Heriot’s Blues 12
IAIN MORRISON @ Goldenacre
IN perfect conditions, Hawick made rather heavy weather of winning the points that guarantee them home advantage in the play-offs. After scoring a very easy, early try the visitors took their foot off the gas, allowed Heriot’s to lead for much of the first 40 and only really woke up in the second half, presumably with some words of wisdom from coach Matty Douglas ringing in their ears, when they scored two more tries to add to that early touchdown.
“The first half was quite stuffy,B ut we got a reaction in the second half and we have booked a home semi-final,” said the Hawick coach after the game. “
What exactly did he say at half time? “I can’t repeat exactly what I said,” was the reply. “But I thought that Heriot’s played well which we expected because they are in a fight for survival with Musselburgh winning today. We haven’t won here in 10 years so it was always going to be a battle.
This weekend’s other Premiership match reports:
Premiership: Musselburgh beat Jed-Forest to take survival fight to the wire
Premiership: Marr’s destiny in their own hands after win over Glasgow Hawks
Premiership: Currie Chieftains win leaves GHA staring down a barrel
Premiership: Edinburgh Accies secure play-off spot with win over ill-disciplined Selkirk
“We needed a reaction, we needed a bit of hunger in defense and we got that. They didn’t score a point in the second half.”
Heriot’s were stuffy in defence and dangerous in attack, certainly for the first half of this game, but they started to come apart at the seams after the break. Well beaten in the set-scrum from start to finish, lock Charlie Jupp ensured a plentiful supply of line-out possession in the opening half, but Hawick, somewhat belatedly, realised he was the go-to-guy and started to compete against him in the second half which gave Heriot’s even less possession.
The breakaway trio of Sam Wallace, Innes Hill and Ali Johnson punched above their weight and Heriot’s were tactically smart, throwing the ball wide at every opportunity and dragging the Hawick defenders into the front line before poking the ball behind the green defence. It worked, to an extent, but the tactic was less effective in the second half if only because Heriot’s saw far less of the ball.
Once they got their noses ahead on the scoreboard, for the second time, everything seemed to fall into place for the visitors. The forwards made good ground with the ball in hand, especially the livewire hooker Fraser Renwick, and much of the second half was played deep inside the Heriots’ half of the field.
Kyle Brunton kept trying things and, if they hadn’t quite come off for the flyhalf in the first half, passes began to stick in the second.
The game started with a bang and anyone who was late to the party missed the opening try which went to the visitors after just three minutes of action. If the timing was impressive, Hawick also scored short handed as prop Nikki Little collapsed on the halfway line with an audible groan that suggests his season may be over.
Undaunted, Hawick rolled up their sleeves and moved the ball. Fly-half Brunton chipped ahead and centre Ethan Reilly took full advantage of a friendly bounce to collect the ball. When it was moved to the right, winger Lewis Ferguson was entirely unmarked and went in for the score in the corner for Kirk Ford to expertly convert.
If it all seemed a little too easy that’s because it was. Heriot’s were stung by the score, and perhaps Hawick relaxed a little. The net result was two well taken tries for the home team.
The first went to leggy winger Ross McKnight although it was made by fellow flyer Craig Roberton. The left wing popped up in the midfield and although he ran across the field he did attract the attention of enough green defenders to create space for McKnight in the wide channel.
The next try was the sort of score that drives coaches to drink. Ford tackled Heriots’ scrummy Graham Wilson late and from the ensuing attacking line-out Heriots’ big men did well to march Hawick backwards before the diminutive flanker Wallace broke off and darted over the try-line without anyone laying a finger on him.
They didn’t know it at the time but Wilson’s conversion of Wallace’s score was to prove Heriots’ final points of the afternoon.
That score was perhaps 15 minutes before the break and Hawick, staring at a 12-7 deficit, tightened things up, driving scrums and milking penalties at every scrum that they could. The result was six points via two penalties to Hawick before the break, both to Ford, one of which was made 10 metres easier by Heriots’ backchat.
The second was made b Renwick who ran 50 metres and looked at one stage as if he might go all the way to the line. He was eventually hauled down but Heriot’s fullback Charlie Simpson was carded at the breakdown and Ford’s second penalty gave Hawick a narrow 13-12 lead.
The second half started as the first one had, with a try to Hawick winger Ferguson, undoubtedly helped by the fact that Heriot’s were missing their last line of defence. Ford converted expertly from the touch-line and in a matter of minutes Hawick had stretched into a commanding 20-12 advantage that they never really looked like losing despite the fact that Ford missed another penalty … this one from directly in front of the sticks.
The score remained the same despite plenty of pressure from the greens all the way to the 70th minute of the match., Having been denied a push-over try, Hawick kicked a penalty to the corner and two plays later lock Shaun Fairbairn blast his way over the Heriot’s line from short range. Ford made no mistake with his shot at goal this time.
There was still time for a little more controversy. A loose pass by Heriot’s was pounced upon by the Hawick backs who looked like they might go the length only to be called back for a deliberate knock-on. Ford was carded as a result but the second yellow of the match made no difference to the scoreline.
“We are disappointed because we obviously need points,” said Heriots Phil Smith. “They are top of the league and unbeaten so it wasn’t going to be a matter of us wanting it more than them.
“We are in the relegation area, they are better than us, but we were in this game for most of the first half. The scrum was obviously an issue and after the break the line-out started to malfunction too. So we didn’t have much possession.”
Heriots Blues: C Simpson; R McKnight, R Kay, G Morison, C Robertson; D Marton, G Wilson; M Bouab, M Toward, J Lascelles, C Jupp, M Keough, S Wallace, I Hill, A Johnston. Replacements: D Dineen, A Munro, A Woolfson, I Kay, P Christie.
Hawick: K Ford; L Ferguson, A Mitchell, E Reilly, R McKean; K Brunton, H Patterson; S Muir, F Renwick, N Little, C Sutherland, S Fairbairn, R Graham, C Renwick, S Graham. Replacements: M Carryer, R Macleod, H Donaldson, G Welsh, G Huggan.
Referee: Ross Mabon.
Heriots Blues: Try: Ferguson 2, Fairbairn; Cons: Ford 3; Pen: Ford 2
Hawick: Try: McKnight, Wallace; Con: Wilson.
Sequence of scoring (Heriot’s first): 0-5; 0-7; 5-7; 10-7; 12-7l 12-10; 12-13 (h-t) 12-18; 12-20; 12-25; 12-27.
Yellow cards –
Heriot’s: Simpson (37 mins)
Hawick: Ford (77 mins)
Man-of-the-Match: Heriot’s lock Charlie Jupp kept his side in this match with his line-out possession and his carrying throughout a competitive first half. Kirk Ford kicked almost everything bar the second easiest one of the afternoon and hooker Fraser Renwick was lively throughout, but Lewis Ferguson gets the award for his two tries and general excellence.
Talking point: Late in the game the utterly dominant Hawick scrum was heading towards the Heriot’s try line with two apparent outcomes available …a try or a penalty try to Hawick … only for the referee to come up with a third. Much to everyone’s surprise the referee awarded a penalty to Heriot’s because Hawick’s pack was not pushing straight.
Premiership: Musselburgh beat Jed-Forest to take survival fight to the wire
Strange choice of MoM for me, although he took his catch and place tries well. I was impressed by the all-round game of Hawick No6, R. Graham? His ball carriers, offloads, tackles, and general nuisance at the breakdown got better as the game wore on, in tandem with Hawick’s growing dominance.
CRUMBS is Class .
A right pest .
As is his brother BISCUIT .
Hard as nails .
Great servants for Hawick over the years .
The whole team have been stellar this season
Hawick went off the boil in the 1st half, and Graham Wilson must have been in nightmare mode with his constant box kicks. If he had backed his backs and pack more might have been a different outcome at half time. But credit to Hawick for there second half performance. Only one outcome.