Heriot’s hold their nerve to edge capital thriller

08/09/2018 TENNENTS PREMIERSHIP' HERIOTS v WATSONIANS (28-24)' GOLDENACRE - EDINBURGH' Heriots' Innes Hill takes the ball from the lineout
08/09/2018 TENNENTS PREMIERSHIP' HERIOTS v WATSONIANS (28-24)' GOLDENACRE - EDINBURGH' Heriots' Innes Hill takes the ball from the lineout
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Anyone at Goldenacre on Saturday afternoon might wonder what all the Super 6 fuss is about. Two good teams displayed oodles of attacking intent and plenty of skill in executing it in front of a healthy crowd on a superb surface. It was one of those rare days in rugby when both team’s offence had the better of the defence. Any side that could hold on to the ball for any length of time seemed destined to score.

The spectacle was helped by the see-saw nature of the contest and the entertainment factor boosted by a nail-biting finish. Heriot’s looked so dominant while scoring three good tries in the opening 35 minutes – efforts from wingers Jack Blain, pictured, and Craig Robertson were followed up by a penalty try – that you half wondered if Watsonians would bother coming out for the second half.

However, the visitors ended the first 40 with a flourish. In a rare sortie deep into Heriot’s territory they carved out space for the rangy full-back Josh Rowland to touch down. These seven points breathed new belief into Watsonains who picked up where they left off after the break.

Stand-off Lee Millar added three off the tee as Heriot’s discipline crumbled under pressure before winger Angus Guthrie powered over from 20 yards out. The mood music had changed and, with the Heriot’s full-back in the bin, the visitors marched a maul over the line to take the lead for the first time, with prop Jack Stanley getting the try.

Millar added the extras and Watsonians had a three-point lead well inside the final ten minutes. It wasn’t enough.

Heriot’s summoned one last hurrah. The home team held on to the ball and, helped by Watsonians’ serial indiscipline, worked their way upfield and into the opposition 22 where a second penalty try from a set scrum, with Watsonians’ skipper Craig Borthwick kicking his heels in the sin bin, earned them local bragging rights.

“We beat ourselves at the end,” said Watsonians coach Steve Lawrie, who was not wholly disheartened after departing Goldenacre with a losing bonus point. “We put in some good phases and applied pressure but there was a heavy penalty count which obviously didn’t help us.

“We gave away five or so penalties last week and won a game that we didn’t play fantastically well. We had better spells in this game but lost it because our discipline is poor.

“I think there were three or four minutes when we kicked it away. If we just hold on to it [the ball] we close the game out. They [the players] need to recognise that. We’re disappointed but I thought it was a decent enough game of rugby.”

At the end of the match, Heriot’s teenage winger Blain had his picture taken with Watsonians’ equally young flanker Conor Boyle. The pair played in the same Stewart’s Melville school team but ambition drove them to look elsewhere. Two promising young Scots lit up this match and will both be eyeing a Super 6 contract.