PHIL SMITH said he was “raging” after watching his Heriot’s team drop vital points in the play-off race with a defeat away to Premiership strugglers Hawick. That 24-23 score-line at leaves the Edinburgh side joint third in the table with Ayr, just four points ahead of fifth placed Watsonians – who they happen to face next weekend.
The victory sees Hawick climb off the foot of the table for the first time since September and extends their promising run of form to three bonus point wins in the last three games.
“It took us 40 minutes to get started, which was the most frustrating 40 minutes of rugby I’ve witnessed in a long, long time,” said Smith. “We just did everything we weren’t meant to do, and that gave Hawick a foot-hold in the match and an opportunity to pile pressure on us, which they did.”
“So, we were losing 17-3 at half-time but nobody thought we were out the game, and sure enough we got back into it and controlled the second half for 38 minutes, but after we went 17-23 up we conceded an apparent knock-on and they got the scrum, and from that they got a penalty, took the line-out, got another scrum on our line, and eventually Darcy Graham darted in to win it for them.”
“We didn’t even switch off, it was a catalogue of errors resulting in Hawick taking their chance. Fair play to them.”
“I’m absolutely raging because the reality is you shouldn’t be beating a team by 63 points a few months ago and then coming down here to be in a dog fight. I expect better from the players and they’ve been told that in no uncertain terms,” he continued.
“And that is nothing against Hawick – George Graham has got them going well, and they will now be competitive against any team in this league – but for 40 minutes we didn’t do anything right, and that’s unacceptable.”
It certainly didn’t help Heriots’ cause that they played over 70 minutes with 14 men, after Iain Wilson was yellow-carded straight from the kick-off for a clumsy collision in the air, and then Michael Maltman was red-carded at around the 20-minute mark for throwing a punch.
“I’m not going to focus on that because we were actually getting a lot of reward out of what we were doing when we were doing the right things, but we didn’t play for 80 minutes – and that’s my big frustration,” said Smith.
“We’ve actually gone quite well in the last five or six games, and then this – so it is a kick in the teeth. I don’t think it is the end of the world, we’ve got Watsonians, Boroughmuir and Ayr still to play this month, so that is a run of three difficult fixtures, but if we do the right thing in those games we should hopefully put ourselves in a position to finish top four.”
Hawick raced into a 10-0 lead through tries for Shawn Muir and Gary Munro. Ross Jones struck back for Heriot’s with a penalty, but a Bruce McNeil try converted by Lee Armstrong gave the home team a 14-point advantage at the break.
Another Jones penalty at the start of the second half and tries from Martin Hughes and Rory Carmichael, both converted by Stuart Edwards, edged Heriot’s into the lead – but Graham’s try and Armstrong’s conversion from in front of the posts meant that Hawick had the last laugh.