Heriot’s Blues 53
COLIN RENTON @ Goldenacre
HERIOT’S BLUES eased to a comfortable win that keeps them on track to challenge for a top-four finish. For a large part of the match they were given a decent test by a Jed side that was still in the game after an hour, before succumbing to a late flurry of points from the Goldenacre men, who were impressive in finishing their chances.
Home coach Phil Smith was understandably pleased with the showing, saying: “Ten minutes into the second half there was still a lot of tension in the air, but we were deserving of what we got. We put some nice bits together. It’s a youthful side that are still making a few errors in a couple of areas, but playing some nice stuff.”
He is happy with the progress the side is making from the previous campaign, adding: “We ended up three or four wins from a play-off spot last year. We’ve already beaten Marr and Accies, so we are ahead of schedule, if you like, in picking up points that we didn’t get last year. This is big for us, we’re delighted to get a win against Jed, who beat us twice last year.”
In the away camp, a despondent David Grieve offered an honest assessment of a fifth successive loss, saying: “I thought the first half was fairly even. It was close at half time – we got ourselves back in it with a couple of tries. To be fair, the first 10-15 minutes of the second half we were in it, we had a lot of possession. But we just couldn’t convert chances and defensively we weren’t good enough.”
The visitors were dealt a blow with call-offs that forced a reshuffle of the centre pairing. Late withdrawals have been a feature of the early weeks of the campaign and are making a difficult job even tougher at a club with limited resources. However, Grieve acknowledged that the men filling the 12 and 13 jerseys acquitted themselves well in a game that started disastrously.
With only two minutes gone, Trent Storen raced through and profited from an overlap which left Angus Hunter in space and with a free run to the corner to open the scoring for Heriot’s.
Impressive stand-off Kenta Kutsuna was instrumental in creating the opening try, and he was involved again shortly afterwards with a darting run that took him into the Jed 22 before he offloaded to Cammy Meager, who crossed the whitewash to take the points tally into double figures.
Jed were stung into action and bagged a score on their first attack of note. A penalty despatched into touch created the platform for a powerful drive that ended with Harry Meadows dotting down. Gary Munro landed the conversion to leave the deficit at three points.
Heriot’s had another spell in the ascendancy, but the closest they came to extending the lead was when Ali Johnston was held up over the line.
Jed, with Munro pulling the strings, took the direct approach and that paid off in 23 minutes when a series of attacks ended with the ball moved wide to Owen Cranston, who looked to have been halted just short of the line but showed great determination to complete the job and hand the Borderers the lead.
The hosts responded with a relentless assault on the Jed defence, and eventually found a way through thanks to Innes Hill, who battered his way over from close range, leaving Kutsuna a simple conversion.
The Jed response came in the form of a successful Munro penalty, but the end-to-end action continued with another counter-attack that saw Kutsuna’s slick handling send John McNaughton sprinting in at the corner for the bonus point score, with the try’s creator banging over the touchline conversion to leave the home side with a 24-15 lead at the break.
The visitors made a lively start to the second period and Heriot’s scrum half Chris Yuill had to be sharp to pip Lewis Walker as the Jed winger chased his own kick. The momentum was with the visitors, but the Heriot’s defence dealt calmly with all that came their way.
And they showed the clinical edge that was missing from the Jed armoury when Kutsuna raced into the opposition half before the ball was swept out to McNaughton who bagged his second try of the afternoon.
The scorer then took a 10-minute break after being yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on. In his absence, Jed again applied sustained pressure without adding points. They paid the price for that when Storen plucked a pass out of the air and raced clear for an interception try, converted by Kutsuna, that ensured a home win.
With the win guaranteed, Heriot’s opened up in the closing stages and added gloss to the score line. Meager raced in for a fine solo score and Finn Carden contributed a long-range try, converted by Kutsuna, before Hunter topped and tailed the list of Heriot’s scorers with his second of the afternoon, bringing up the half century.
There was time for one final defiant gesture by Jed, when Clark Skeldon barged over from close range. It rescued some pride but did not prevent his side from heading home empty handed.
Heriot’s Blues: A Hunter; J McNaughton, P Christie, T Storen, C Meager; K Kutsuna, C Yuill; A Munro, D Hood, A Bogle, N Docherty, M Keough, R Kirkpatrick, I Hill, A Johnston©. Subs: R Jackson, J Lascelles, P Spence, K Singleton, F Carden.
Jed-Forest: M Glen; L Walker, O Cranston, B Roff, R Shirra-Gibb; G Munro, A Bambrick; P Ferreira, J Ferguson, H Meadows, C Skeldon©, B Howe, D Wardrop, E Lauder, B Fotheringham. Subs: M Weekley, J Story, K Grieve, J Howe, L Elder.
Referee: Sam O’Neill
Heriot’s Blues: Tries: Hunter 2, Meager 2, Hill, McNaughton 2, Storen, Carden; Cons: Kutsuna 4.
Jed-Forest: Tries: Meadows, Cranston, Skeldon; Con: Munro; Pen: Munro.
Scoring sequence (Heriot’s Blues first): 5-0; 10-0; 10-5; 10-7; 10-12; 15-12; 17-12; 17-15; 22-15; 24-15 (h-t) 29-15; 34-15; 36-15; 41-15; 46-15; 48-15; 53-15; 53-20.
Yellow cards –
Heriot’s Blues: McNaughton
Man-of-the-Match: There was an intriguing battle of the stand-offs, with Kenta Kutsuna and Gary Munro showing their full range of skills. In the end, the Japanese bundle of energy gets the nod for his all-round sharpness and defensive skills.
Talking point: On this showing, Heriot’s have the potential to achieve their goal of bagging a play-off spot. The immediate task for Jed is to avoid becoming detached at the foot of the table and hope that they can discover the winning habit.