COLIN RENTON @ Goldenacre

HERIOT’S posted a success on two fronts as they emerged with a victory that hands them the initiative in the race for fourth place in the BT Premiership table, and in the process became only the second team to have their name engraved on the Bill McLaren Shield.

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Of that latter achievement, Heriot’s coach Phil Smith said: “It’s something I’ve tried hard not to mention all week, because it is something we haven’t done. We have had a lot of success in our history and over the last couple of years, it’s been great but this group of players need to write their own history and that’s a start, the fact that they have their name on the shield.”

He is now determined to retain the prestigious silverware for as long as possible, adding: “It should be built up because it is a fantastic thing. It’s a little bit of pressure but the opportunity to put your name on something is a thing that you want. I think our performance fully deserved it.”

Of his side’s showing in seeing off a Currie team that refused to buckle and could justifiably feel aggrieved at taking nothing form the game, he stated: “That was a real game of rugby. The commitment from both teams in all facets of the game was great. We were shocking at Malleny first time round – they played very well – but today we were determined to make sure none pf that happened again. I thought we were back to some good old fashioned Heriot’s rugby – strong possession, lots of width, lots of asking questions.”

Currie started the day in fourth spot and with a two point advantage over the title holders and the visitors edged ahead with a penalty by Jamie Forbes in four minutes. Heriot’s squared matters when Alex Hagart was on target with a three pointer, and the champions took the lead in 18 minutes with a try from Struan Cessford who took the recycled ball and barged over after Murray McCallum had been halted just short of the line.

Hagart tugged the conversion left of the target but was on the mark a few minutes later with his second penalty of the afternoon.  The hosts were enjoying a spell in the ascendancy and extended their lead when Andrew Simmers scampered over after a multi-phase move that unlocked the Currie defence. Hagart added the extra two points.

Currie finished the half strongly and by the interval had clawed their way back into the match. A penalty despatched into touch created the platform for a powerful drive that ended with Ross Weston dotting down. Forbes steered the conversion between the sticks to send his side in at the break eight points adrift.

The half-time break probably arrived at the wrong time for the visitors and it was important for them to score the first points of the second period. Crucially, they failed to do so. Instead, six minutes after the restart, the hosts claimed their third try when a powerful drive shunted the Currie pack backwards and the ensuing surge inched towards the opposition line, where Rory Carmichael applied the final touch. Hagart added the extras, via the post.

One thing Currie are not short of is heart, and they responded to that blow with a sustained spell of pressure. A solid defensive effort by Heriot’s repelled a series of attacks until the 64th minute when the visitors drove towards the whitewash. The maul was pulled down illegally, earning a penalty try, which Forbes converted – and resulting in a yellow card for Cessford.

The momentum was now firmly with Currie, who created numerous chances in a tense final 15 minutes, but failed to convert the opportunities into points, much to the annoyance of Currie coach Ben Cairns.

“It’s really frustrating. I thought our attitude was spot on, the way we kept on playing”, he said. “Saying all of that, we were in a position with 20 minutes to go, we’ve got the momentum, we’ve got a chance to get back in that game and make it a real fight to the end, but we shoot ourselves in the foot with, I reckon, nine individual errors. It was just really silly, poor decision making.”

Cairns is now relying on help from other sides, but knows that a league that has been engrossing from day one, could yet have several further twists over the run in.

“It looks like it will be between us and Heriot’s for that fourth place. There’s three games left. All we can do is make sure we win all three and hope they slip up”, he said.


Teams –

Heriot’s: J Semple; C Simpson, J Rosalea, R Carmichael©, G Parker; A Hagart, A Simmers; M McCallum, M Liness, S Cessford, R Nimmo, M Hughes, M Maltman, J McLean, C Marshall. Subs: S Mustard, M Bouab, C Smith, T Wilson, L Steele.

Currie: H Elms; R Tagive, R Nelson, C Hutchison, B Robbins; J Forbes, C Shiel; J Cox, F Scott, G Carson, H Bain, M Vernel, L Crosbie, S Ainslie, R Weston©. Subs: A McWilliam, R Patterson, S McGinley, R Smith, R Snedden.

Scorers – 

Heriot’s: Tries: Cessford, Simmers, Carmichael Conversions, Hagart 2;  Pens: Hagart 2.

Currie: Tries, Weston, Penalty Try; Cons, Forbes 2; Pen: Forbes.

Yellow Card –

Heriot’s: Cessford

Scoring sequence:(Heriot’s first): 0-3, 3-3, 8-3, 11-3, 16-3, 18-3, 18-8, 18-10 (h-t) 23-10, 25-10, 25-15, 25-17

Man-of-the-Match: Active in the loose and a powerhouse in the scrum, Murray McCallum capped an outstanding all-round performance with several crunching tackles including a bone-juddering effort on Ratu Tagive.

Talking point: Heriot’s become only the second team to have their name engraved on the Bill McLaren Shield – who would have thought securing four successive home wins would be such a tall order?

Image courtesy: Heriot’s Twitter feed

About Colin Renton 294 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!