Heriot’s Blues 33
ALAN LORIMER @ Mansfield Park
IN the wake of Storm Bebet, there was a torrent of tries at Mansfield Park, eleven in total, six of which were scored by Hawick and five by Heriot’s Blues in a match that provided the satisfaction of victory for the home crowd and for the Goldenacre men a massive confidence boost.
Heriot’s coach, Phil Smith, pleased with his side’s haul of tries, thinks his charges may have had a change of mindset about their ability to complete at this level after their encounter with last season’s Premiership champions.
“We’re a young team” Smith pointed out, adding: “We’ve won a few games at the lower end of the Premiership but we still wondered if we’re really there. Today should have suggested to the boys that they are far more competitive than they realise.”
What was impressive about Heriot’s performance at Mansfield Park was their ability and confidence to hit back after trailing 38-14 midway through the second half. That they succeeded in going on to score a further three tries showed their ability to move the ball well and to use the genuine talent of winger Paul Christie.
Heriot’s comeback was, however, aided by some poor kicking from hand by Hawick, who will surely reappraise their approach to the game in their post match analysis. “We probably tired in the last 20 minutes” admitted Hawick’s coach, Matty Douglas, with a refreshing candour.
“Heriot’s took their opportunities. But I’m really happy we beat the team who were in third place. We probably got our game management wrong in the last 15 minutes but that’s something we can work on. I was really happy with some of the individual performances. I thought Jae Linton was again outstanding, Charlie Welsh worked hard and our two wingers got tries.
“We gave young Owain Gray a chance to show what we was all about and I don’t think he looked out of place at this level,” added Douglas.
Heriot’s gave notice of their intention to take the game to Hawick by dominating the opening three minutes of the match with excellent ball retention that earned them a try by Christie from a clever grubber kick by Luke Townsend.
Kenta Kutsuna added the extras but Heriot’s were soon reined in as Hawick gradually took control, first with a long range penalty by Kirk Ford and then a try by Connor Sutherland off a line-out move and the conversion by Ford.
Then, when Linton scored off a five metre scrum, and Ford converted, Hawick were two scores clear, with the gap magnified when Ford finished off a backline move from set-piece possession to touch down and then convert for a 24-7 interval lead.
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As they had done at the beginning of the first half, Heriot’s monopolised possession for Kutsuna to zip through a gap before adding the conversion.
Hawick quickly quelled any notion of Heriot’s taking control with a very good score made by Ford from his perfectly weighted chip ahead that allowed Gray to touch down in the corner. From the touchline, Ford continued his unfailing kicking skills off the tee.
The home side’s determination to keep Heriot’s at bay was further emphasised when Andrew Mitchell scored under the posts after a spell of slick handling by the Greens, leaving Ford with a simple conversion kick.
At 38-14 that should have been Heriot’s heading for the morgue. But to their huge credit the Goldenacre side hit back with a try by Peter Burns after another aimless kick from Hawick and an unfortunate tap-back.
Katsuna added the extra points and did so for a second try by Christie, the wing taking advantage of Hawick’s failure to control the bouncing ball
But when Mitchell intercepted and Morgan Tait was on his shoulder to take the scoring pass for a try under the posts, converted by Ford, Hawick had seen off another Heriot’s resurgence.
Heriot’s had the satisfaction of having the final word with a try from a driven line-out by replacement Danny Dineen to complete a high scoring game but one in which his side amassed less points than their opponents.
Hawick: K Ford; M Tait, C Welsh, A Mitchell, O Gray; K Brunton, G Welsh; S Muir©, R Anderson, N Little, F Wilson, C Sutherland, S Graham, C Renwick, J Linton. Subs: F Renwick, T Hope, D Redpath, S Goodfellow, A Weir.
Heriot’s Blues: P Burns; P Christie, B Kay©, F Stanier A Hunter; L Townsend, K Kutsuna; J Lascelles, R Jackson, A Bogle, M Keough, R Kirkpatrick, M Dillon, I Hill, A Johnston. Subs: D Dineen, B Dineen, W Brown, G Wilson, R Fraser.
Referee: Finlay Brown
Hawick: Tries: Sutherland, Linton, Ford , Gray, Mitchell, Tait; Cons: Ford 6; Pen: Ford.
Heriot’s: Tries Christie 2, Kutsuna, Burns, D Dineen; Cons: Kutsuna 4.
Scoring Sequence (Hawick first): 0-5, 0-7, 3-7, 8-7, 10-7, 15-7, 17-7, 22-7, 24-7 (ht) 24-12-, 24-14, 29-14, 31-14, 36-14, 38-14, 38-19, 38-21, 38-26, 38-28, 43-28, 45-28, 45-33.
Man-of-the-Match: There were a number of good performances from players of both sides. Jae Linton was again outstanding, looking as though he’s playing at too low a level, Shawn Muir was a constant power-house and on the Heriot’s side Paul Christie’s pace and footwork caused problems for the Greens. But the player who steadied the ship for Hawick was Kirk Ford who kicked seven from seven off the tee and who looked the Greens’ most creative force behind the scrum.
Talking point: Heriots’ young side need no longer fear playing against the better sides in the league. What will be interesting is how they kick on from a very good performance against Hawick. As for the Greens, they are winning and for the most part that’s what matters.