HERIOT’S won at a canter, scoring four tries to take the extra bonus point that pushes them into second place in the Premiership table.
Scorers: Heriot’s – Tries: Steele 2, Turley, Wilson. Cons: Wilson 4. Pens: Wilson 2. Stirling: Tries: Blackhall, Keddie. Cons: Martin.
But Heriot’s coach Phil Smith, pleased to have guided his team to four victories in a row, was left with a sense of dissatisfaction after a match the home side controlled from beginning to end and were never in danger of losing.
“I felt there was more in the tank if I was to be honest,” he said. “Sometimes you want to win by a bit more, because you are worth more. If you look at the opportunities we created and then blew towards the end of the first half that would have set us up well for the second half because we looked dangerous when we had the ball and should have had more points.”
Heriot’s set the pattern of the game from the outset with one-way traffic towards the Boroughmuir line and most of the play confined to the final third. Scrum-half Graham Wilson knocked over a couple of early penalties to take the club’s points total for the season over the century mark.
Then full-back Charlie Simpson, a veteran of rugby in Ireland and France, drifted forward deceptively for some 30 metres and only dogged tackling by the Boroughmuir pack prevented early tries as well.
With 17 minutes gone, Boroughmuir managed to break out of their own half for the first time as the ball was transferred at close quarters between their back row and kept alive until a final off-load to stand-off Graeme Blackhall allowed him to burst through a gap and run right through Simpson’s despairing tackle to get a try completely against the run of play. Blackhall somewhat spoiled the moment by missing the simple conversion that would have put the visitors ahead. Five minutes later it was Heriot’s first try, the 1,200-strong crowd celebrating in the autumn sunshine. Outside centre Liam Steele, promoted from the second XV after impressive performances, got the ball 40 metres out and somehow glided through a flock of static defenders to score the try. Wilson added the conversion.
Heriot’s attempted to turn the screw and battered their way to the line but despite several close encounters could not ground the ball as Boroughmuir, beleaguered and breathing hard, held on until half-time.
After the break, Heriot’s continued to apply sustained pressure and it seemed only a matter of time before skipper Jack Turley collected the pop pass that allowed him to barge over with a clutch of Boroughmuir jerseys hanging on to him.
Wilson, consistent as ever, added the extras to make the margin 15 points.
Boroughmuir tried to halt Heriot’s momentum by electing to kick for goal when a penalty was awarded, but Ian Martin, who replaced injured winger Craig Hunter at half-time, made a complete hash of it, hooking it badly to the left of the post.
Even so, Boroughmuir fought their way forward and were suddenly enough of a clear and present threat to convince tighthead prop Struan Cessford that he should sacrifice himself and kill the ball at a ruck.
He went to the sin-bin and for the next ten minutes Boroughmuir tried, but failed, to make the numerical advantage tell. The moment Heriot’s were restored to full strength, Steele ran in his second try and Wilson kicked the conversion.
Boroughmuir, to their credit, might have been a beaten team at this point but they would not lie down. One sweeping passing movement went from one side of the pitch to the other and ended with centre Mark Hare off-loading out of the tackle to Blackhall who passed on to blindside Craig Keddie who took it round behind the posts for the try. Martin could not miss the conversion.
It might have finished like that but in injury time Heriot’s winger Harry Boisseau pinballed between ineffectual tackles to reach the Boroughmuir 22 before handing it to Turley who took out the remaining defenders before off-loading to Wilson for the try and, of course, the conversion that followed.
Boroughmuir coach Bruce Aitchison said: “The frustrating thing about the game was that we wanted to stay in touch for as long as we could and see if we could apply some pressure.
“We defended pretty well and our defence has had to be good because we have other things that are not working so well. We played with some good shape. Our tries came off playing with a bit of discipline and a bit of organisation. Unfortunately, we are just not able to rein the game back in again when it gets away from us a little bit. We don’t really have boys for broken field play whereas Heriot’s have three or four that can scorch up the turf and it makes life difficult for us. We still had our chances and we are still reasonably positive.
“We had 19 players unavailable or injured today and they will be coming back into the reckoning and by the time we hit the end of October we are going to be quite a different-looking team.”
Heriot’s: C Simpson; C Gaudie, L Steele, R Carmichael, H Boisseau; S Edwards, G Wilson; N Borel, D McGregor, S Cessford, R Nimmo, B Gogley, J Turley, J McLean, J Hill. Subs: G Cameron, B Couper, C Sinclair, G McNeish K Buchan.
Boroughmuir: E Farquharson; C Hunter, C Hardie, M Hare, A Kororua; G Blackhall, J Adams; R Wilson, C Davies, J Latta, T Sutton, A Best, C Keddie, J Hare, A Rose. Subs: S Bingham, A Wallace, J Hamblin, S Johnston, I Martin.