Super Series: Heriot’s see off Southern Knights to stay in the play-off hunt

Goldenacre club expect they will need big win over the Bulls next weekend to reach play-off

Heriot's Knights
Sam Pecquer of Heriot's is tackled by Angus McGregor of Southern Knights. Image: Malcolm Mackenzie.

Heriot’s 31

Southern Knights 17

ALAN LORIMER @ Goldenacre

HERIOT’S put themselves in a position to challenge for the Super Series Sprint title after running in five tries to defeat a Southern Knights side that if on the wrong side of the scoreline at least had the satisfaction of winning the second half.

The Goldenacre men will be at home to Ayrshire Bulls next Saturday, but know that they will face a much stiffer test. “We’ve still got a chance in the Sprint, but we’d need to get a five-pointer next week and deny Ayr any points,” observed Ben Cairns, Heriot’s head coach.

On the performance against Southern Knights, Cairns was reasonably satisfied with the way his charges delivered an important win, “It was job done.” he said. “We were happy with the start we made. It’s always quite hard when you’re quite far ahead at half-time to maintain it in the second half.


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“We made quite a lot of changes in the second half. We’ve got a lot of good backs so we try to throw the ball around a lot. But that requires good forwards to win ball.”

Heriot’s dominance in the first half when they scored four of their five tries was characterised by accurate and wide passing that used the width of the field to stretch their opponents’ defence. Impressive for the side was inside centre Angus Hunter, who showed real incision and who blended well with the more experienced Matt Davidson. The Goldenacre men also made their tight tackling count in the opening phases of the game, ensuring that there was little chance of the Knights breaking out.

For Southern Knights, it was another difficult match for a team that simply lacks the resources of the top dogs in the Super Series. Nevertheless, their coach, Scott Wight, was clearly pleased with his side’s performance in the second half when they outscored Heriot’s by 2-1 tries.

Wight put the second-half revival down to the the quality and experience of the subs. “The bench made a huge difference in the second half,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of experience there. We wanted to give some of the younger boys a crack in the starting team – boys like young Angus McGregor. He deserves a start.

“The second half was a reflection of where we could be. If we got a performance like that every week it would be a lot easier. But as it was it was just a lack of consistency. If we can take that second-half showing into being an 80-minute performance then I’m sure we’ll be closer to Stirling Wolves next Friday,” suggested Wight.

Heriot’s wasted little time in putting their stamp on the game by penning the Knights in their own 22m area straight from the kick-off. Then after a dart out of defence by Dan King, the Edinburgh side moved the ball to Jack Blain, whose precise out-the-back pass gave Angus Hunter a canter to the line for the opening score.

The Goldenacre men did their best to re-enact the formula but this time the Knights not only survived but were able to apply pressure in the Heriot’s 22, but all to no avail, and that merely encouraged another bout of Heriot’s ball-in-hand rugby. When this approach reaped no points the home side took advantage of their heavier pack to score try No 2 through replacement Michael Liness from a driven line-out for a 10-0 lead.

Fortunately for the game, Southern Knights were able to interrupt the Heriot’s flow of points with aggressive rugby in their opponents’ 22 that ended with Callum Grieve delivering an accurate kick pass for Ethan McVicar to scuttle in at the corner for an unconverted try.

The Knights were quickly put back in their box when, after Euan McLaren was stopped just short of the line, the ball was whipped through four pairs of hand leaving Wallace Nelson with enough room to put Blain in for his side’s third try, this time converted by Richman.

That score proved to be a practice run for a similarly created try, from accurate handling that sent Lewis Wells on course to the line, only for the wing to be stopped by a juddering tackle. When the ball was recycled,. scrum-half  Seamus Smith judged his moment perfectly to skip round two defenders for the bonus-point try, Richman again adding the extras to give Heriot’s a 24-5 half time advantage.

 

 

Just after the break, man-of-the-match Smith again showed his spatial awareness by scorching through a gap to run in unopposed for his second try of the match, the kick in front of the posts presenting Richman with a simple two-point addition, the stand-off’s final contribution before being replaced.

If it had been something of a discouraging scoreline for Southern Knights, then the Greenyards outfit at least had the last words in the matter of points acquisition with first a try from a quickly taken tap=penalty by replacement scrum-half Patrick Ritchie – bringing  the visitors into double-figure territory – and then, from the final play,  a try by replacement hooker Marcus Brogan after replacement wing Rollie Brett had cut open the Heriot’s defence with an arcing run.

But not even this late flurry of points by Knights could take the gloss off what was a handsome win by Heriot’s and one that will lift confidence ahead of their crucial meeting at Goldenacre next weekend with Ayrshire Bulls.

 

Teams –

Heriot’s: D King (C Townsend 57); L Wells, M Davidson, A Hunter, J Blain (S Pequeur 60); L Richman (F Wood 60), S Smith (E McAra 60); J Scott (C Keen 33), D Hood (M Liness 15) , E McLaren (L Porter 65), R Seydak (C Anderson 65), P Spence, C Jupp, W Nelson, R Leishman.

Southern Knights: R Chalmers; E McVicker, E Greenlaw, A Hall (R Brett 55), J Civil (M Glen 67); C Grieve, C Davidson (P Ritchie 58); A McGregor (J Dobie 55) , F Scott (M Brogan 75), Z Szwagrzak (C Crookshank 55) , A Runciman, D Cockburn (M Badenhorst 55), A Ferrie, Y Fantini, G Young (M Rhodes 52)

Referee: Ruairidh Campbell.

 

Scorers –

Heriot’s: Tries: Hunter, Liness, Blain, Smith (2).  Cons: Richman (3).

Southern Knights: Tries: McVicar, Ritchie, Brogan. Con: Grieve.

Scoring Sequence (Heriot’s first): 5-0; 10-0; 10-5; 15-5; 17-5; 22-5; 24-5 (h-t) 29-5; 31-5; 31-10; 31-15; 31-17.

Yellow card –

Heriot’s: P Spence (76 mins)

 

Man-of-the-Match: Heriot’s were hugely helped by the swift and accurate service of scrum-half Seamus Smith, who also showed his eye to the line and an ability to assess any frail point in defence by scoring two very good tries.

Talking point: Heriot’s at their best are wonderful to watch, such is their ability to play a wide handling game, and today they were able to demonstrate their trademark style. Given that the bulk of their squad will be representing the Goldenacre club in the Premiership, the top tier of the amateur game in Scotland looks set to be a high quality competition.


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About Alan Lorimer 360 Articles
Scotland rugby correspondent for The Times for six years and subsequently contributed to Sunday Times, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Scotsman, Herald, Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald and Reuters. Worked in Radio for BBC. Alan is Scottish rugby journalism's leading voice when it comes to youth and schools rugby.