COLIN RENTON @ Goldenacre
TITLE-HOLDERS Heriot’s bounced back from a disappointing draw against Hawick to prevail in a hard-fought Edinburgh derby against a buoyant Broughmuir side that clocked up a half century of points seven days earlier.
The win was vital for the home side who appear to be locked in a two-way contest with Currie for the fourth play-off spot.
“We need to defend this title for as long as we can and if we had been beaten it would have been really tough”, said Heriot’s coach Phil Smith. “The first half was strong – that was a really good half of rugby and we should maybe have had more points. The second half turned into the derby you might expect.
“First half I thought we dominated the game and did what we were trying to do. We went on a bit of a rollercoaster second half.”
In the end, it was the greater composure of the Heriot’s half backs that proved to be the difference – scrum half Tom Wilson kicking astutely and Alex Hagart controlling affairs at stand off.
Callum Marshall for the hosts and Grant McConnell for the visitors had shown up in open play before Heriot’s opened the scoring in four minutes with a straightforward penalty from Alex Hagart who doubled the tally six minutes later with an even simpler effort.
Boroughmuir failed to establish a foothold in the game and they fell further behind with 14 minutes on the clock. Hagart booted a penalty into touch. A catch and drive at the ensuing lineout ended with Clarke Smith dotting down. Hagart banged over the touchline conversion.
Boroughmuir had an opportunity to claw back three points when Chris Laidlaw took aim with a long-range penalty. However, his effort fell just short of the target.
Despite trailing on the scoreboard, the visitors had the two most active players on the field with Aubrey Mncube and Jordan Edmunds catching the eye. But, although Boroughmuir ended the half strongly, a turnover just shy of the whitewash and two knock ons with subsequent attacks meant they reached the interval without having troubled the scoreboard operator.
Boroughmuir had the better of the proceedings at the start of the second period and they battled back into the game after 48 minutes when Tristan King forced his way over from close range following a quickly taken penalty.
Heriot’s responded with another bout of pressure. The Boroughmuir defence held firm until a clever pop pass from Wilson to Marshall enabled the lock to power his way through the heavy traffic to touch down.
Again the visitors struck back, this time Callum Atkinson stretching his 6 foot 10 ten inch frame over the whitewash. Chris Laidlaw’s conversion brought his side to within six points entering the final quarter of the game.
However, having clawed their way back to within striking distance, Boroughmuir suffered another blow when Marshall gathered prime ball at the tail of a lineout in the opposition 22 and offloaded to the onrushing Michael Maltman, who thundered over.
Back came the visitors and they gave themselves a glimmer of hope when the ball was worked wide to Grant McConnell, who raced in at the corner for an unconverted try.
Boroughmuir sensed that the game was there to be won and launched a final effort. However, that foundered on a knock on, adding to the frustration of coach Peter Wright, who said, “You’ve got to take your chances and you can’t afford to give away soft tries. We battled for every single point we got and they seemed to score their points with some ease. We got a point out of it but we’re disappointed.
“The first half was where we lost it -13-0 at half time. The first 20 minutes we weren’t really in the game. They dominated the breakdown. In the second half, we came out and showed a bit of character to get something out of the game.”
Heriot’s: J Semple©; C Simpson, L Steele, R Mulveena, G Parker; A Hagart, T Wilson; M Bouab, M Liness, S Cessford, C Marshall, C Smith, M Maltman, J McLean, S Dewar. Subs: S Mustard, G Cameron, M Hughes, A Ball, R Kay.
Boroughmuir: R Cairns; G McConnell, R Kerr, M Hare, J Edmunds; C Laidlaw©, B Mills; D Robertson, T King, T Gracie, J Ure, C Atkinson, A Mncube, M Walker, C Keddie. Subs: S Clark, M Henry, M Tweddle, D Steele, G Cannie
Referee – C Rudkin
Heriot’s: Tries: Smith, Marshall, Maltman; Cons: Hagart; Pens; Hagart 2.
Boroughmuir: Tries: King, Atkinson, McConnell; Con: Laidlaw
Scoring sequence: (Heriot’s first) 3-0, 6-0,11-0,13-0, (h-t), 13-5, 18-5, 18-10, 18-12, 23-12, 23-17
Man-of-the-Match: Evident in open play, a big contributor at the lineout, and a try scorer, Callum Marshall must have enhanced his chances of Scotland Club XV selection with this performance.
Talking point: Heriot’s found it tough against a very useful Boroughmuir side but showed a hard edge that is evidence of their determination to remain in the title race as the league programme reaches its business end.
Image: David Gibson http://fotosportuk.photoshelter.com/