GAVIN HARPER @ Beveridge Park
HERIOT’S booked their place in the last eight of the BT Cup with a six-try win over a stubborn Kirkcaldy at Beveridge Park. Phil Smith’s side scored four tries in a clinical first-half performance, while adding two more after the break to secure safe passage into the quarter-final draw.
A bumper crowd turned out to support the National League Division 2 side, but it took Heriot’s less than five minutes to open the scoring. A clever move saw John Rae almost break through, and quick ball allowed Charlie Simpson to put Michael Maltman over in the corner. John Semple missed the conversion from out wide.
Smith’s side scored a second try inside the opening quarter after a dominant scrum won possession, and Tom Wilson’s grubber allowed Simpson to dive over. Semple made amends for his earlier miss to give Heriot’s a 12-point lead inside 20 minutes.
Pouring rain and a spell of snow meant neither side took control of the ball, with mistakes aplenty, but Heriot’s were clinical with their opportunities.
The Goldenacre men scored a third try through scrum-half Wilson just shy of the half hour. His increasingly dominant pack won another scrum against the head five meres out, and the impressive number nine swooped on the ball to score. Semple again converted.
There was something for the Beveridge Park faithful to cheer before the break, though, as a loose pass by visiting captain Rory Carmichael was hacked on by Blues winger Owen Bonner. He controlled superbly, and was awarded the try by referee John Shaw. Craig Letham added the conversion, and the gap was cut to 7-19.
Heriot’s re-asserted their dominance shortly after, though, as a powerful maul surged over from about 15 metres out, with hooker Ali Johnstone the scorer. Semple converted on the stroke of half-time, allowing the visitors to take a 7-26 lead into the break.
Kirkcaldy changed from their customary blue strips to their red away jerseys for the second half, such had been the deluge at Beveridge Park.
The home side started the second half strongly, with their pack keeping the ball for long spells inside the Heriot’s half. They finally got their reward on 56 minutes, when lock Conner Wood barged his way over from close range. Letham again converted, which reduced the gap to 14-26.
There were errors aplenty from both sides in the second half, but Smith’s side secured victory when flanker Martin Hughes was driven over from a line-out with 15 minutes to go.
Their sixth was almost a carbon-copy of how it all began, with replacement Martin Scade the beneficiary of a well-worked move to dive over. Semple missed both conversions, but it was a routine win for the Capital side.
Kirkcaldy: F Smith, F Bruce, K Littlejohn, M Wallace, O Bonner, C Letham, G McKenzie (c); D Jennings, Jack Pow, M Henderson, M Harper, C Wood, R Bonner, R Brown, James Pow. Subs: G Queen, S McLean, S Mitchell, J Moffat
Heriot’s: C Simpson, J Rae, R Mulveena, J Semple, R Kay, R Carmichael (c), T Wilson; M Bouab, A Johnstone, S Cessford, R Nimmo, C Smith, M Maltman, M Hughes, S Dewar. Subs: S Mustard, G Blair, C Marshall, A Hagart, M Scade
Referee: J Shaw
Kirkcaldy: Tries: O Bonner, C Wood; Cons: Letham 2.
Heriot’s: Tries: M Maltman, C Simpson, T Wilson, A Johnstone, M Hughes, M Scade; Cons: Semple 3.
Scoring sequence (Kirkcaldy first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-12; 0-17; 0-19; 5-19; 7-19; 7-24; 7-26 (h-t) 12-26; 14-26; 14-31; 14-36.
Man-of-the-Match: Struan Dewar was industrious in the Heriot’s back-row, and provided a superb link between the forwards and backs. He also made an excellent break early in the first half, only to spoil it with a wayward pass. Notable mentions for Kirkcaldy back-row James Pow and Heriot’s centre John Semple.
Talking Point: On a miserable day in Fife, Heriot’s laid down a marker of their pack’s potential as they outmuscled the hosts. A 30 metre rolling maul and four scrums against the head evidence enough of the visitors’ power up front.
Image courtesy: Michael Booth