Heriot’s, it seems, can do no wrong at present, and the Goldenacre men stacked up another clutch of reasons to be cheerful as they celebrated being named BT club of the month for December by retaining the Bill McLaren Shield with a bonus-point win over a Currie side who performed in a manner that would be enough to win most matches in the BT Premiership.
Scorers: Heriot’s: Tries: Borel, Buchan, Nimmo, Carmichael. Cons: Wilson, Edwards (2). Currie: Tries: Weston, Erskine. Cons: Reynolds (2). Pens: Reynolds (3).
For Heriot’s, the four-try success was the latest maximum haul in a derby match this season – only once in six matches have they failed to take five points against local opposition.
For their part, Currie made an outstanding contribution to a cracking game of rugby and matched their opponents in most facets of the game. However, they lacked the composure shown by the hosts at vital stages and came up just short as they sought to atone for an agonising BT Cup defeat against the same opposition last time out.
A well-drilled Heriot’s pack struck the first blow in the battle for forward supremacy in three minutes, Nathan Borel applying the final touch after a powerful surge following a close range lineout, Graham Wilson converting.
After a disappointing day with the boot when the sides met on cup duty, Joe Reynolds was back to his reliable self. He landed a penalty from in front of the posts and was on target with the conversion of a try by Ross Weston after the Currie forwards showed that they were equally adept at playing a driving game.
That setback piqued Heriot’s into action and they snatched back the initiative when, after soaking up a spell of Currie pressure, a breakout ended with Glenn Bryce sending Keith Buchan over. The lead changed hands again in 32 minutes when Reynolds booted his second penalty, but by half time, the hosts had established a lead they would not relinquish. This time a searing break by Liam Steele almost unlocked the Currie defence and, when he was brought down just short of the whitewash, Russell Nimmo was on hand to complete the job. Stuart Edwards banged over the conversion before a third penalty by Reynolds left a three-point gap between the sides at the interval.
The Currie centre’s next effort crashed off an upright and that was the cue for another Heriot’s score. Steele was again the instigator, scything through the away side’s defence before offloading to Ruaraidh Carmichael, who hurtled in at the corner for the bonus-point try. Edwards again added the extras from wide on the right.
The Currie back line subjected the hosts to a strenuous defensive examination with a series of attacks but it was another forward contribution that yielded the next points for the visitors. A lineout drive ended with the pack trundling over the line, with replacement prop Mike Erskine dotting down. The conversion by Reynolds trimmed the deficit to three points with half an hour to play, and sparked a renewed spell of pressure.
The visitors opted to go for touch with a penalty that was well within kicking range, skipper Weston reasoning that they could capitalise on having a man advantage after the unfortunate Danny Levison was yellow carded for a team offence seconds after entering the fray.
But lack of precision with the ensuing lineout meant the chance was lost.
Not conceding at that stage was key to the final result according to Heriot’s coach Phil Smith. “That phase of defence, then nicking the ball and clearing it was just grown up play,” he said.
“That was good decision making by the right people.”
Both sides had further scoring opportunities but the biting cold and the furious pace of the game took its toll and contributed to a mounting error count in the closing minutes, with neither side adding to their points tally.
Coming up for Heriot’s is a match with Melrose where a win would see them join Ayr in having their name etched on the Bill McLaren Shield for four successive wins.
“That’s the thing for next week”, added Smith. “It’s important for us because we are doing pretty well, we are clear. If we can get that as well it would be great.”
Heriot’s: K Buchan; C Simpson, L Steele, R Carmichael, G Bryce; S Edwards, G Wilson; N Borel, S Mustard, S Cessford, R Nimmo, J Turley, J Ritchie, J McClean, J Hill. Subs: R Weir, JP Ward, D Levison.
Currie: H Elms; R Nairn. J Reynolds, F Efthymiou, R Smith; J Semple, R Snedden; J Cox, M Goodwin, G Carson, R Denonain, C McLean, M Vernal, M Peacock, R Weston. Subs: T Brooke, M McPhillips, A Hamilton, M McPhillips, M Mladenovic.
Referee: S Grove-White.