COLIN RENTON @ Meggetland
HERIOT’S confirmed their play-off credentials with a five point haul in a game in which the scoreline only tells a fraction of the tale – the scoring sequence offers a more accurate insight into how the hosts dominated the first half then surrendered in the second as the visitors addressed defensive frailties and raised the pace in attack.
The Goldenacre side’s coach, Phil Smith, admitted that he was concerned at the interval, yet confident that his men would turn things around.
“You’re panicking because you are 24-3 down, obviously, but I did feel there was plenty of stuff to go to. Some of it was actually good in the first half but we defended poorly. So, we tightened up defensively, got to grips with what they were doing and we got field position,” he said.
“There has been a feeling over the last few weeks that we have played within ourselves and we don’t feel that we have played expressively. All week I said to them to play with a bit more ambition. It just means that you put teams under more pressure.
“Everybody thinks our go to is the set-piece. It’s not really – we are not really bigger than other teams. We are good at the set-piece but we are also good at playing, We have an exciting back division, and today we saw some of that – Ross Jones, Rory McMichael, Jack Blain and Rob Kay were all good.”
By contrast, Boroughmuir coach Peter Wright was furious at the lack of game management his men had shown, particularly those whose experience should be evident in such encounters.
“That’s not a good way to lose, but we were our own worst enemies. We didn’t manage the game at all in the second half. That gave Heriot’s a bit of impetus and they took the opportunity to score four tries. We have nobody to blame but ourselves,” he fumed, with his anger fuelled by the fact that the first half performance had been so dominant.
“That’s the best half we’ve played for probably two or three seasons. I thought we were really good – our go-forward was good, we were just attacking everything, then in the second half, we just didn’t manage the game.
“Over the 80 minutes we didn’t deserve anything out of the game. You can’t play like we did in the first half then play as abjectly in the second half. The plan at half-time was to manage the game, don’t play too much rugby in our own half. But we kept trying to throw the ball around.
“Fair dues to Heriot’s – they had a lot of injuries and they came back to win the game. They are a quality side.”
Tennent’s Premiership match reports:
The hosts were quickly into their stride and opened the scoring in three minutes with a penalty from Robin Weersma. Heriot’s were struggling to cope with the direct running of home centres Greg Cannie and Will Wardlaw, plus the destructive influence of number eight Rory Drummond who was returning from injury.
A multi-phase effort ended with Callum Atkinson crashing over for a try which Weersma converted to take the tally into double figures.
The tide continued to flow towards the Heriot’s line and Cannie was collared on the edge of the 22 but managed to feed Wardlaw, who returned the compliment to free Cannie for a try that Weersma converted.
The Heriot’s cause wasn’t helped by the loss of both second-rows to injury – and scrum-half Andrew Simmers would follow before half time. But they offered a glimpse in attack when Kay sliced through. However, he was held and the Goldenacre men’s attack proved too lateral and they resorted to the boot of Jones to open their account with a penalty.
The Boroughmuir riposte was instant, and again it came through the middle with Cannie making the initial dent before releasing Wardlaw for a score that Weersma converted to hand the home side a 24-3 interval lead.
Heriot’s were transformed after the restart and launched their fightback within a couple of minutes when the ball was moved to Blain who dotted down, leaving Jones a straightforward kick for the extra two points.
A simple tactic of keeping ball in hand allowed the visitors to maintain the pressure and an assault that featured several phases ended with Michael Liness plunging over from close range. Jones again added the extras leaving the deficit at seven points with half an hour to play.
The momentum was now as firmly with Heriot’s as it had been with the home side in the first half. A string of penalties five metres from the line ended with Daryl Marfo being yellow carded a couple of minutes after entering the fray. The score was inevitable and it came after another series of unsuccessful pick-and-go efforts when Dougie Steele picked up the pieces and dived over to score against his former colleagues. Jones converted to square matters.
With Heriot’s now firmly in the driving seat, it had become a question of how long it would take the visitors to move into the lead.
The answer was seven minutes. Another penalty, another scrum and Heriot’s skipper Iain Wilson dived over for the score which Jones again converted.
Boroughmuir belatedly managed to break out from defensive duties and earned a penalty that was despatched into touch. However, a Heriot’s steal at the lineout ensured it was the visitors who were celebrating.
Boroughmuir: G Parker;R Arthur, W Wardlaw, G Cannie, J Edmunds; R Weersma, J Hamilton; R Dunbar, R Montgomery, D Robertson, S Smith, C Atkinson, J Steele, T Drennan, R Drummond. Subs: W Inglis, D Marfo, L Robinson, M Johnstone, C Gossman.
Heriot’s: D Steele; R McMichael, R Jones, R Kay, J Blain; D Martin, A Simmers; J Scott, M Liness, S Cessford, R Leishman, C Marshall, M Hughes, J McLean, I Wilson©. Subs: A Johnstone, A McMillan, C Bell, C Robertson, C Simpson.
Referee: Pierre-Baptiste Nuchy (France)
Boroughmuir: Tries: Atkinson, Cannie, Wardlaw; Cons: Weersma 3; Pen: Weersma.
Heriot’s: Tries: Blain, Liness, Steele, Wilson; Cons: Jones 4; Pen; Jones.
Scoring sequence: (Boroughmuir first): 3-0, 8-0, 10-0, 15-0, 17-0, 17-3, 22-3, 24-3 (h-t) 24-8, 24-10, 24-15, 24-17, 24-22, 24-24, 24-29, 24-31
Yellow cards –
Man-of-the-Match: For calm leadership when the outlook was gloomy, Iain Wilson takes it – the try that cinched the bonus point and the victory adding gloss to the accolade.
Talking point: Heriot’s offered evidence of their character with a win that few would have predicted at half time.