Southern Knights 21
ALAN LORIMER @ The Greenyards
HERIOT’S RUGBY reset their FOSROC Super6 compass after defeat to Boroughmuir two weeks ago by inflicting a bonus point victory over Southern Knights at The Greenyards thanks to a strong second half performance and faultless goal kicking from stand-off Bruce Houston.
For much of the first half Heriot’s had looked vulnerable against a Knight’s side bolstered by three Edinburgh pros, Jamie Jack and Luan De Bruin in the front-row and the energetic Charlie Shiel at scrum-half. In the event, the two Dam Park props had a huge influence in the set scrums while Shiel’s eye for the gap gave Knights forward momentum.
But Heriot’s countered this with unstoppable driving mauls which proved to be the match winner before playing a more expansive game in the second half. Head coach, Fin Gillies, admitted that his side had been run desperately close until they scored a fortunate try at the death.
“It was a three point game in the last ten minutes,” he conceded. “We’ve had a challenging week with emergency loans that allowed us to cobble together a team. We’ve got to thank Glasgow Hawks for giving us Oban Baird and Euan McAra and the Blues for lending us Sam Wallace. To come away with five points at The Greenyards, which has not been a happy hunting ground for us is massive”.
For Southern Knights this was a game that they could have won after a bright start to the game as their coach Bruce Ruthven acknowledged.
He said: “We scored a couple of good tries early doors and then just before half time we knocked-on just before the line. That would have put us ahead going into half time. But our downfall was giving them field position through ill-discipline. Heriot’s came into the game in the second half and played some nice rugby but ultimately that was a game that got away from us’.
Knights’ early sparkle was in no small way down to Charlie Shiel who stamped his class on the game with a lightening break that had support from Rudi Brown. No try resulted but minutes later, teenager Brown ran a clever line to claim the first try of the contest, David Colvine’s conversion goal maximising the score.
Heriot’s response was a driving maul from a penalty line-out that seemed certain to yield points only for the ball to be held up over the line. Having escaped Knights then incarcerated themselves by putting the ball straight into touch from the drop-out resulting in a five-metre line-out and a second shot for Heriot’s of using the driving the maul. This time it was successful, Michael Liness completing the work of his fellow forwards and Bruce Houston converting to level the scores.
The advantage then swung to Knights after the home side engineered a classic score from a set scrum. Robbie Chalmers feinting a wide break before passing inside to blindside wing Aidan Cross who then shot through midfield for a try under the posts, converted by Colvine.
The visitors, however, immediately had a chance to bring their successful maul into operation once again, resulting in a second try for Liness and a conversion by Houston.
Knights should have taken the lead once more after skilfully creating an overlap on the right only for the final pass to leave Cross trying to pick the ball off his bootlaces.
Heriot’s responded as though Knights had scored, creating yet another driving maul, but this time without a try ensuing. However their efforts were not unrewarded when a minute later they won a penalty in front of the posts leaving Houston to put his side into a 17-14 half time lead from his simple kick off the tee.
Both sides had a chance of adding further points in the first five minutes of the second half but it was Heriot’s who were looking the stronger and the more confident, eschewing two easy kicks at goal, opting instead for close range surges at the line.
These came to nought but when Heriot’s made changes it was two benchmen who produced the next try, replacement scrum-half Euan McAra breaking from the back of a ruck and fellow replacement Sam Wallace, providing the link before delivering the scoring pass to Sam Pecqueur. Once again the unfailing Houston added the extras to open a ten point gap.
But just as it looked like Heriot’s were taking a grip of the game, Knights struck with an opportunist try, created by a darting run from Shiel and support from Brown, who had the strength to carry the ball over the line. Colvine converted to bring Knights within three points of their opponents.
Having clawed their way back into bonus point territory, Knights then gave away a soft score, when trying to run the ball from their own goal line. The move ended in disaster when Finn Douglas’ attempted clearance kick was charged down by Heriot’s replacement centre Rob Kay who had the pace to sprint for the touchdown. Then to cap a huge performance, Houston made it five from fife off the tee with the conversion kick to seal the win for Heriot’s.
Southern Knights: D Colvine; A Cross, P Anderson, R Chalmers, K Winters; C Scott, C Shiel; J Jack, R Anderson©, L De Bruin, J Campbell, A Ferrie, R Brown, W Nelson, S Derrick. Substitutes: F Renwick, G Shiels, M Mbaud, E Demirel, J Miller, D Crawford, K McGhie, F Douglas.
Heriot’s Rugby: D King; R Steele, N Godsmark, R Jones, S Pecqueur; B Houston, J Gelderbloom; J Scott, M Liness, E McLaren, F Hastie, R Seydak, R Leishman©, C Anderson, J Mann. Subs: O Baird, S Cessford, D Gamble, S Wallace, K Browne, E McAra, B Kay, F Jones.
Referee: Hollie Davidson.
Southern Knights: Tries Brown 2, Cross; Cons: Colvine.
Heriot’s Rugby: Tries Liness 2, Pecqueur, Kay; Cons: Houston 4; Pen: Houston.
Scoring Sequence (Southern Knights first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-5; 7-7; 12-7; 14-7; 14-12; 14-14; 14-17 (h-t) 14-22; 14-24; 19-24; 21-24; 21-29; 21-31
Man-of-the-Match: Teenager Rudi Brown showed just how much progress he has made in recent weeks with a performance that was characterised by perceptive play that ensured he was always close to the ball carrier and a physicality exceptional for one so young. Oh, and he scored two tries.
Talking point: The distribution of pro players is becoming a hot topic in Super6. Against Heriot’s, the Knights had more than one pro player for the first time in this series – and they made their presence count. Pros in Super6 will drive up the standard but there has to be a fair allocation week by week, otherwise it is the same problems that beset the Premiership will visit the semi-professional competition.