COLIN RENTON @ Meggetland
Defending champions Heriot’s took the spoils in the Meggetland sunshine against their city rivals in an Edinburgh derby that featured two sides intent on playing an open game. That ambition led to a high error count but ensured periods of exciting rugby and an entertaining spectacle for a sizeable crowd.
It was a second successive victory for the Goldenacre side whose shaky start to the campaign now appears to be firmly in the past.
“I was expecting more” said Heriot’s coach Phil Smith. “When I saw how the first half went, I thought there was more in the game for us.”
However, Smith is happy with the progress over the past fortnight and is now happy that his side is back on track after a shaky start. “We now have a couple of wins back to back and that should be a big confidence booster.”
His Boroughmuir counterpart Peter Wright was disappointed that his men had failed to perform to the potential he knows they possess. “We were poor. Heriot’s dominated the breakdown and we couldn’t cope with that”, said the former international prop. “We didn’t deserve to win and we didn’t deserve a bonus point. Heriot’s should maybe have beaten us by more points.”
For Wright’s men it was another painful derby loss and the hosts paid the price for a misfiring lineout and a pack that was ultimately bullied by a bigger opposition eight, particularly at the breakdown.
Heriot’s opened the scoring in four minutes when Alex Hagart was on target with a penalty after the hosts failed to roll away. However, Boroughmuir squared matters four minutes later when Dougie Steele kicked a three pointer from the edge of the 22 following a powerful run by Grant McConnell.
The game had opened at a frantic pace, and neither side managed to assume control. The visitors passed up a scoring opportunity when Hagart booted a 25 metre penalty into touch. The ensuing lineout came to nothing but the points addition was only delayed by a couple of minutes. The home defence managed to hold out two assaults on the line but at the third time of asking Murray McCallum drove over. Hagart’s successful conversion took the Heriot’s tally into double figures.
Steele cut the deficit when he slotted his second penalty of the afternoon in 23 minutes but the visitors responded in kind when Hagart thumped over a long-range effort as the clock ticked up to the half hour mark.
Heriot’s ended the half in the ascendancy and the final play of that first period yielded a penalty in front of the posts which Hagart clipped over, while home prop Dale Robertson was banished to the sin-bin for ten minutes for the offence.
Despite operating a man short, the hosts restarted well and Steele clawed back three points in 47 minutes.
However, Heriot’s were soon back on the attack and Andrew Simmers was shunted into touch inches short of the line. The momentum was now firmly with the title holders and a powerful dive from a close range lineout was thwarted just short of the whitewash.
The same move on the hour mark proved successful. The hosts were forced back towards their line and the referee adjudged that the Heriot’s surge had been stopped illegally and awarded a penalty try which Hagart converted to hand the visitors a 14 lead entering the final quarter.
However, as they had done seven days earlier against Watsonians, the hosts raised the pace in the closing stages. A break by Alex Cox almost unlocked the Heriot’s defence as Boroughmuir chased the game, but the move foundered on a knock-on. McConnell was next to have a go, but he was pipped in the race to the line as he chased his own kick ahead.
The pressure eventually paid off when Dougie Steele sprinted towards the Heriot’s line but was brought down ten metres short. As he fell, he offloaded to Jamie Scott who fended off a tackle to dot down and leave Steele with a conversion that secured a narrow defeat bonus point.
Boroughmuir: D Steele; G McConnell, R Kerr, M Hare, J Edmunds; D Reekie, S Johnson; R Dunbar, J Bett, D Robertson, J Ure, M Tweddle, C Keddie, D Hearn, A Mncube. Subs: S Clark, D Winning, J Scott, R Bradford, A Cox.
Heriots: G Parker; A McLean, L Steele, J Semple, J Laird; A Hagart, A Simmers; M McCallum, M Liness, S Cessford, R Nimmo, C Smith, G Turner, J McLean, S Dewar. Subs: R Mitchell, M Bouab, E Jackson, D Crawford, J Webster.
Boroughmuir: Try: Scott, Con: Steele, Pens: Steele (3)
Heriot’s: Tries: McCallum, Penalty, Cons: Hagart (2) Pens: Hagart (3)
Referee: Neil Muir
Man-of-the-Match: Alex Hagart delivered a composed performance at stand off for the visitors and displayed impressive handling skills as well as making a flawless contribution with the boot.
Talking point: A good crowd, admittedly helped by the weather and the fact that it was a local derby, but could the tide be turning for club rugby?
Scoring sequence: (Boroughmuir first) 0-3, 3-3, 3-8, 3-10, 6-10, 6-13, 6-16 (h-t) 9-16,9-21,9-23, 16-23
Image by Dave Patterson