Heriot’s coach Phil Smith has hailed the achievement of his men after the Goldenacre side achieved a rare victory at Malleny Park when they squeezed past Currie 24-21 in Saturday’s RBS Edinburgh Regional Cup clash.
Reflecting on a result that means only Biggar can now prevent Smith’s side from reaching the regional final, the coach said, “It’s a difficult place to come. So many Heriot’s teams have come to Malleny over the past few seasons and not won. It’s not a tradition that Heriot’s teams can just dig out results, so they have done a massive thing.”
Despite difficult conditions, the sides served up an entertaining encounter that featured several passages of excellent rugby and a glimpse into the future, with a clutch of youngsters and peripheral players staking a claim for selection when the Premiership resumes this weekend.
A first-minute penalty by Graham Wilson for the visitors was cancelled out by a similar effort from Gregor Hunter. Wilson then sent Colin Goudie sprinting over for the first try of the afternoon but Hunter responded with two further penalties to edge the hosts in front.
And, with Heriot’s duo Jason Hill and Struan Cessford both spending time in the sin bin, Currie extended their advantage when Murray Johnstone capped a fine performance on his first start for the club by exchanging passes with Jonny Gray and darting in for an unconverted touchdown.
However, by the break, the visitors had seized back the initiative with Wilson slotting a penalty then hurtling through a gap in the defence after a close-range scrum and adding the extras.
Another penalty by Wilson stretched the gap to seven points, but Currie battled back and another youngster, Rhys Davies, crashed over for the home side’s second try and Hunter converted to square matters. Both sides had chances to boost their points tally but there were no additions until four minutes from full time when Wilson banged over his fourth penalty. A solid finishing effort by the home side yielded a penalty from the final play of the match. However, Hunter’s strike from wide on the right drifted just past the upright, leaving the hosts with only a narrow defeat bonus point, although they remain top of the Group 2 table.
Home coach Ally Donaldson sought out the positive aspects, saying, “I thought we had the vast majority of the territory and possession. We had a lot of our senior guys missing and we brought in a lot of young guys who were playing their first or second games.” And, delighted with the effort of his men – four of whom were under the age of 20 – he added, “We are taking a lot of heart from that. I’m really pleased at how well they did. I’m disappointed with the result but I’m really pleased with the performance.”
Elsewhere, Watsonians suffered a third successive defeat when they succumbed 12-6 to Stewart’s Melville at Inverleith, with all of the points coming in the first half. Tries from Adam Greig and Joni Hare, the latter converted by Seb Trotter, were countered by two Brian Walls penalties to see the hosts home.
Boroughmuir maintained their recent upturn in fortunes and warmed up for Saturday’s vital league clash against title chasing Gala with a 21-0 win at Haddington. However, the hosts made life difficult for their Premiership opponents who eventually chalked up three converted tries.
Meanwhile, Musselburgh touched down four times and had a 15-point haul from stand off Dave O’Hagan in a 35-7 win at Hawthornden against a Lasswade side that has now completed a dismal cup campaign.