Premiership: Heriot’s Blues burst Edinburgh Accies’ bubble

Visitors pick up their second win of the season to knock Raeburn Place men off top spot in the table

Heriot's got the better of Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place. Image: John Wright
Heriot's got the better of Edinburgh Accies at Raeburn Place. Image: John Wright

Edinburgh Accies 26

Heriot’s Blues 29

IAIN MORRISON @ Raeburn Place

THIS was a cracking good derby match but quite how Accies lost it? They will be asking themselves for weeks, even months to come. Heriot’s showed great grit and determination but would not have been in contention had Accies played anywhere near their potential.

Ahead of this match, the Blues had won one match and Accies had lost one game all season, but watching this contest you’d be hard pressed to say which team was top of the Premiership and which team was (near) the bottom.

Heriot’s shrugged off a slow start, Accies were on the board after five minutes, to take the game to the opposition in all aspects, scoring three good tries in the first 40 to take a deserved 19-14 half-time advantage, and holding onto a shrinking lead in the final few minutes to sneak it by three points.


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A Graham Wilson penalty late in the second half was the difference between these two teams at the death with both sides scoring four tries and three conversions.

Accies have only themselves to blame. It was a horribly disjointed and ill-disciplined display from the home side whose insistence of doing the bare minimum to win any match was bound to bite them on the backside sooner rather than later.

“Sometimes getting an early score can make us complacent,” admitted Iain Berthinussen after the match. “But we lost six attacking line-outs in that match and you can’t afford to do that. Even in the second half when we started to tap-and-go rather than kick to touch it was too late by then.

“We could even have won it at the end but it would have been criminal if Heriot’s had lost that game.”

Berthinussen also acknowledged that Accies had coughed up a whopping 15 penalties over the course of the 80 minutes and a costly yellow card at the end of the first 40 when Heriots scored twice.

The home forwards bossed the set scrum but were less impressive in the loose where Heriots’ smaller pack gave as good as they got and sometimes better, with flanker Charlie Jupp in the van.

Jamie Sole got Accies off the mark after just five minutes with the home pack mauling Herio’ts over their own line.

Heriot’s worked their way into the match, found their feet and responded well with an opening try that was a thing of rare beauty even if it originated in a lost line-out from Accies. Dineen carried the ball into the heart of Accies’ defence and then quick hands were all that the visitors needed to send winger Craig Robertson diving over in the left hand corner.

An Accies’ clearance kick elicited a late tackle from Heriot’s and a penalty where the ball landed, just seven metres shy of the the away team’s line. Accies took the quick tap and several plays later they extended their lead to 14-7, the try going to Clem Lacour, the extras coming courtesy of full-back Vincent Hart.

Perhaps they thought the job was done but, whatever the reason, Accies took their foot off the gas and Heriot’s, who had already scored one good try, helped themselves to another two in quick succession immediately before the break.

The first went to the pocket dynamo Dineen, the second to replacement Morgan Bruce, but they were carbon copies of each other. Both came from attacking line-outs and driven mauls with several backs joining in the fun. For the first time all afternoon Heriot’s had edged into the lead and Accies had something to think about at the break.

 

Trailing by five, the home side needed the first score of the second half and they got it. Ben Appleson’s neat dink over the rushing Heriots’ defence was collected by Hart who was stopped just short of the line, then two or three phases later prop Lacour drew his side level with his second score, although Hart was wide with the conversion to leave the scores tied at 19 apiece.

Heriot’s could have taken this as their cue to fold but instead the visitors went back to the maul. Not one but two Accies penalties, dumb and dumberer as they come, gave the visitors high field position and for the third time the Heriot’s maul drove Accies back over their own line with ever increasing confidence around the 60 minute mark, with Robertson claiming his second of the match off the back of his forwards’ sweat.

Heading into the final quarter, the match lost what little structure it had boasted to that point with neither side able to hold onto the ball long enough to stress the opposition defence. Most of the action was taking place in the middle third of the field but Accies Achilles heel was always lying in wait to ambush the home side.

Almost inevitably the home side conceded yet another unforced penalty, this one in the middle of the field and well within range for Wilson, who extended Heriots’ lead to 29-20 with perhaps 15 minutes still to play.

It was a good job he did because Accies had one last hurrah. Staring defeat in the face, the home side hitched up their britches and helped by Heriot’s second yellow of the afternoon, this one going to full-back Charlie Simpson, his opposite number Hart found a huge gap, scored and converted Accies’ fourth try and there was still time for more drama.

Reduced to 14 men, Heriots had to defend for two or three agonisingly long minutes before the referee’s whistle finally allowed the visiting team to celebrate their unexpected success.

“We got some confidence from beating Musselburgh last weekend and we grew in confidence as this game went on,” said Heriots’ veteran coach Phil Smith.

“We had a pretty simple game-plan, by Heriots’ standards, but we did it really well. It’s a rolling programme for this group of players. To lose that early score was worrying, especially after we had had some possession and hadn’t done anything with it. But we got into the game and across the board I thought the boys did a great job.”

 

Teams –

Edinburgh Accies: V Hart; K Gossman, M Wallace, N Armstrong, L Wells; B Appleson, J Troup; C Imrie, C Black, C Lacour, C Bain, F Simpson, J Sole, M Walker, T Drennan. Substitutes: G Ratcliff, F McAslan, J Mills, R Cadzow, R Walsh.

Heriots Blues: C Simpson; N Henry, R Kay, O Quinn, C Robertson; D Martin, G Wilson; M Bouab, D Dineen, A Bogle, C Bell, S Johnstone, C Jupp, I Hill, D Wither. Substitutes: M Toward, A Munro, M Bruce, R Thomson, P Christie.

Referee: Calum Lazenbury

 

Scorers –

Edinburgh Accies: Troes: Sole, Lacour 2, Hart; Cons: Hart 3.

Heriots: Try: Robertson 2, Dineen, Bruce; Cons: Wilson 3; Pen: Wilson.

Sequence of scoring (Edinburgh Accies first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 12-5; 14-5; 14-10; 14-12; 14-17; 14-19 (h-t) 19-19; 19-24; 19-26; 19-29; 24-29; 26-29.

 

Yellow cards –

Edinburgh Accies: Gossman (35mins)

Heriot’s: Kay (25mins), Simpson (75mins).

 

Man-of-the-Match: Most of the heroes were sporting dark, rather than light, blue hoops although Clem Lacour’s twin tries were something to boast about. Heriot’s grew into this game as the match went on with half-backs Graham Wilson and Dom Martin doing well, but the forwards won this one. Danny Dineen was outstanding but even his efforts were overshadowed by flanker Charlie Jupp who is just three games back into rugby after nearly three years out!

Talking point: Heriot’s were banging on Accies door late in the first half and getting no change from a stuffy home defence. After umpteen penalties on their own goal line the referee finally flashed yellow at winger Kerr Gossman and that seemed to galvanise Heriot’s who promptly scored two tries in the final five minutes to take a lead they never lost.


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About Iain Morrison 130 Articles
Iain was capped 15 times for Scotland at openside flanker between his debut against Ireland during the 1993 Six Nations and his final match against New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. He was twice a Cambridge ‘Blue’ and played his entire club career with London Scottish (being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2016). Iain is a lifelong member of Linlithgow Rugby Club. After hanging up his boots, he became rugby correspondent for The Sunday Herald, before moving to The Scotland on Sunday for 16 years, and he has also guest written for various other publications.