Super6 Sprint: Heriot’s have too much firepower for plucky Boroughmuir Bears

Pack strength and professional experience in the back-line gives visitors a crucial edge

Boroughmuir Bears captain Corey Tait weighs up his options against Jason Hill of Heriot's. Image: Steve Langmead
Boroughmuir Bears captain Corey Tait weighs up his options against Jason Hill of Heriot's. Image: Steve Langmead

Boroughmuir Bears 22

Heriot’s 38

IAIN MORRISON @ Meggetland

HERIOT’S RUGBY claimed their second win in the second half of this Super6 season and the George Clark Cup to boot, but it proved a little more complex than seemed likely when the visitors raced into a 17–0 lead late in the first half. Two tries for the Bears either side of the break, a family affair from brothers Corey and Rhys Tait, brought Boroughmuir right back into this contest only for the visitors to flex their muscles and nail this one down during the final half hour. 

The visitors finished with six tries in all, fair reward for their superiority. They boasted a little more muscle up front where Jason Hill and Jack Mann carried tirelessly, and were well served by some Edinburgh professionals in the back line. With tries going to Jack Blain, Chris Dean and Charlie Savala the extra experience was clear to see on the scoreboard.

“I thought that the entire bench made a big impact for us,” said Heriots’ coach Andrew Kelly. “But, yes, we did have some class to call upon.

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“We did our homework on the Bears and we knew that they’d bring some fight. We were poor at the breakdown where we conceded I think it was six turnover in the opening quarter to their jacklers. Our defence has now conceded eight tries in the last two games so there is plenty to tighten up but overall I was pretty happy.”

The opening exchanges of the game were scrappy, disjointed and wayward. Passes went to ground, tackles missed and neither side resourced the breakdown so both teams conceded the inevitable turnovers.

But after that forgettable opening quarter the game sparked into life and the crowd suddenly had something to shout about. Neither side kicked a penalty, or even attempted one, and all 10 tries appeared in the final, hectic 55 minutes of this match.

The first sustained attack by either side didn’t arrive until just after the 20 minute mark and it was sparked by Edinburgh winger Blain who popped up not once but three times in the assault. He kick-started the whole thing by pouncing on a loose pass and kicking a 50/22 to give his side great field position. The leggy winger then popped up twice more, coming off his wing, looking for work, and winning a penalty (for a high tackle) that Heriots kicked into the corner. A few plays later and his Edinburgh colleague Chris Dean, who appeared to be on a mission all night, spotted the Bears’ defence a little narrow leaving a Gregor Tait sized gap on the left flank and Dean’s pass gave his winger the simplest of scores.

Dean had already sent Tait free up the left wing only for the winger to be called back for a forward pass so the Bears can’t say they weren’t warned.

With the crowd having to wait 25 minutes for a try, suddenly they got three in the space of just 13 minutes as the visitors piled on the misery.

Next up was Blain himself, as the spark for the opening score finished off the second. Heriot’s broke from deep with Dean initiating the break from his own half. The ball went to flanker Mann, Nyle Godsmark and skipper Ruairidh Leishman before being recycled. When fly-half Bruce Houston looked up he spotted Blain in splendid isolation on the right wing and the his kick/pass fell pretty much perfectly for the winger.

And just when things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse for the hosts, Dean helped himself to his team’s third try, intercepting Adam Scott’s pass deep inside Bears territory after the winger had chased back to collect a kick. This one was under the sticks so Houston added his first conversion of the evening at the third time of asking. It may have been coincidence but Scott was yanked at half time for replacement Glen Faulds.

But this Bears side have spirit and resilience to spare. With just a few minutes left on the clock they worked their way upfield, thanks in part to a penalty, and hooker Corey Tait came up with an important try to keep the home side interested in this tie, but only after the referee had checked with his touchie. Muir were still trailing but that late touchdown meant that the half time score of 5-17  was a better reflection of the first half play.

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Whatever Graham Shiel said at half time had the right effect because Cory Tait almost repeated his party trick immediately after the break in the exact same manner. The hooker was stopped inches short, illegally, but his big brother Rhys, the Scotland Under-20s captain, drove over in the very next play to accelerate the Bears’ revival.

With their lead threatened the visitors upped their game and produced the best passage of play in the match to date with forwards and backs interacting seamless to create genuine accuracy in attack that proved unstoppable. The ball fairly fizzed across the away team’s back-line and full-back Ross Jones was untroubled by defenders when touching down in the right hand corner.

Both sides looked to the bench around the 60 minute mark and Heriot’s whistled up Edinburgh’s Savala to replace Houston as playmaker (the fly-half moved to outside centre), alongside Dean in a potent midfield combo.

Heriot’s continued to press in the final quarter although one chance went west when a forward reached out for the try line but came up short and lost the ball in the process. They were not denied for long, however, with the forwards rumbling a maul up to the Bear’s line before Savala applied the coup de grace.

The Bears again displayed their fighting spirit by scoring a cracking, length-of-the-field score. No 8 Scott McGinley found space through the middle of a ruck and replacement Scott Robeson couldn’t be stopped from short range.

Heriot’s bit back immediately with skipper Ruairidh Leishman sending replacement scrum-half Jed Gelderbloom over for his side’s sixth try of the evening with six minutes left on the clock.

And there was still time for Chris Anderson, on debut for the Bears, to have the last word, the prop barrelling over after sustained pressure.

“It is all part of a learning process,” was Shiel’s take on the evening’s events. “It’s great for people like Robbie McCallum to go up against Chris Dean or for Harry Mercer to play against Charlie Savala. That doesn’t happen very often so we have to learn from the experience.

“We worked hard and yes we have spirit but we do need to be a little more consistent with things like intensity. I can’t question the players’ commitment.”


Teams –

Boroughmuir Bears: T Brown; A Scott, D Munn, R McCallum, J Jenkins; H Mercer, R Swan; B Sweet, C Tait, M McGinley, J King, H Bain, G Brown, R Tait,, S McGinley. Subs: I Carmichael, C Anderson, M Goodwin, E Stewart, M Mncube, M Johnstone, C Allan, S Roberson, G Faulds.

Heriots: R Jones; G Tait, N Godsmark, C Dean, J Blain; B Houston, M McAndrew, C Keen, M Liness, S Cessford, R Leishman, F Hastie, J Mann, I Wilson, J Hill. Subs: D Hood, G Strain, E McLaren, J Campbell, R Seydak, J Gelderbloom, C Savala, B Evans.

Referee: Finlay Brown.


Scorers –

Boroughmuir Bears: Tries: C Tait, R Tait, Robeson, Anderson: Con: Faulds.

Heriots: Tries: Tait, Blain, Dean, Jones, Savala, Gelderbloom; Cons: Houston 3, Savala.

Sequence of scoring (Boroughmuir first): 0-5; 0-10; 0-15; 0-17; 5-17 (h-t) 10-17; 10-22; 10-24; 10-29; 10-31; 15-31; 15-36; 15-38; 20-38; 22-38.


Man-of-the-Match: Several candidates put their hand up with Heriot’s flanker Jack Mann catching the eye and winger Jack Blain doing the same, but Chris Dean was a deserving winner in the end. Rather than sulk about having to drop down a level, the Edinburgh player chose instead to make a point and produced a coruscating display, never far from the ball, providing one minute, finishing the next. He was even spotted counter rucking near his own try line!

Talking point: This match was horrible for the opening quarter when neither side was able to impose themselves on the opposition and both teams made a slew of unforced errors. Then, as if by magic, someone turned the switch on and we had ourselves a cracker of a contest with skill, ambition and ten good tries.

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About Iain Morrison 151 Articles
Iain was capped 15 times for Scotland at openside flanker between his debut against Ireland during the 1993 Six Nations and his final match against New Zealand at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. He was twice a Cambridge ‘Blue’ and played his entire club career with London Scottish (being inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame in 2016). Iain is a lifelong member of Linlithgow Rugby Club. After hanging up his boots, he became rugby correspondent for The Sunday Herald, before moving to The Scotland on Sunday for 16 years, and he has also guest written for various other publications.


  1. Last summer the suggestion in the football world was to have a Superleague in Europe this was quickly thrown into touch mainly because there was to be no relegation or promotion a must for any progressive league take note of Super 6. if a club in Scotland brings on a player through all the age groups up to a Super 6 club, when a player moves up to that Super 6 club, the club of origin should be recompensed for their years of hard work with that player.

  2. When the model for super 6 was brought out most of us thought the concept was ok.As time has evolved the sru have taken most of the team control away from the clubs/franchises.You only need to look at this weeks super 6 team selections with the amount of pro players released to play by glasgow and edinburgh.Today at stirling v bulls we had 3 pro glasgow players in the bulls front row ?? I realy would like to know who is making the decision where these players play.

  3. Bottom line with Super 6 is that those involved view it as a competition and above a development tool , we can see this from the majority of selections thus far and we are only two weeks in. As an example there are still players that played in the U20 not being selected to start – Rudi Brown ( Knights) and Ben Evans ( Heriots) being obvious ones who have benched in the first two games.
    Rudi Brown in particular must be wondering what adult rugby is about , he has benched for Watsonians super 6 last year , the U20’s , Hawick and now the Knights… the lad won’t be able to play a full game … he is 18 … get him playing week in week out. You are not telling me that any of the picked Knights back row ( whilst all decent enough players ) are going to be going much further up the cut …
    It’s little wonder players leave the game and I am glad I never played in the era of substitutions as there is no way I would have continued playing a game where you only get partial game time etc.
    The coaches will pick their strongest team despite suggested instruction otherwise. Why pick pro players , players in or nearing their 30’s and journeyman players ahead of these younger players ?
    Many of these decisions just show that the coaches just give lip service to the suggestion that they are going to develop young players …. they will more often than not pick their best team as ultimately the results reflect on them and their aspirations to proceed further up the coaching ladder.
    Defeats build pressure so it is counter intuitive for coaches to field anything other than they feel is a team to win.
    Unfortunately many players have worked out what the Super 6 is about and many eligible players simply don’t want to play Super 6 hence the reason we see these franchises already struggling in certain positions. Too many have ended up as fringe players with severely limited game time and being tackle bag holders.
    There should be a quota system working within Super 6 which guarantees all squad players a certain amount of game time – thus would force coaches to mix an match players and move away from selecting the same players each week. If all coaches were forced to do this it would produce a far more fair and equitable process for those players involved in it.
    What is the benefit of playing pro contract players in a Super 6 competition in preference to exposing younger players ?? , the SRU goalposts have shifted yet again…
    It’s the general mindset that needs to change but this is the case across the whole game. Scotland does not have the playing resources to support a professional , semi professional and club game and it just ends up in the mess we see now…

  4. Oh and did young Ben Evans even get on the pitch ? Is so for how long
    How is that helping his development

  5. Totally agree heriots and Watson’s are only interested in one thing winning
    Kudos to muir who are giving youth a chance and sticking with this ( what super6 is meant to be ) , as are county
    The jury’s still out on the knights and Ayr
    Give the future a chance ,

  6. Why did Heriots have to play 3 Pros in Dean , Savala and
    Blain ? I thought the idea of Super 6 was to give game time
    and test the young and new stars of the future ?
    But it’s obviously winning that counts – even although there is
    no threat of relegation !

    • Thought this was to benefit young Scottish qualified players .
      So why are ex Welsh 7 s and English and overseas players allowed in these squads
      Can someone explain how this is allowed to happen when spaces in these squads will be limited

      • The squads are made up of 32 players. Each squad is allowed up to 4 non Scottish players. I think that’s reasonable. Some might/will disagree.

        We seem to always focus on the negatives, that one welsh 7s player, but what about the 20 still U20 qualified players who played this week.


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