STUART RUTHERFORD @ Goldenacre
DEFENDING champions Heriots finally got their season underway after a scintillating display gave them a deserved victory . With both teams coming into this encounter looking for their first win of the season, you would be excused for expecting a nervy, low scoring affair. This simply wasn’t the case in a match where both sides showed ambition in attack in what was a great advertisement for Scottish club rugby.
There is no doubt Heriot’s stepped onto the pitch with a point to prove after last week’s heart-breaking loss to Ayr and head coach Phil Smith was clearly ecstatic with how his team bounced back.
“I don’t feel like we were under pressure after the last couple of weeks but there is no doubt we had to show what we were capable of. After a poor performance in week one and a nearly performance in week two, its great to get the win today,” he said.
Win they most certainly did. However, for the first 15 minutes it seemed as though Hawick were going to frustrate the hosts with their rough-and-ready brand of rugby. The borders outfit had long spells of possession and at times had Heriot’s pinned back in their own 22. This dominance wasn’t to last however and after 18 minutes Heriot’s got the first points of the day. After a darting break, scrum-half Andrew Simmers had the intelligence to chip through for Josh Laird to collect and touch down.
The visitors immediately recovered with Neil Renwick nailing a tricky penalty, however Alex Hagart responded with a penalty of his own to leave the game well balanced at 8-3.
This was to be the closest Hawick got to the Edinburgh side and with 15 minutes to go before halftime the floodgates well and truly opened. After a lineout on the visitors’ five meter line, Heriots quickly recycled and the ball was whipped to Hagart. The stand-off shimmied inside before simply popping to Laird, who crashed over for his second of the day. Hagart tapped over the simple conversion to make it 15-3. It only got worse for the visitors five minutes later when fellow Jordan Webster touched down in the corner, following a sweeping backline move.
Hawick were unable to cope with the increasing Heriot’s pressure and fell further behind after John Coutts deliberately knocked on; the inside centre was sent to the bin and the hosts were awarded a penalty try which widened the gap further to 27-3.
On the stroke of half-time, Phil Smith’s side scored the try of the match. After retaining possession Hagart received the ball on the halfway line and hit an exquisite cross field kick that looked to be sailing into touch. However, Heriot’s back-row Struan Dewar did excellently to palm the ball down to the impressive Callum Marshall, the second-row cut back inside before laying it to Simmers, who ghosted under the posts. Hagart chipped it over to make it 34-3 at the break.
Hawick rang the changes, bringing on Callum MacIntosh, Ross Gibson and Neil McColm to try and steady the sinking ship. In what was a fairly pedestrian second half the highlight was a near try by Edinburgh pro George Turner.
The hooker received the ball ten meters from his own try line before taking off on an explosive run that took him the length of the pitch before he was tackled only yards out. Turner’s pace was like that of a winger and his effort deserved a try.
Further scores from Rory Carmichael, Callum Marshall and a third for Laird wrapped it up for the hosts. Hooker Fraser Renwick managed a consolation score for the borders side but in truth the contest was over at halftime. Heriots canter to their first win of the season and leave Nikki Walker’s Hawick side rooted to the bottom of the table.
Heriots: G Parker; J Webster, J Semple, R Carmichael (c), J Laird; A Hagart, A Simmers; M Bouab, G Turner, S Cessford; C Marshall, C Smith, S Dewar, J McLean, C Du Preez. Subs: M Liness, M McCallum, E Jackson, L Steele, A McLean.
Hawick: N Renwick; D Graham, J Coutts, G Johnstone, W Hamilton; L Armstrong, B Campbell; J Cosgrove, F Renwick, M Landels, D Harlen, R Hogg, B McNeil (c), A Horne, K Davies. Subs: C MacIntosh, J Cosgrove, R Gibson, G Cottrel, G Huggan, N McColm.
Heriots: Tries: J Laird 3, J Webster, Penalty try, A Simmers, R Carmichael, C Marshall; Cons: Hagart 4, Simmers; Pens: Hagart 1.
Hawick: Tries: F Renwick Cons: N Renwick Pens: N Renwick.
Referee: Graeme Wells
Man-of-the-Match: Skipper Rory Carmichael didn’t put a foot wrong all day. Led from the front in his return to the starting XV and capped off his performance with a try.
Talking point: Hawick’s set piece was disastrous throughout the contest. It’s hard enough to win at Goldenacre, never-mind when you can’t win your own scrums and lineouts.