Boroughmuir Bears 34
DAVID BARNES @ Meggetland
THIRD time lucky for Boroughmuir Bears. After two near misses, the Meggetland man finally picked up their maiden Super6 victory in suitably dramatic fashion. A late try from Jack Steele seemed to have the result in the bag, but they then conceded three quick-fire penalties as the game entered injury time, which allowed Heriot’s (who were a man down due to the yellow-carding of replacement hooker Ali Johnstone) to march the length of the field, and there felt like an inevitability about what was going to happen next.
But on this occasion the home team dug deep to repel the line-out drive, and when the ball was shifted in field there was a fumble, meaning Graham Shiel’s men had held on for a valuable, morale-boosting win.
“The first half was a bit stop-start – both teams seemed to want to make a lot of errors which maybe made the game entertaining but it was frustrating from our point of view – however we did take our chances when they arose and to go in level at the break was really pleasing,” said Shiel.
“Then, to come from behind late on was really pleasing because the players worked really hard to take control of territory and possession to get into that position,” he added. “However, we just about undid it all through a bit of over-eagerness and a lack of composure. Fortunately, we held on in for the win, so we got what we were after and it was also great opportunity to learn from.”
Heriot’s head coach Phil Smith was depondent. His team had looked the most advanced of all the sides in this competition in round one when they beat Ayrshire Bulls at Millbrae, but since then they have slumped to back-to-back defeats against their two Edinburgh rivals.
“You don’t mind getting beat if you feel as if you have done all you can to win, but to get neat two weeks running when doing all you can to get beat is frustrating,” he said. “Once again, we 100 percent contributed to our own downfall with actions which we know are wrong, but we repeated again and again.
“It is frustrating because we know the other stuff is in there – we see the good bits but then it flips into a poor bit.”
The Bears got off to a flyer when winger Cammy Gray streaked over on with less than a minute and half played after an excellent chip over the top from captain Chris Laidlaw prised open the Heriot’s defence.
Heriot’s responded in familiar fashion on nine minutes when a line-out close to the line ended with No 8 Jason Hill muscling over, then they repeated the trick five minutes later when a penalty reversal against the Bears after some post-whistle handbags allowed the visitors to go to the corner again, and this time it was hooker Michael Liness who got the ball down.
The Bears showed that two can play at that game, with their hooker Johnny Matthews scoring a near identical try just a few moments later. Kyle McGhie then had an opportunity to nudge the hosts into the lead with a long-range penalty awarded against Heriot’s hands on the deck, but while his effort had the legs it floated left of the kindling.
Instead it was Heriot’s who struck next, and they did so in ingenuous fashion, when scrum-half Dan Nutton flew into the gap at a shortened line-out, took a rocket pass from Liness at full-tilt, and scampered home while the home team’s players were still looking at each other in confusion.
The Bears finished the half with a flourish when Bruce Flockhart’s initial break launched the move which culminated with second-row Ewan Stewart rampaging under the posts.
A Ross Jones penalty rolled Heriot’s into gear at the start of the second-half, but in keeping with the pattern of the first half, Boroughmuir promptly responded in kind, with McGhie firing home three points of his own on 47 minutes.
Heriots’ scrum is much vaunted, but it didn’t look too clever on 55 minutes (just after Dan Winning had come on at tight-head for Boroughmuir) when it skidded backwards and then went down, allowing McGhie to kick the home team ahead for the first time since the ninth minute. But their lead was short lived.
An electrifying snipe by Heriots’ replacement scrum-half Andrew Simmers from the base of a maul cut Boroughmuir wide open, and, after a quick recycle, a long cut-out pass from Jones sent replacement centre Scott Robeson in for Heriots’ bonus point try.
It looked like Boroughmuir had struck back when Matthews peeled from the tail of a line-out but his offload to Steele was a fraction forward. But the home side kept the pressure on, and they eventually got their reward.
With two minutes left on the clock, and after a prolonged bombardment, Steele – who had made a big impact as replacement for Greg Cannie in the centre around the hour mark – wrestled his way over for what proved to be the decisive score.
Boroughmuir Bears: M Cimprich; C Gray, A Russell, G Cannie (J Steele 62), G Faulds; C Laidlaw ©, K McGhie (T Wilson 79); C Capps (A McWilliam 79), J Matthews, M McGinley (D Winning 53), E Stewart, C Atkinson, B Flockhart, S McGinley, T Drennan (G Brown 57).
Heriot’s: R Chalmers; J Blain, R Jones, S King, J Couper; B Chalmers (S Robeson 51), D Nutton (S Simmers 53); J Scott, M Liness (A Johnstone 71, M Liness 75), S Cessford, A Sinclair (C Jupp 53), C Marshall, I Wilson©, J McLean, J Hill.
Referee: Michael Todd
Boroughmuir Bears: Try: Gray, Matthews, Stewart, Steele; Con: McGhie 4; Pen: McGhie 2.
Heriot’s: Try: Hill, Liness, Nutton, Robeson; Con: Jones 4; Pen: Jones.
Scoring sequence (Boroughmuir Bears first): 5-0; 7-0; 5-7; 7-7; 7-12; 7-14; 12-14; 14-14; 14-19; 14-21; 19-21; 21-21 (h-t) 21-24; 24-24; 27-24; 27-29; 27-31.
Yellow cards –
Man-of-the-Match: Boroughmuir second-row Callum Atkinson was a big presence at line-out and around the park, and scored the match clinching try for good measure.
Talking point: Another really tight match. From seven games so far, there has been four losing bonus points and a draw. It would take a brave man or woman to bet on how this league is going to pan out.