The question coach Phil Smith will ask is why on earth it took his side so long to put clear water between themselves and a Boroughmuir side which was second best in every aspect of the game with the possible exception of sheer, bloody-minded determination.
On the plus side, Heriot’s full-back Charles Simpson looked dangerous with the ball in hand and the big men up front bossed the set piece and the breakdown with ruthless efficiency. Jason Hill and Struan Cessford carried tirelessly, the only criticism being that they weren’t always as dynamic with the ball in hand as they could have been. Time and again the bigger-built home forwards gobbled up the visitors, holding them up in a “choke” tackle and winning the turnover.
Had this been a boxing match the referee must have been tempted to halt proceedings at half time, as Heriots pummelled Boroughmuir from pillar to post and back again. In the first half the home side worked their way into the Muir red zone on a regular basis only to find ever more inventive ways of stuffing up the scoring opportunity. They were a little more clinical in the second half.
For their part, Muir showed determination and no little skill in fighting what was almost exclusively a rearguard action. Their Fijian winger Apenai Kororua jumped out the defensive line on more than one occasion to prevent a Heriots’ try. Andy Rose, the Muir skipper, earned several a precious turnovers, including one six inches from his own try line and Ed Farquharson and Johnny Latta combined to hold Jason Hill up when the home No.8 had barrelled his way over the line. Heriots’ flanker Jack Turley was stretching for the line when he had the ball kicked out of his grasp. It was desperate defence.
Graham Wilson had opened the scoring with a brace of penalties for Heriots but in their first meaningful attack of the afternoon the visitors scored a cracker of a try, totally against the run of play. They got hands on the ball and worked their way upfield until scrum-half Johnny Adams fed Rose who found Graeme Blackhall on his inside shoulder and the stand-off made the 20 remaining metres to the try line, if only just. Muir scored the first try of the game and claimed the last, but nothing else in between.
Heriots responded in good fashion with a long distance effort from Liam Steele after the terrier-like Muir defence stood off him and allowed the centre to weave his way in from 40 yards out.
That try on the 30-minute mark was followed by another five-pointer almost as soon as the second half got under way. This time a long series of attacks on the Boroughmuir line ended with Heriots’ skipper Turley finding a hole in the defence.
That was the cue for Muir to showcase the best of themselves, aided by an injury to Heriots’ lock Russell Nimmo and a yellow card for Heriot’s prop Cessford.
Up front, Joni Hare and Adam Best carried the ball into the heart of the home defence, centre Mark Hare found gaps in the Heriots’ midfield and, winning an equal share of possession for the first time in the match, Boroughmuir set up camp inside the opposition 22 as the match moved into the final quarter.
Ian Martin butchered an opportunity to add to Muir’s score when the replacement full-back sent a penalty sailing wide of the uprights, but Muir continued to press hard and all their considerable efforts were eventually rewarded when flanker Craig Keddie scored his side’s second try inside the final five minutes.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Keddie’s score was sandwiched by two others from the home team. Heriots’ third touchdown went to Steele, who finished off a move he also started with Simpson doing all the legwork in between times. The fourth and final touchdown went to Wilson with the last move of the match after the scrum-half was sent over the line by skipper Turley. Wilson jumped up to convert his own score and Heriots will reflect on a successful afternoon’s work.
Scorers: Heriot’s: Tries: Steele (2), Turley, Wilson. Cons: Wilson 4. Pens: Wilson 2. Boroughmuir: Tries: Blackhall, Keddie. Con: Martin.
Heriot’s: Simpson, Goudie, Steele, Carmichael, Boisseau; Edwards, Wilson; Borel, McGregor, Cessford, Nimmo, Cogley, Turley, McClean, Hill. Subs: Couper, Cameron, Sinclair, Buchan, McNeish.
Boroughmuir: Farquarson, Hunter, Hardie, M Hare, Kororua; Blackhall, Adams; Wilson, Davies, Latta, Sutton, Best, Keddie, J Hare, Rose. Subs: Bingham, Wallace, Hamblin, Johnson, Martin.
Referee: C Rudkin.