh
G. Wood2D. Sutherland
K. Coertzee3A. Kelly
J. Nicolson4J. Reid
T. Callander5J. Paine
J. Pelter6G. Harkness
W. Lipp7D. Chaney
S.Paulo8C. Forrester
A. Nash16D. Ziolo
N. Hart17T. Mocelutu
S. Waddell18G. Williamson
B. Di Rollo19P. Harkins
A. Welsh20A. Chambers
Di Rollo, Nash, Nicholson, Pelter, Rowe, SkeenTryMcKay, Welsh
Ker (3), Skeen (2)ConNoonan
Mr G. Knox (Greenock Wanderers)


Rising Watsonian star Will Lipp reckons this win over GHA at Myreside should act as a warning for those ready to predict that the club’s Scottish Hydro Electric Premiership title challenge will be anything less than robust this season. According to back row ace Lipp, a six-tries-to-two romp showed last week’s false start at Hawick to be exactly that – a false start.

And he is adamant there is much, much more to come from a side which appears capable of taking transition – there were three home debutants on Saturday – in their stride. “We did what we needed to prove a point that we were better than our result at Hawick showed,” said Lipp. But he admitted: “It could have been better and will have to be because the target is to do better than last year.” Still seven months short of his 21st birthday he has already proved an ever-present in helping the last three Scotland age-group campaigns at under-18, under-19 and under-20 level. What’s more he has been prepared to uproot from his native Aberdeenshire in pursuit of a pro career, with Watsonians a staging post. Clearly driven and with a physique to match he is highly articulate, too, in knowing what he wants. “I’m beginning my second season with Watsonians because they are a good club with a coach like Cammy Mather I can learn from. “It’s a bit of a nightmare that the Scottish under-21s are now scrapped but hopefully if I play as hard as I can with Watsonians a contract will come up somewhere. “Cammy is one of a number of coaches I have had who have pushed me and without that I’m never going to get too far. I need to be pushed and the message is keep kicking my ****.”

There was little need to push Lipp much further on Saturday as it was his tidying and distribution from No.8 that helped offset some heavy scrummage pressure from GHA. Despite these shortcomings, too, Watsonians generated sufficient possession for four of their six tries to come from outside backs and with a string of individuals due back the outlook can be particularly bright given the way they finished firing on all cylinders. As magnanimous GHA coach Roddy Moir said: “The scoreline was not a fair reflection considering what we put into the first half [the hosts led 14-8]. But there is no getting away from the fact Watsonians shifted the ball well with long wide passes while we stood off. “Also, Watsonians were fitter allowing for the fact it is easier to get your puff when you are ahead and not chasing back to cover.” Such an assessment struck a chord with Lipp, originally from the Ellon club. He said: “We need to take advantage of hard grounds whenever possible given the calibre of backs we have. “As for our fitness it is something we have worked hard on and things are only going to get better.” Skipper Kyle Traynor is already attached to Edinburgh Rugby and as another 20-year-old knows there is everything to play for at prop forward.

Showing the natural confidence surely necessary to reach the top but within a determined approach, Traynor said: “Even when we trailed twice early on I don’t think victory was ever in doubt. “Our superior fitness told and while consistency was maybe lacking at times there was some good rugby at times. “To win with things that have to be worked on is a good way to progress. “We’ll look again at our scrummaging and also a tendency to concede penalties particularly within our 22.” There is only so much that can be coached, though, and inherent natural ability shone through at times, never more so than with the fourth try which sealed a bonus point after 64 minutes.

At face value there seemed nothing much on when GHA won a ruck on their own side of halfway but sensing the ball was out home full back Albert Rowe then used all his rugby nous and in a flash an awkward contest from the home perspective was over. Stepping over fallen players Rowe simply gathered to run 45 metres to the corner and GHA were never the same again. Assistant coach Andrew Ker appreciated such opportunism for helping to build much needed confidence after an opening day fall from grace. “They took the field with defeat by Hawick at the back of their minds so it took a wee bit longer to build this win but we got there,” said Ker. “We will get stronger, too, as players return from injury and others settle. For example Samoa A centre Malasai Mailo only flew in late on Friday night so had to be content with getting rid of jet lag in our seconds. “Of those who arrived earlier Eddie Howe is proving a very tidy and efficient scrum half from New Zealand and his compatriot Josh Abrahams will be back soon from injury to contest a back row spot. “Rohan Steyl is very, very sharp on the wing while student Johnny Pelter looked the part at flanker after arriving during the week from Bedford to study in Edinburgh.” Add to these the arrival of ex-Boroughmuir second row Stuart Waddell along with Bernie Hennessey returning from Rotherham as soon as a hand injury clears up and the cupboard appears especially well stocked. Hennessey will be back soon to contest the stand off spot with Mike Ker but already rivalry is up and running – if only in terms of who can sustain injury in the most bizarre circumstances. In Hennessey’s case, and unusually for a rugby player, damage to his hand was sustained while helping preparing Aberdeen football club’s Pittodrie pitch for the recent Scotland v South Africa international in his day job as a turf consultant. Not to be outdone Ker limped out of the No.10 role against GHA with his knee swollen after aggravating a knock sustained less than 12 hours earlier as he watched television. “I fell off the couch in my lounge watching Argentina beat France in the World Cup and an ice pack cured the problem until I got another blow,” said Ker.

For the record Jon Welsh gave GHA the lead with a try cancelled out by Skeen, whose touchdown was converted by Ker who also goaled a Pelter try following James Noonan’s 36th minute drop goal. Leading 14-8 at half time ‘Sonians forged ahead through tries by Jeff Nicolson and Rowe, held up only temporarily when centre Chris McKay stemmed the flow. And in a powerful finish substitutes Alan Nash and Ben Di Rollo added further tries from kicks ahead.

Source: The Scotsman, Monday 10th September 2007

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