Premiership: Heriot’s Blues climb to fifth with clinical win over wasteful Selkirk

Borderers pay heavy price for failure to capitalise on opportunities in the first half

Heriot's Blues finished their league league season with a convincing win over Selkirk. Image: Grant Kinghorn
Heriot's Blues finished their league league season with a convincing win over Selkirk. Image: Grant Kinghorn

Heriot’s Blues 33

Selkirk 10

COLIN RENTON @ Goldenacre

HERIOT’S BLUES clinched fifth spot in the Premiership table with a comfortable win in their rearranged fixture against Selkirk. The scoreline does not tell the full story of a match in which the visitors spent lengthy spells in the home 22, particularly in the first half, but lacked the edge to capitalise on the many opportunities that came their way. There may have been little at stake, but neither side took the game lightly, and both sets of players deserve credit for an entertaining affair.  

“We are up to fifth and last year we were eighth, so we have improved,” said Heriot’s coach, Phil Smith. “There is a sense of disappointment that we didn’t finish fourth, so we’ll accept that and focus on the Cup.”

And insisting that his men were fully committed, he added: “We were determined to get a bonus point win. We had a couple of massive defensive sets that showed we were in the game rather than just accepting that it is what it is. And we scored some nice tries, so I’m happy with that. That was with a number of players missing and hopefully they will be back by the cup, which is now a massive focus, and hopefully we can have a crack at it.”


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His Selkirk counterpart, Gordon Henderson, also had plenty of reasons to be optimistic as his players turn their attention to the Border League.

“On another day, the amount of possession and territory we had, we would have won”, he said. “I was heartened with the effort and the application, but the accuracy and decision making let us down at times.

“When we kicked the ball away we gave them too much space and Heriot’s have good players who are going to hurt you when you do that – they didn’t have to work terribly hard for their scores.”

Selkirk dominated possession and territory in the opening phase of the game but posed no real threat to the home try line. And, with eight minutes on the clock, the visitors paid the price for failing to convert that pressure. A penalty to touch allowed Heriot’s to visit opposition territory for the first time. A drive from the ensuing line-out was thwarted and Graham Wilson fed Luke Townsend whose cross-field kick found Cammy Meager, who gathered and dotted down. Wilson banged over the touchline conversion.

The Borderers responded with another spell in the ascendancy and Bruce Riddell thought he had bagged a score when he plunged over from close range, but the referee deemed that he had been held up. Scott McClymont and Andrew McColm were prominent as Selkirk stretched the home defence once more but allowed the hosts off the hook after offending at a close-range scrum.

Having soaked up that renewed onslaught by Selkirk, the home side struck again on the break. Harry Hitchens sprinted clear and exchanged passes with Paul Christie before freeing Wilson who dotted down then added the extras.

A third try came just after half an hour when the referee reversed a decision inside the Selkirk 22 for dissent. Heriot’s opted for the scrum and the ball was moved out to Townsend who sent Meager in for his second try, with Wilson again converting to complete the first half scoring.

 

 

Heriot’s secured the bonus point within a couple of minutes of the restart when Jason Hill was hauled down just shy of the whitewash, but Hitchens was on hand to complete the job. With Wilson having left the fray at half time, Townsend took on the kicking duties and added the extra points.

Selkirk responded with another visit to the home 22. An increasingly desperate home defence conceded a series of penalties that ended with Hill despatched to the sin bin, but still the away side failed translate pressure into points. They finally put that right in 55 minutes when Blake Cullen ran an impressive line to carve his way through for an unconverted try.

That breakthrough breathed new life into the Selkirk effort and they had another spell on top. It yielded a second score when a series of close-range attacks ended with Josh Welsh forcing his way over, while the referee was playing advantage for an offence that saw Struan Cessford yellow carded, just as Hill was preparing to return.

Both sides rang the changes and there was a lull in the scoring until the final 10 minutes, with Heriot’s claiming a fifth try when the ball was slung along the line to Hitchens who capped a fine all round performance with his second touchdown of the afternoon.

 

Teams –

Heriot’s Blues: A Hunter; P Christie, R Jones, K Kutsuna, C Meager; L Townsend, G Wilson; A Munro, F Thomas, S Cessford, J Hill, M Keough, C Shand, I Hill, R Kirkpatrick©. Subs: R Jackson, B Dineen, T Dunn, R Thomson, H Hitchens.

Selkirk: C Anderson; F Wheelans, J Welsh, A Grant-Suttie, B Cullen; C Easson, Aaron McColm; L Pettie, J Bett, B Riddell, Andrew McColm, A Cochrane, L Cassidy, S McClymont©, K Westlake. Subs: S Clark, R McFadzen, C Turnbull, R Murray, C McNeil.

Referee: John Smith

 

Scorers –

Heriot’s: Tries:  Meager 2, Wilson, Hitchens 2; Cons: Wilson 4.

Selkirk: Tries: Cullen, Welsh.

Scoring sequence (Heriot’s first): 5-0; 7-0; 12-0; 14-0; 19-0; 21-0 (h-t) 26-0; 28-0; 28-5; 28-10; 33-10.

 

Yellow cards –

Heriot’s Blues: J Hill, Cessford.

 

Man-of-the-Match: Callum Anderson, Andrew McColm and Scott McClymont grafted for the visitors, while Paul Christie and Kenta Kutsuna caught the eye for the hosts, but the man who gets the nod for an impressive show of pace and a two-try contribution is Harry Hitchens.

Talking point: It may have been a dead-rubber in terms of what was at stake, but there was plenty of skill on show in a competitive contest between two sides keen to run the ball. Heriot’s showed enough to suggest that they could make an impression in the Cup if they can sustain the intensity for 80 minutes.


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About Colin Renton 288 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!