SWIFT RETRIBUTION FROM DOUBLE CHASING CHAMPIONS

GHA RFC Match 20: WATSONIANS FC 36 – 3 GHA RFC

2002/2003: Scottish Cup 5th Round

WATSONIANS FC 

GHA RFC

B. Hennessy 15 N. Barrett
G. Haley 14 R. Watson
R. McKeown 13 A. Gibbon
J. Mayer 12 R. Armour
A. Turnbull 11 A. Scott
C. Gregor 10 J. Noonan
D. Symmons 9 S. O’Donnell
K Coertzee 1 R. Nolan
G Schoeman 2 I. Nelson
A. Welsh 3 D. Jamieson
D. Burns 4 N. Tuwhangai
C. Houston 5 J. Reid
S. Begley 6 E. Smith
G. Brown 7 J. Fitzpatrick
B. Blignaut 8 T. Carmichael
G. Dickson 16  S. MacKinnon
W. Scott 17  J. Mundell
B. King 18
19
Haley (2), Brown, Symmons Try
Hennessy (2) Con
Hennessy (4) Pen  Noonan
DG
Referee
Mr A Slorrance (Portobello)

They are playing it cool over the possibility of emulating Boroughmuir and Gala who have won the Division 2 title and the cup in the same year, but those connected with Watsonians must now see it as a possibility.

The pain of surrendering their unbeaten league record to GHA the previous week lasted only seven days, and the manner in which the Edinburgh side dismantled a team which on current terms, is among the 12 best in Scotland, suggests that their BT Cup run may still have some mileage. GHA had accomplished their aim for the season with that win to secure promotion, and David Wilson, their assistant coach, admitted that, pleasant though an extended run in the cup would have been there was no despondency among the Braidholm players.

Certainly, if they can hang on to Jamie Mayer in the centre, the former Scotland player having reappeared at his first club after a gap of some five years. More importantly, if they can keep their talismanic wing and captain Graeme Haley healthy and in the sort of voracious mood he was in yesterday anything is possible. Haley, an ex-professional with London Irish, scored two sumptuous tries against a gallant but outgunned GHA and his appetite for work had to be seen to be believed. The South African is a confrontational sort of wing with a long stride and deceptive pace and the visitors at times found him simply uncontainable. Both his tries were extraordinary efforts involving pace and power but he was also happy to act as an extra forward at times and take the ball into contact. Haley, however, was keen later to give credit to Mayer, who has been released by Leeds, insisting: “Jamie is just coming back into it and it was great to see him out there. “Most of us have never seen him play, but he stands up in the tackle and his distribution is great. The longer we can hang on to him the better for us.” There were, however, no arguments about who was man of the match.

The odds against GHA repeating their league victory of the previous weekend over the champions lengthened before the start when it was decided to rest prop, and co-coach, Gavin Walsh and the influential No8 Andy Plastow pulled out with an injury. But although they spent most of the 80 minutes defending within their own half the spirit of the Glasgow side was never quite quelled although the feeling is that they will have to do some heavy recruiting to make a fist of life in the top flight next season. Last week’s defeat had clearly stung the coaching staff of Gary Callander and Roger Baird at Myreside for as Haley revealed later: “Roger and Gary gave us a hell of a week in training after losing to GHA last week and we had worked on a 10-man game, and the conditions suited that.”

GHA had the better of the opening exchanges, however, with Watsonians giving away far too many penalties. GHA stand-off James Noonan missed two early kickable attempts, but made no mistake with the third on five minutes. Home full-back Bernard Hennessy levelled two minutes later and from then on it was virtually one-way traffic, although GHA, even without Gavin Walsh, seemed to hold a consistent edge in the front row. But they couldn’t cope with the power of the Watsonians pack overall, this being illustrated in startling fashion eight minutes before half-time when the whole home forward pack drove 20 metres over the GHA line like a runaway bus. The flanker Gavin Brown was finally named as the try-scorer, but really the credit should have been divided by eight.

From then on, Watsonians concentrated largely on picking and driving with Hennessy making the most of two early penalty awards in the second half until Haley scored the first of his two tries, a fabulous effort sparked by a searing run from opposiite wing Andrew Turnbull, as small and elusive as Haley is big and powerful. When Trunbull chipped ahead on the 22, determined drives by Mayer and Walter Scott sucked in the GHA cover and when the ball came back right Haley was given the glimpse of an overlap and that was that. Hennessy converted and at 21-3 there seemed no way back for the visitors, although it must be said they never gave up trying. But their brief spell of pressure on the home line was rewarded by a turnover and Haley was away, straining 45 metres to the GHA line with the cover in futile pursuit. The visiting cause was made to look even more hopeless when centre Ross Armour was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Turnbull. Hennessy punished them with the penalty and with three minutes left, scrum-half David Symmons charged down Nick Barrett’s tardy attempt at a clearance kick and won the race to the ball. Watsonians have enjoyed a marvellous season and their cup run is seen at Myreside as a bonus. They appear to have a healthy squad and Baird, for one, believes that their success will attract even more talent to the club.

Source: The Scotsman & The Glasgow Herald, Monday 3rd February 2003

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