Premiership: Heriot’s Blues revive play-off push with bonus-point win over Edinburgh Accies

Slow start leaves lacklustre hosts with too much of a mountain to climb

Edinburgh Accies came up short against Heriot's Blues at Raeburn Place. Image: John Wright
Edinburgh Accies came up short against Heriot's Blues at Raeburn Place. Image: John Wright

Edinburgh Accies 17

Heriot’s Blues 31

COLIN RENTON @ Riverside Park

HERIOT’S BLUES ensured they remain in contention for a play-off spot with a five point haul from a well-deserved win over their near neighbours. The result completes a season double for the visitors, who had also taken the honours in the reverse fixture. This time, the key was a dominant first half showing that established a lead that the out-of-sorts hosts never looked likely to overturn.  

Victorious coach Phil Smith was effusive, saying: “It was great. Our young squad gave us a mature performance based around match discipline. All parts of our game had to be disciplined and today they 100 percent did it.”

He is now eyeing a place in the knock-out phase of the competition, adding: “We are chasing fourth spot. If we can get that it would be brilliant for the boys and would be a chance for them to do something more.”


URC: Edinburgh battle to victory in bruising contest with Bulls

Glasgow Warriors face scrum-half crisis as Jamie Dobie ruled out for three months

Analysis: Scottish Rugby’s £10.5m loss – it’s worse than you think


For his Accies counterpart, Iain Berthinussen, the slow start was disappointing. “I thought our forwards really stepped up after the first 20 minutes. I think there was a lot of disconnection between forwards and backs and we just didn’t make it work. We kicked away a lot of possession and went into our shell a bit,” he said.

“I said to the boys that the reason they come down on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday is to enjoy themselves and it didn’t look to me that the boys massively enjoyed themselves. Maybe our focus for the next few weeks should be to just go out and enjoy ourselves”, he added. “In some ways, the league position is irrelevant. We’re an amateur rugby club and we want to enjoy our rugby.”

Heriot’s made the most of that uncertain start by Accies. They dominated possession in the opening stages and eventually converted that pressure into points after 10 minutes. A scrum inside the home 22 provided the platform for a multi-phase attack that ended with the ball moved wide to Luke Townsend, whose soft hands freed Paul Christie to dart in at the corner. Kenta Kutsuna banged over the conversion.

Accies shrugged off their early torpor and launched a couple of attacks from line-out mauls, but failed to find a way through a well-drilled Heriot’s defence.

Having survived that spell on the back foot, the visitors regained the initiative and a patient build-up paid off from a scrum inside the Accies 22. The ball was shipped out to Kutsuna, whose long pass to Rory Steele allowed the full back space and time to feed Cammy Meager, who plunged in at the corner.

Accies finally battled their way into the game and unlocked the Heriot’s defence after 26 minutes. Ben Appleson delivered a perfectly judged chip beyond the opposition defence and Max Wallace raced onto the ball then completed the job.

The tide flowed in Accies favour for a short period, but by half-time they had fallen further into arrears. A cleverly worked line-out allowed Ali Johston to sprint at the Accies defence. He was stopped short of the whitewash, but two phases later Niall Doherty crashed over to bag the third Heriot’s try and complete the first half scoring.

 

Accies failed to capitalise on a scoring opportunity shortly after the restart, and they paid the price on 53 minutes. Townsend booted a penalty into touch and the subsequent drive ended with Rory Jackson emerging as last man from a heap of bodies to clinch the bonus point. Kutsuna again added the extra two points.

The home side grabbed a lifeline as the game entered the final quarter. A series of pick-and-go efforts took play to within striking distance, and Patrick Ritchie picked up then crossed the whitewash for the score, with Appleson stroking over the conversion.

Heriot’s had a chance to take the lead to 15 points, but Kutsuna tugged a penalty effort just wide of the target, leaving Accies within two scores. However, the visitors ensured there was no way back when, with 10 minutes left on the clock, Christie raced away, scampering infield then releasing Keir Singleton for an untroubled run to the line. Townsend assumed the kicking duties and thumped over the conversion from wide on the right.

With the game lost, Accies set about taking something for their efforts, butHeriot’s were not in the mood to give anything away and produced a defensive effort that repelled a wave of attacks before holding up Struan Whittaker over the line.

The score eventually came in injury time when Finlay MacNeill raced down the wing for a try that prompted a frantic finale. Accies crossed the line again in the final play of the match, but were held up for the second time in the game, meaning they ended the afternoon empty handed.

 

Teams –

Edinburgh Accies: C Ramm; M Wallace, N Armstrong©, G Woods, K Gossman; B Appleson, P Ritchie; R Dunbar, F McAslan, C Crookshank, C Bain, S Whittaker, G Napier, K Slingsby, J Sole. Subs: G Hall, A Hain, T Drennan, B Grainger, F MacNeill.

Heriot’s Blues: R Steele; P Christie, A Hunter, K Kutsuna, C Meagher; L Townsend, G Wilson; A Munro, R Jackson, S Cessford, N Docherty, P Spence, M Keough, R Kirkpatrick, A Johnston©. Subs: D Westwood, J Lascelles, C Shand, K Singleton, J McNaughton.

Referee: Ciaran Stark

 

Scorers –

Edinburgh Accies: Try: Wallace, Ritchie, MacNeill; Con: Appleson.

Heriot’s Blues: Tries: Christie, Meagher, Doherty, Jackson, Singleton; Cons: Kutsuna 2, Townsend

Scoring sequence (Edinburgh Accies first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 5-12; 5-17 (h-t) 5-22; 5-24; 10-24; 12-24; 12-29; 12-31; 17-31.

 

Man-of-the-Match: Heriot’s skipper Ali Johnston led by example, defending solidly, attacking with intent, and exuding calmness when it was needed.

Talking point: Hawick, Marr and Currie Chieftains are set to bag the top three places, but it looks as if there will be an intriguing contest over the remaining weeks of the regular season for the final play-off slot.


Analysis: Scottish Rugby’s £10.5m loss – it’s worse than you think

About Colin Renton 279 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!