Southern Knights 16
COLIN RENTON @ Goldenacre
HERIOT’S completed a deserved Super6 double over Southern Knights on successive Saturdays, eventually subduing the Borderers, who never quite clicked into top gear but nonetheless offered stout resistance.
There was agreement between the coaches that the result was a fair reflection of the game, with Phil Smith suggesting that the strength in depth at his disposal was the key to the victory, while Rob Chrystie was again left ruing what might have been.
“There is literally nothing between certain positions. We’ve got five very good middle-rows, and six front-row players,” said Smith. “Last week the bench made the difference and again the bench made a big difference. We were in a position we could maintain the momentum because our subs are as good as the boys that were on the pitch.”
Chrystie knows his side are progressing but he conceded that lack of cohesion remains an issue, saying. “I think if we’re completely honest, Heriot’s were probably the stronger team so well done to them,” he conceded.
“We keep making individual errors and not being as connected as we need to be. Until we cut that out it’s always going to be difficult,” he added. “Since the Ayrshire Bulls game when we were absolutely diabolical, we have got a lot better. Heriot’s are a strong squad, they’re a rounded squad, they have a lot of strength in depth up front and they are pretty confident as well. We can definitely do things better and we will be working hard to make sure we do that.”
The stated purpose of the tournament is to develop emerging talent and the performances of Heriot’s youngsters Dan Nutton and Dan Gamble, as well as Knights flanker Harri Morris, were among numerous good examples of that being achieved.
The visitors made the better start and a penalty booted into touch inside the Heriot’s 22 created the platform for a multi-phase attack. However, as they tried to move the ball wide, Rory McMichael intercepted a pass meant for Joe Jenkins and galloped clear. He was collared by Fraser Thomson and the danger was averted.
Having survived that spell with relative ease, Heriot’s gained the upper hand. A powerful surge shunted Knights backwards and, although Adam Sinclair was thwarted just short of the target, the referee was playing advantage and seconds later the deadlock was broken when Michael Liness crashed over. Ross Jones added the conversion.
By the end of the first quarter, Knights had cut the deficit when Jason Baggot landed a penalty and, as the clocked ticked towards the half hour the deficit dwindled to a single point when the stand-off stroked over another three pointer.
However, the home side responded with a penalty from Jones, before Knights regained the initiative for the closing minutes of the half.
After conceding five penalties in quick succession, Heriot’s could consider themselves fortunate to still have a full complement of players as the first period drew to a close. Then with the final play, Knights found a way through when abrasive hooker Fraser Renwick took the direct route, blasting his way over for a try that handed Knights the half time lead. Jack McClean was initially despatched to the sin-bin for another offence in the build up although during the half-time break it transpired that Iain Wilson was the offender and he spent the first ten minutes of the second half on the sidelines.
Within two minutes of the restart, Heriot’s were ahead once more. With the Knight’s defence stretched, the ball was moved out to Cameron Hutchison in the centre, who powered through two tackles then stretched over for a try that was converted by Jones.
Heriot’s appeared to have made the game safe when the ball was swept along the line to James Couper who, without altering his stride, gathered a pass that was below the knee and raced in at the right had corner, but the Knights weren’t quite yet ready to give up the ghost.
A missed conversion left the gap at 11 points and when Ruaridh Knott was on hand to finish off a powerful drive by Knights for an unconverted score, there was renewed hope for the visitors. There were further chances, but the failings that Chrystie identified ended the visitors’ hopes and left them with only a narrow defeat bonus point – a third of the campaign – for their efforts.
Heriot’s: R Chalmers; R McMichael, R Kay, C Hutchison, J Blain; R Jones, D Nutton; J Scott Michael Liness, Dan Gamble, Adam Sinclair, Charlie Jupp, Iain Wilson, Jack McClean, Jason Hill. Subs: A Johnstone, C Keen, R Seydak, C Marshall, A Simmers, J Spencer, J Couper.
Southern Knights: F Thomson; C Whyte, P Anderson, G Wood, J Jenkins; J Baggott, S Hutchison; S Gunn, F Renwick, E McQuillan, J Head, A Runciman, N Irvine-Hess, H Morris, I Moody. Subs: F Scott, D Redpath, R Knott, T Galbraith, A Nagle, J Henry.
Referee: G Ormiston
Heriot’s: Tries: Liness, Hutchison, Couper; Cons: Jones 2; Pen: Jones.
Southern Knights: Try; Renwick, Knott; Pens: Baggott 2.
Scoring sequence (Heriot’s first): 5-0; 7-0; 7-3; 7-6; 10-6; 10-11 (h-t) 15-11; 17-11; 22-11.
Yellow Cards –
Heriot’s: Iain Wilson
Man-of-the-Match: Often under-rated for his contribution in defence, it was impossible to overlook Rob Kay on this occasion as he delivered a series of thumping tackles and also showed up well in attack.
Talking point: Phil Smith’s rotation policy is paying off as giving game time to all of his squad means Heriot’s now have great strength in depth in every position.