Heriot's hold off Boroughmuir to retain play-off place

Heriot's coach Phil Smith admitted that the result was more important than the performance in a hard-fought Edinburgh derby. But he was delighted at the way his players held off a strong second-half effort from their city rivals to remain in a BT Premiership play-off spot with five matches left, writes Colin Renton.

Disappointed Boroughmuir players leave the field at Goldenacre. Picture: Scott Louden.

“We need to defend this title for as long as we can and if we had been beaten it would have been really tough,” said Smith, who believed that his side could have recorded a more comfortable win if they had capitalised on their first-half superiority.

As it was, the champions failed to finish off the chances that came their way and led only 13-0 at the interval, with Clarke Smith touching down after 14 minutes and Alex Hagart, who had earlier kicked two penalties, adding the conversion.

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Boroughmuir finished the half strongly but failed to convert pressure into points. A Tristan King try early in the second half gave them hope but, as the game opened up, Callum Marshall extended the Heriot’s lead when he crashed over for a try. Callum Atkinson then dotted down for the visitors and Chris Laidlaw converted. The response came in the form of a Michael Maltman touchdown.

That should have made the win safe but there was time for Grant McConnell to sprint in for a try. The winger’s score sparked a desperate injury-time finale as Boroughmuir chased victory. But the home side held on for a result that means they remain fourth in the table.

Smith conceded that it was not his side’s best performance but he was happy with the way his players managed to grind out the win.

“It’s league rugby. It’s tough. We’ve got young boys making errors and you’ve got to live with it. We’ve just got to do more good things next week,” he said.

Smith’s counterpart Peter Wright had hoped for more from his men, saying: “We got a point out of it but I’m disappointed.”

Wright’s main frustration was the slow start to the match. “We weren’t really in it in the first 20 minutes. In the second half, we came out and showed a bit of character,” he added. “You could argue that was a fair result but we got ourselves into a position where we could have won it and 
that’s what is really disappointing.”