Ayrshire Bulls 33
GARY HEATLY @ Goldenacre
ELIAS CAVEN stole the show with four tries as the Ayrshire Bulls secured a bonus point triumph against Heriot’s in round eight the Super6 Championship. The winger put on a masterclass in finishing at Goldenacre while the Bulls defence stood firm when it needed to as the visitors underlined their title credentials.
The Bulls have momentum on their side going into their last two regular season outings and then the play-offs now. Meanwhile, after two home reverses on the spin, Heriot’s have to still make sure of their play-off involvement in the coming weeks.
“To come to Heriot’s and win 33-7, I am chuffed with the end outcome because Goldenacre is a tough place to come and play,” Bulls head coach Pat MacArthur said. “At points we made it hard for ourselves and we gave away soft entries into our 22, but our defence fronted up well when they had to.
“Eli got the tries today, but we have other dangerous players and we are continuously working on the mix of forward power and good backs moves as the play-offs edge closer.
“We don’t want to be a one-dimensional team, we work very hard up front to get space for our backs and things are building nicely, but we have to keep standards high over the next few weeks.”
The Bulls started on the front foot and in the fifth minute they took the lead. Some nice midfield play created an overlap out wide and Andy Stirrat sent fellow Scotland under-20 cap – and fellow centre – Thomas Glendinning home with a nice pass. Stand-off Ross Thompson, the Glasgow Warriors man returning from injury, converted and it was 7-0.
In the 10th minute try number two came and again it was set up by some neat midfield passing that had the Heriot’s defence scrambling. This time Stirrat and Thompson combined to put Caven in for the score. Caven ran a great angle while Thompson converted and it was 14-0.
As the game approached the end of the first quarter, Heriot’s got themselves into things and had a good attacking platform from a driving line-out, but the Bulls defence stood firm though and the home side were penalised for crossing as they tried to force the issue.
There was then a worrying moment when Heriot’s skipper Bruce Houston and Bulls winger Aaron Tait accidentally clashed as they went for a high ball. Thankfully, after treatment, Houston, who fell with a clatter, was able to continue.
In the 33rd minute the Bulls scored their third try when Cavan picked up a loose back and weaved in and out of several tackles – showing good power on the way – to dot down in the corner. Thompson could not convert, but it was 19-0.
A couple of minutes later Bulls captain Blair Macpherson was yellow carded for a high tackle in the midfield. The visitors managed to hold out until half-time with 14 men though, with Heriot’s still not being able to get over the try line despite full-back Matt Davidson and back-row Iain Wilson going close.
The third quarter of this match was very ‘stop-start’ with injury breaks and a constant stream of replacements and by the time the hour mark came and went it was still 19-0, then, with 15 minutes to go, Heriot’s gave themselves a lifeline.
Wilson, now captain with Houston off, blocked an attempted clearance kick by Bulls replacement scrum-half Jordan Lenac, gathered and had the presence of mind to feed the ball to his own sub number nine. Jed Gelderbloom did the rest, showing good pace to score from 20 metres out and when King converted it was 19-7.
With their tails up, Heriot’s tried one risky pass too many a few minutes later as they chased the game and Caven hacked the loose ball forward. King looked like he had got back to cover, but rain showers throughout the second had had left the surface slippery. He could not control the ball and Caven pounced to score. Hunt converted and the Bulls had a four try bonus point in the bag.
There was still time for Heriot’s replacement tight-head prop Euan McLaren to be yellow-carded and for the Bulls to score number five.
And that cherry on the top of their cake was a fourth from Caven who was, unsurprisingly, named Man-of-the-Match. Smith, with Hunt converting to finish things at 33-7.
“That was a lesson on how to be clinical from the Bulls,” Heriot’s co-coach Fin Gillies said. “We were not completely outplayed, far from it, we had our chances, but whenever we were in their ‘gold zone’ we tried to bludgeon our way over the line.
“Against a good defence like they have got that is always going to be tricky and we needed to show a bit more composure and variation in our attack.
“Our aim right now is to make the play-offs and we will do everything we can to make that happen in the next couple of weeks – and we have to keep searching for the right formula that will give us consistent 80 minute performances.”
Heriot’s: M Davidson; N Godsmark, R Steele, K Browne, J Henry; B Houston©, M McAndrew; J Scott, M Liness, D Gamble, F Hastie, R Seydak, M Badenhorst, I Wilson, J Mann. Substitutes: E Young, C McMillan, E McLaren, F Jones, C Cruikshank, J Gelderbloom, D King, S Pecqueur.
Ayrshire Bulls: Liam McNamara; A Tait, T Glendinning, A Stirrat, E Caven; R Thompson, C Jones; A Nimmo, J Malcolm, C Henderson, E Bloodworth, A Samuel, B MacPherson©, Lewis McNamara, S Vailanu Substitutes: A McGuire, J Drummond, M Scott, R Jackson, G Wilson, J Lenac, W Hunt, O Smith.
Referee: Finlay Brown.
Heriot’s: Try: Gelderbloom. Con: King.
Ayrshire Bulls: Tries: Glendinning, Caven 4. Con: Thompson 2, Hunt 2.
Scoring sequence (Heriot’s first): 0-5; 0-7; 0-12; 0-14; 0-19 (h-t); 5-19; 7-19; 7-24; 7-26; 7-31; 7-33.
Yellow cards –
Heriot’s: McLaren (78mins)
Ayrshire Bulls: MacPherson (35mins)
Man-of-the-Match: With four out of his side’s five tries and some great angles of running, Ayrshire Bulls winger Elias Caven was the main man here.
Talking point: As Heriot’s co-coach Fin Gillies said, the Bulls were clinical. However, what was perhaps more impressive than their attacking game was the way they defended, only letting in points when a kick was charged down. They are building nicely heading towards the play-offs.