Southern Knights claimed the ‘Doddie’s Club Trophy’ in Melrose on Friday night, defeating holders Newcastle Falcons.
In a match helping to raise funds for Doddie Weir’s motor neurone disease charity, the home side built a 10-7 half-time lead and pushed on after the interval to lift the trophy.
Newcastle began the game with plenty of energy but trailed after six minutes, when winger Freddie Owsley exploited an overlap to score an unconverted try in the left corner.
The hosts doubled their lead on 16 minutes when a long, looping pass out to the left enabled centre Vilikesa Wara to ride a tackle and score in the corner – Knights again firing wide with the conversion attempt.
The Falcons’ attempts to get into the game saw enterprising carrying from back-row trio Josh Basham, Connor Collett and Gary Graham as they enjoyed a spell of pressure in the Knights’ 22, but it came to nought as the home side ended the attack with a jackal penalty.
They had better luck just before the half-hour when winger Iwan Stephens conjured a score from nothing, taking slow ball 30 metres out before chipping over the defensive line and stepping the full-back to score between the posts.
Will Haydon-Wood added the conversion to cut the deficit to three – Newcastle going close on 35 minutes when Ollie Lindsay-Hague was fractionally second-best in his pursuit of a hack-through into the in-goal.
Southern Knights’ 10-7 lead remained in tact at half-time as a Connor Collett turnover near his own try-line thwarted a foray down the left, and they extended their advantage to 10 points within five minutes of the resumption.
Adam McBurney was the man to inflict the damage, the replacement hooker breaking away from the back of a close-range maul after his side had kicked a penalty to the left corner.
Charlie Savala found his range with the touchline conversion, and even when the Falcons produced a 50-22 kick from replacement Louie Johnson, the home side stole the resulting line-out.
Hooker Robbie Smith and replacement lock Matty Dalton were among the many willing runners as the visitors looked to up the tempo going into the closing quarter, and they found their second try of the night just before the hour mark.
Iwan Stephens was again the man to score it, the winger racing into the left corner after Will Montgomery drew the last man – Newcastle having caught a high ball around halfway before running it back with interest.
The missed conversion attempt left the Falcons trailing by five, but the Knights gave themselves a two-score lead when Jason Baggott hammered over a 40-metre penalty with plenty to spare.
Newcastle tried to respond by kicking a penalty to the left corner only to knock on at the base of the resulting maul, and the game was sealed for Southern Knights when Baggott sent over his second penalty from 40 metres out two minutes from time.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait (captain), 14 Ollie Lindsay-Hague, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Max Wright, 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Will Haydon-Wood, 9 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti; 1 Logovi'i Mulipola, 2 Robbie Smith, 3 Mark Tampin, 4 Will Montgomery, 5 George Merrick, 6 Josh Basham, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Gary Graham.
Replacements: Charlie Smith, Mark Dormer, Kyle Cooper, Phil Brantingham, Freddie Lockwood, Matthew Dalton, James Blackett, Louie Johnson, Zach Kerr, Chidera Obonna.
Scorers – Tries: Iwan Stephens 2. Conversions: Will Haydon-Wood.
Southern Knights: 15 Jack Blain, 14 Iain Sim, 13 Vilikesa Wara, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Freddie Owsley, 10 Charlie Savala, 9 Henry Pyrgos; 1 Shaun Gunn, 2 Russell Anderson (captain), 3 Dan Gamble, 4 Pierce Phillips, 5 Angus Runciman, 6 Harry Borthwick, 7 Connor Boyle, 8 Ben Muncaster.
Replacements: Adam McBurney, Sam Grahamslaw, Euan McLaren, Jamie Campbell, Ruaridh Knott, Adam Ferrie, Cameron Jones, Jason Baggott, Nyle Godsmark, Matt Currie, Patrick Anderson, Cameron Scott.
Scorers – Tries: Freddie Owsley, Vilikesa Wara, Adam McBurney. Conversions: Charlie Savala. Penalties: Jason Baggott 2.