Rugby’s Southern Knights celebrating first win since last October

​Rugby’s Southern Knights are celebrating after notching up their first win since October last year, also their first under current head coach Alan Tait, against new side Fosroc Future XV on Friday.
Donald Crawford on the ball for Southern Knights during their 39-38 Fosroc Super Series Championship win versus Fosroc Future XV at the Greenyards in Melrose on Friday (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group/SRU)Donald Crawford on the ball for Southern Knights during their 39-38 Fosroc Super Series Championship win versus Fosroc Future XV at the Greenyards in Melrose on Friday (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group/SRU)
Donald Crawford on the ball for Southern Knights during their 39-38 Fosroc Super Series Championship win versus Fosroc Future XV at the Greenyards in Melrose on Friday (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group/SRU)

​That victory might have been only by the narrowest of margins, 39-38, and might also have been hanging in the balance until the very end of the Knights’ Fosroc Super Series Championship opener at the Greenyards in Melrose but a win’s a win and Tait is hoping it will boost morale among his injury-ravaged squad.

“Ten seconds before the final whistle, I was steeling myself to give another speech thanking the lads for a great effort even though they’d lost again,” said the 59-year-old.

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“It was our first run-out and our build-up again was unbelievable, just with what was going on – sickness, injuries, lads not there, guys stuck in Greece. It was a mental preparation again and it was just all thrown together literally the day before, with four Melrose boys coming in to help us out.

Southern Knights' Luke Thompson was named man of the match for their 39-38 Fosroc Super Series Championship win against Fosroc Future XV at the Greenyards in Melrose on Friday (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group/SRU)Southern Knights' Luke Thompson was named man of the match for their 39-38 Fosroc Super Series Championship win against Fosroc Future XV at the Greenyards in Melrose on Friday (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group/SRU)
Southern Knights' Luke Thompson was named man of the match for their 39-38 Fosroc Super Series Championship win against Fosroc Future XV at the Greenyards in Melrose on Friday (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group/SRU)

“We got there, though, and won. We looked really good for parts of that game.

“We’d got a commanding lead and then the Futures, plus their Stirling Wolves guys, came back and it looked as if they’d won. I honestly thought they’d got us as there’d be no way back at 38-29 with five or six minutes to go, but the boys found a way to win and I’ve got to praise them for that.

“It was a win but more important was the way the boys dug deep to get that result at the end of the game.

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“I was just really happy for the guys. I could see the joy on their faces after the game and that’s what it’s all about.

Southern Knights' Rory Brand, right, holding off Fosroc Future XV's Ollie Duncan during the Borderers' 39-38 Fosroc Super Series Championship win at the Greenyards in Melrose on Friday (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group/SRU)Southern Knights' Rory Brand, right, holding off Fosroc Future XV's Ollie Duncan during the Borderers' 39-38 Fosroc Super Series Championship win at the Greenyards in Melrose on Friday (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group/SRU)
Southern Knights' Rory Brand, right, holding off Fosroc Future XV's Ollie Duncan during the Borderers' 39-38 Fosroc Super Series Championship win at the Greenyards in Melrose on Friday (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group/SRU)

“I don’t know what we’d have done if we’d got beaten again. It would have been a tough one to take losing with the last kick of the game.

“You get games you lose that way and you get ones you win that way, and this time we got the bounce of the ball.”

The Knights' last win prior to the weekend was almost ten months ago at Heriot’s by 27-20, thanks to tries by Nick Auterac, David Colvine and Aidan Cross twice, and winger Cross got back on the scoresheet against the new development side, along with Luke Thompson and Donald Crawford at the double and Garry Young, with Callum Grieve adding three conversions and a penalty.

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Head coach Scott Lawson’s Future XV side’s scorers were Amena Caqusau, Callum Smyth, Freddy Douglas, Jake Spurway, Tom Smith and Oliver Duncan with tries, four of them converted by Isaac Coates.

Harry Borthwick on the attack for Southern Knights during their 39-38 Fosroc Super Series Championship win versus Fosroc Future XV at the Greenyards in Melrose on Friday (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group/SRU)Harry Borthwick on the attack for Southern Knights during their 39-38 Fosroc Super Series Championship win versus Fosroc Future XV at the Greenyards in Melrose on Friday (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group/SRU)
Harry Borthwick on the attack for Southern Knights during their 39-38 Fosroc Super Series Championship win versus Fosroc Future XV at the Greenyards in Melrose on Friday (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group/SRU)

Knights had been planning to play a pre-season warm-up against fellow Super Series side Stirling Wolves ahead of Friday’s game but were forced to call it off due to players being unavailable for selection.

The Future XV’s visit turned out to be the next best thing, however, as former Stirling defence coach Lawson called in no fewer than ten of their players to plug gaps left by much of their potential squad being away in Kenya contesting the World Rugby U20 Trophy.

“There were ten Stirling Wolves guys involved and they used lots of Stirling’s moves and lineout calls and everything, so they were all there to do a job and they were a well-drilled unit, but we aren’t complaining. That’s just how the Futures will have to operate, I think, as they will struggle and they’ll have to get help in.”

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Next up for Knights is a trip to Edinburgh this Friday to take on Watsonians, 11-3 victors at Ayrshire Bulls on Saturday gone, with kick-off at 7.35pm.

“We’ve got Watsonians this week up there and that’ll be a really, really tough game after them going to the Bulls and getting a result like that,” said Tait.