COLIN RENTON @ Myreside
HERIOT’S moved to the summit of the FOSROC Super Series table with a bonus-point victory built on a scintillating first-half effort that blew away the hosts. The Goldenacre men had the bonus point and a seemingly unassailable lead in the bag at half-time, and they were equally dominant in the second half to record an impressive victory.
Little wonder that Heriot’s coach Ben Cairns was beaming at full-time. “We said before the game that we wanted to go out and enjoy the performance. We haven’t really felt like that even though we’ve had a couple of wins. That was the key message but I definitely didn’t expect it to translate into that. But that’s what we’re capable of”, he said.
Cairns insisted that the defensive effort was as pleasing as the massive points haul although he added, “There’s still things we’ll pick holes in. We didn’t start the game well but the boys worked extremely hard for each other. If we keep those standards all year, we’ll be in a decent place.”
It was a second successive defeat for Watsonians – a rarity for the Myreside outfit, and one that will exercise their coach Nikki Walker over the coming week.
“It’s a tough one,” he said. “We started really poorly. We talked all week about having a big start and it was Heriot’s that got a big start. A lot of their good play came from us compounding errors with errors and bad discipline, and the game just got away from us. Because of that we probably started to chase the scoreboard in the wrong areas of the field. Heriot’s capitalised on it and were clinical.
Walker did see some grounds for positivity. “There were some individuals that performed pretty well and worked really hard,” he added. “But when you’ve not got everybody doing that from 1-15 and you’ve got some errors from key individuals it makes it look a lot worse than it was.”
Such an outcome had seemed a distant prospect as the hosts edged into opposition territory courtesy of two penalties kicked into touch in the opening minutes. However, they surrendered those gains when Matt Davidson charged down a clearance kick and booted the ball clear. Freddie Owsley cleared up, but the breakout allowed Heriot’s to build some momentum.
And it paid off in nine minutes when a penalty to touch created the platform for an attack that began with Bruce Houston hoisting a cross kick that caused confusion in the Watsonians defence and ended with the alert Fin Campbell pouncing on the loose ball to score. Houston was on target with the conversion.
The intensity of the contest edged up a couple of notches as the visitors sought to build on that breakthrough. Houston spurned a kick at goal with an 18th-minute penalty award, and that decision was rewarded when, five phases after the lineout win, Houston freed Davidson to dart over. Grant Hughes temporarily took over the tee to add the extras.
Heriot’s had their tails up and within four minutes they had added a third try. The ball was swept at pace through several pairs of hands and Sam Wallace continued his rich vein of scoring form when he sprinted over in the corner. Houston resumed kicking duties to bang over the conversion.
And the Heriot’s stand-off confirmed that he had recovered from the earlier knock when he hammered over a 40-metre penalty to add three more points to the tally.
Watsonians had been powerless but they built some momentum. That included two penalties in the shadow of the Heriot’s posts, which the hosts chose to scrum. However, those awards came to nothing after the visitors struck against the head and again capitalised.
This time Hughes took possession and sprinted into the opposition 22 before offloading to Wallace, who scampered over for a second time. Houston struck the kick sweetly to add two more points then recorded his first miss when, with the clock in the red, he watched as an ambitious penalty attempt rattled off the post.
Watsonians had to score first after the restart and things looked promising, but a turnover at the first ruck showed that there would be no upturn in fortunes and Heriot’s plundered a further try when they counter-attacked at pace and Liam Richman raced in at the corner, with Houston again converting.
And the nightmare continued when Wallace charged down a kick and gathered then hurtled over to complete his hat-trick. Houston’s conversion took the visitors to within sight of the half-century.
And that landmark came in 53 minutes when Davidson intercepted a pass inside his own half and raced away to dot down between the sticks and leave Houston a simple conversion. And in an exact replica, Davidson plucked a second loose pass out of the air and ran 60 metres for another converted score.
Even when Josh Scott was sin-binned after several Heriot’s offsides, Watsonians squandered the rare opportunities that came their way.
And the rout was completed with three minutes to play when a Houston grubber ricocheted off a Watsonians leg and fell kindly for Wallace, whose predatory instincts gave him a fourth try, this time unconverted. That proved to be the final score of the evening. There was a touch of disbelief all round, and no doubt a sigh of relief in the home camp, when the final whistle sounded.
Watsonians: D Coetzer (M Reid 68); S King, G Pringle (F Thomson 54), L Berg, F Owsley (L MacPherson 40); J Baggott ©, M Scott (M McAndrew 54); C Davidson (G Scougall 54), C Davies (F Duraj 44), B Bratton (L Alessandri 73), J Berrisford, A Scopes, L Ball, C Wilson (K Watt 44), K van Niekerk.
Heriot’s: L Richman (D King 54); G Barber (S Pecqueur 54), M Davidson, G Hughes, L Wells; B Houston, F Campbell (E McAra 54); C Keen (J Scott 58), C Fenton ©, E McLaren (S Cessford 58), R Seydak, J Campell, W Nelson, S Wallace (R Jones 80), B Smith (D Hood 58).
Referee: Ian Kenny.
Watsonians: No scorers.
Heriot’s: Tries: F Campbell, Davidson 3, Wallace 4, Richman; Cons: Houston 6, Hughes; Pen: Houston.
Scoring sequence: 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-19; 0-21; 0-24; 0-29; 0-31 (h-t) 0-36; 0-38; 0-43; 0-45; 0-50; 0-52; 0-57; 0-59,;0-64.
Yellow cards https://www.theoffsideline.com/super-series-watsonians-heriots/
Man-of-the-Match: For the second successive week, Sam Wallace was a bundle of energy and his industry saw him bag four tries to take the award by a narrow margin from his team-mate Matt Davidson.
Talking point: Heriot’s have made significant progress since the arrival of Ben Cairns, and this performance confirmed that upward trajectory, marking them down as title contenders.