10 talking points from round 13 of the Tennent’s Premiership

Hawick, Heriot's and Watsonians harness the tough weather conditions to grind out excellent wins

Currie Chieftains v Stirling County
Hamilton Burr and Ross Bundy of Stirling County try to get to grips with Greg Peterson of Currie Chieftains. Image: Bryan Robertson

 

  • A tough day at the office for Ayr  at Millbrae where they were blown away by a belligerently oppressive Heriots pack. They did score first with a try after four minutes – but that was it – they simply could not get into the game – and as their frustration grew, their discipline slipped. They have now lost three out of their last five league games, and were perhaps lucky to win at Stirling last week – so it has to be backs-to-the-wall stuff for them at the Greenyards next week.

 

  • Heriot’s ​upset the apple cart big style at Millbrae. Rugby in the raw – powerful and utterly focused forward play coupled with textbook management of the treacherous weather conditions by their inside backs. Their scrum was compelling throughout and hooker Michael Liness grabbed three tries from their driving maul. They defended ferociously – with a Stuart Edwards/Martin Hughes team-tackle knocking Alex Dunbar back five yards at the start of the second half. They played the game where they wanted to play it – and their decision making was excellent. They showed precisely what they are capable of achieving once they get their heads into gear. The challenge for Phil Smith now is keeping those heads in gear.

 

  • With no sign of the anaemic scrummaging that bedevilled them at Mansfield last week, Currie Chieftains stormed into a 40-point lead against Stirling County at Malleny – playing to their strengths – directly and at a high tempo. Three-try former Counties Manakau centre, Joe Reynolds, oozed class  – perfectly complimented on the day by Gregor Hunter’s immaculate hands and Ben Robbins’ blistering pace.

 

  • Very difficult conditions at Myreside where Watsonians just about deserved their win over near neighbours Boroughmuir – but it was very tight. High tempo – massive physicality – defences on top. Not one for the purist – but ‘a win is a win’ and Steve Lawrie’s men are still in the hunt for one of the play-off slots and are one step closer to having  their name engraved on the Bill McLaren Shield. An important win founded on conspicuous commitment and well organised defence – plus Lee Millar’s ultra-reliable goal kicking.

 

  • Boroughmuir have to be disappointed at not scraping even a losing bonus point out of their hard fought tussle with Watsonians – which in the final analysis went down to a very soft try and the unnecessary forfeiture of a kickable penalty. They did, however, play pretty well – Rory Drummond worked hard for his try – Jordan Edmonds again looked threatening in the centre – and their defence, apart from the one fatal blip, was resolute – but Peter Wright did feel that they had gone ‘off-script’ a couple of times under pressure. They are now probably out of the play-offs – but they will have a big say in who does get there.

 

  • Stirling County must surely have fancied their chances of hurting Currie Chieftains in the scrum – but they simply did not turn up – and were 33 points adrift by half-time. They did dig in after the break to hold it to 17-all in the second half – and they were pushing hard in injury time for the try bonus, which shows some character – but overall it was a poor effort.

 

  • It may not have been attractive – but the 10-man approach Hawick adopted against Glasgow Hawks at Balgray to counter the foul conditions was effective. Not only did it pull them away from what might apparently still be the relegation zone, it brushed a particularly ugly monkey off their back. Up until Saturday they had won just two Premiership games away from Mansfield  in the past three seasons – Marr (29-17) in January 2017 and Watsonians (36-31) in November 2015.

 

  • Tough times at Glasgow Hawks – and Fin Gillies is exhausted – but he’s not defeated – and with a raft of exciting youngsters in the squad, the situation is far from hopeless.

 

  • Derek O’Riordan thought Edinburgh Accies got ‘spooked’ in the first half against Melrose – and the scoreboard  suggests that he is maybe right – but they did play with a bit spirit after the break.  Second-row Michael Badenhorst had an interesting afternoon – picking up two tries and a yellow card – which could in many ways be seen as a metaphor for Accies season to date.

Yesterday’s Premiership match reports –

Ayr v Heriot’s: It’s pain in the rain for well-beaten hosts

Edinburgh Accies v Melrose: Champions canter to convincing win

Watsonians v Boroughmuir: Visitors pay price for defensive lapse

Currie Chieftains v Stirling County: Reynolds hat-trick the highlight of commanding home win

Glasgow Hawks v Hawick: More gloom for Gillies as McNeil leads the way for visitors

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 1288 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.