HERIOT’S marked the mid-point of the BT Premiership by extending their lead in the championship after outclassing Gala at Netherdale with an all-round display of both attacking and defensive rugby and showing the form that should have them competing for the title come the play-offs next April.
The Goldenacre men cut out the mistakes that cost them against Melrose two weeks ago and, with a solid scrummaging display that had Hertiot’s stalwart Iain Milne beaming in the stand, allied to fast and effective play behind the scrum, Gala were on the back foot for much of the match.
Heriot’s have a stellar cast behind the scrum with combined pace that other clubs must envy. And, moreover, Heriot’s were able to bring on Scotland Sevens cap James Fleming to torment Gala in the last quarter.
Another big factor in Heriot’s win was their ability to stop Gala’s attacks with quick enagagement in the tackle. “We put a big emphasis on line-speed and when we do that we put big pressure on the opposition,” said Steve Lawrie, Heriot’s defence coach.
For Gala there was no disguising their frustration at the end of a match in which they came second best in so many areas of the game. “What bothers me is that this is the second game in succession that we’ve lost and the first defeat at home this season,” admitted Gala’s coach, George Graham.
Heriot’s looked winners early in the game with stylish play that quickly produced a try for left wing Charlie Simpson after accurate passing by Jack Turley and Jason Hill.
Then, after Heriot’s scrum-half Graham Wilson had been sin-binned, Gala stepped up their game to score a close-range try by Luke Pettie from a lineout drive, Craig Dods’ conversion giving the Maroons the lead, only for the visitors to regain the advantage with a score by Hill from a move that owed everything to the pace of Harry Boisseau.
A Wilson penalty early in the second half extended Heriot’s lead but Gala responded with power and precision from their forwards and accuracy with ball in hand to produce a try for winger Shaun Law, Keith Young delivering the final pass.
But thereafter it was Heriot’s who took ownership of the game, Wilson kicking a penalty goal and then converting a try from a tap penalty move by Stuart Edwards for a 23-12 lead.
Heriot’s, now finding themselves ahead by a substantial margin, then piled on the pressure in pursuit of the bonus-point try and succeeded three minutes from full-time when Glenn Bryce powered over the Gala line, Wilson’s conversion making the scoreline even more satisfying for the league leaders.