COLIN RENTON @ Goldenacre
HERIOT’S stepped up their defence of the BT Premiership title with a clinical performance against a misfiring Watsonians side that will be desperate to consign the afternoon to the ‘bad day at the office’ category and move on.
The Goldenacre club had worked hard to secure sponsorship for the match from Investec, and had lined up a lunch, an exhibition from the Elite Pro dance group and a veterans match. There was the added incentive of avenging a defeat in the reverse fixture on the opening day of the season. And they certainly entertained the bumper crowd with a ten-try exhibition that confirmed the early season rebuilding project is now complete.
“We have slowly worked towards getting this group together, doing the right thing”, said a delighted Heriot’s coach Phil Smith. “The first half was almost a complete performance apart from the try at the end.
“The league is set up so that you go week to week at the boiling point and if you do that you will be in with a shout,” added Smith, whose exuberance was contrasted by the despondent mood in the away camp.
“We just couldn’t find a way to nip their momentum,” admitted a disappointed Watsonians assistant coach Simon Taylor. “We were on a high last week and the fear with any Scottish team in any sport is having a high is quickly followed by a big low. And that is pretty much what happened today”.
The game opened at a lively pace and the visitors had come closest in the opening five minutes before the title holders made the breakthrough. A kick ahead by Junior Rasolea was chased up by Harry Boisseau. He was halted but the recycled ball went through the hands of Callum Marshall and Alex Hagart to John Rae who touched down in the corner.
Heriot’s doubled their tally five minutes later when Charlie Simpson initiated a break from deep and featured again in the move, coming up just short of the whitewash. However, Rae was again on hand to pick up the pieces and dot down.
Watsonians were already on the rack and head coach Marcus Di Rollo’s afternoon took another turn for the worse when he was sent to the stand for comments made within earshot of the assistant referee.
The momentum was firmly in the home side’s favour and try number three came in 16 minutes when a penalty was despatched into touch and Russell Nimmo claimed the ball at the ensuing lineout then charged over for another unconverted score.
The bonus point try, which came after only 25 minutes, was a replica by Nimmo of the third, albeit on the other side of the Goldenacre pitch. Hagart again failed to add the extras, his kick this time rattling back off the post.
Heriot’s were playing some sublime rugby and it was only a matter of time before they added to their tally. The score came before the half hour mark when a trio of forwards displayed slick handling skills to ship the ball along the line to Boisseau, and the winger completed the job. This time Hagart banged over the conversion from wide on the left.
And the pain kept coming for Watsonians whose weakness at the lineout was again exposed when Andrew Simmers took a tap down and fed Michael Maltman, who powered over for a sixth Heriot’s touchdown. Hagart again added the extras.
Having been pummelled throughout the half, the visitors ended it with a flourish and earned some consolation when Scott McLeod drew the final defender and freed Angus Duckett for the run to the line, leaving the visitors 34-5 in arrears at the break.
It seemed a tall order to expect a Watsonians fight back but a four try bonus was a realistic objective.
However, it was the hosts who were next on the score-sheet when Rasolea broke from deep and fed Charlie Simpson on half way. And the full back accelerated between two defenders who allowed him the space to dart in for a fine solo score.
Watsonians clawed back five points when Craig Borthwick forced his way over after a mazy run by Keith Young had come up just short.
Heriot’s struck back with a quick-fire double – the first coming when Nimmo executed his lineout trick for a third time and the next when Rasolea intercepted inside his own half and cantered over – Ewan Fox adding the extras to bring up the half century.
Rasolea also contributed try number ten when he took an inside pass following a searing break by Gavin Parker and raced in unopposed. Fox again slotted the kick.
With three minutes left to play, Nathan Borel forced his way over for a third Watsonians score, raising the prospect of a four try bonus. However, it was not to be and they quickly shift their focus to a match at home to Hawick.
Heriots: C Simpson; J Rae, S Rasolea, J Semple ©, H Boisseau; A Hagart, A Simmers; M Bouab, G Turner, R Mitchell, C Marshall, R Nimmo, M Maltman, J McLean, S Dewar. Subs: M Liness, G Cameron, C Smith, E Fox, G Parker.
Watsonians: K Young; S McLeod, D Innes, T Hart, R Steele; A Chalmers, R Cullen; M Christie ©, S Crombie, C Eastwood, M Poole, C Borthwick, K Beattie, A Duckett, E Dods. Subs: D Miller, N Borel, T Lapeyre, E McKirdy, A Harris.
Referee: F Murphy (IRFU)
Heriots: Tries: Rae 2, Nimmo 3, Boisseau, Maltman, Simpson, Rasolea 2; Cons: Hagart 2, Fox 2.
Watsonians: Tries: Duckett, Borthwick, Borel
Scoring sequence: 5-0, 10-0, 15-0,20-0, 25-0, 27-0, 32-0, 34-0, 34-5 (h-t) 39-5, 39-10, 44-10, 49-10, 51-10, 56-10, 58-10, 58-15
Man-of-the-Match: A tough choice when so many Heriot’s players shone, but Russell Nimmo gets the nod after bagging three tries and showing up well in open play, including a couple of neat offloads.
Talking Point: The Heriot’s committee worked hard to make the day a success and were rewarded with a big crowd. Anyone attending their first BT Premiership game will surely have been impressed by the quality of the product.
Image courtesy: Roy Smith