COLIN RENTON @ Goldenacre
TWO LATE scores gave the scoreline a lopsided look that disguises just how hard Heriot’s had to work to secure the five point haul that keeps them in the race for a top two finish and a home play-off. It took an impressive second half effort by the hosts to overcome a side that had nothing but pride at stake but contributed to an entertaining contest.
The outcome was dictated by some smart substitutions at half time that brought greater impetus to the home team and ultimately means that the make-up of the play-off matches will be decided on the final day of the regular season.
Heriot’s coach Phil Smith was happy with the way his men stepped up in the second period and also tipped his hat to the club’s 2nd XV who won the reserve league title on the neighbouring pitch. He also gave credit to Boroughmuir for their contribution to the contest.
“Fair play to Peter (Wright) and Boroughmuir, they didn’t come and play like a team with nothing to play for,” he said. “They made the league real which is great.
“After we scored early I thought it might leave them wondering if they wanted to be here and give us a lift. But really it did the opposite. We looked nervy, we didn’t do what we said we were going to do, we played tight – it was just rubbish. Then we got a bit of the speed in the game second half. We got a bit of energy and a bit of oomph and suddenly we could play. We played well eventually. The last try probably wasn’t deserved but it was nice.”
Wright was left bemoaning a repeat demonstration of recent weaknesses, describing at as ‘groundhog day’.
“They upped the ante in the second half to be fair to them<” he said. “If you are missing a penalty in front of the posts, overthrowing line-outs when you are five metres from the line and making basic errors, you don’t deserve to win games.
“I thought we played well in the first half and got a reaction after they scored. And for the rest of the half I thought we pretty much dominated. They made some changes that made a big difference. They came out a gear quicker and we just didn’t react. The changes we made didn’t impact on the game the way we wanted them to.”
The tone appeared to have been set when the hosts won a close range line-out and edged closer to the line with a series of rumbles before Alex Ball switched play out, where Rob Kay was on hand to take a scoring pass and leave Ross Jones a straightforward conversion.
However, Boroughmuir responded in kind with a penalty despatched into touch followed by a series of pick-and-go efforts before Jordan Edmunds muscled his way over. Gavin Parker added the extras to square matters.
The visitors looked to build on that and a neat offload by Matt Walker freed Aubrey MnCube, who was the stand-out performer for the visitors. He was hauled down by Jones but earned a penalty. However, Parker spurned the kick at goal in favour of the line-out, and while the Heriot’s defence was stretched it held firm.
Boroughmuir were well on top at this stage and they grabbed the lead in spectacular fashion after 27 minutes. Kerr Gossman gathered a clearance kick inside his own half and took off, darting infield and eluding two tacklers, before shrugging off another and crashing through a frantic last ditch effort to bag a try, which Parker converted.
The hosts replied with an attack that ended when Martin Bouab’s powerful run was halted by a crunching tackle by Craig Keddie. The prop fell awkwardly and the referee ordered the teams to the changing rooms while Bouab received attention before leaving the field on a stretcher with a broken leg that has ended his season.
Bouab was replaced by Josh Scott and Heriot’s made four more changes at half-time. The fresh legs brought an immediate increase in intensity and a series of attacks ended with a score on 48 minutes when Iain Wilson applied the final touch after a powerful surge by the home pack. Jones was on target with the conversion to restore parity.
And it got even better for the hosts in 55 minutes. Charlie Simpson almost managed to wriggle in at the corner and when he was collared the recycled ball was shipped inside to Michael Liness, who powered in between the sticks for a try converted by Jones.
Back came Boroughmuir and Parker squandered three points when he posted a rare miss with what looked like a simple penalty. Further penalties came in quick succession but failed to produce points. The referee warned Heriot’s about the mounting penalty count and Wilson was yellow-carded for the next offence.
Craig Gossman joined the Heriot’s skipper in the sin-bin after taking out Andrew Simmers, and Simmers had the last laugh three minutes from full-time when he picked out John Rae with a beautifully weighted pass that allowed the winger to squeeze in at the corner.
Jones hammered over the conversion then took his personal haul to 15 points and – more importantly in the race for The Offside Line’s Golden Boot award – he landed his fifth conversion when he intercepted on halfway and scampered clear then added the extras.
Heriot’s: C Simpson; J Rae, R Jones, R Kay, S King; S Edwards, A Ball; M Bouab, M Liness, S Cessford, R Leishman, C Marshall, I Wilson©, J McLean, S Dewar. Subs: A Johnstone, J Scott, A Sinclair, J Hill, A Simmers.
Boroughmuir: C Gossman; K Gossman, G Parker, G Cannie, J Edmunds; C Laidlaw, T Wilson; R Dunbar, J Matthews©, T Gracie, W Inglis, S Smith, A Mncube, M Walker, C Keddie. Subs: C McDevitt, R Montgomery, T Drennan, M Johnstone, R Arthur.
Referee: R O’Sullivan (IRFU)
Heriot’s: Tries: Kay, Wilson, Liness, Rae, Jones; Cons: Jones 5
Boroughmuir: Tries: Edmunds, K Gossman; Cons: Parker 2
Scoring sequence (Heriot’s first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-7; 7-12; 7-14 (h-t) 12-14; 14-14; 19-14; 21-14; 26-14; 28-14; 33-14; 35-14.
Yellow cards –
Boroughmuir: C Gossman
Man-of-the-match: Home centre Ross Jones has earned the reputation as reliable kicker, but he showed that there is more to his game than a powerful boot with he and his centre partner Robert Kay weighing in with a high tackle count during the periods when the Heriot’s defence was under pressure, and to top it off he bagged a solo score in the dying seconds.
Talking point: There is still a lot of rugby to play before the play-offs are confirmed but another Chieftains versus Heriot’s clash is a strong possibility and that is always an engrossing match up.