Both head coaches agreed that this is something we could see more of in the future after Heriot’s and Currie Chieftains played out the first ever BT Premiership fixture indoors yesterday.
With the bad weather coming in during the week, Heriot’s moved quickly to book the full size pitch at Oriam on the outskirts of Edinburgh to make sure that the derby clash went ahead.
Currie were more than happy to oblige and, with little other live sport on in the local area, a decent crowd was at the facility at Heriot-Watt’s Riccarton campus.
The artificial surface certainly helped both sides play the fast-paced, running rugby that they like to and the first half was “blink and you missed it” stuff.
In the second half Currie eventually pulled away against a tiring Heriot’s side to record an impressive 47-19 “away” win and guarantee themselves a home semi-final in the play-offs for the title. The defeat for Heriot’s means that their play-off dreams are over and it will be Melrose, Currie, Watsonians and Ayr involved in the post-regular season battle for the top flight trophy.
After the match, Currie head coach Ben Cairns said: “For us it was great to be involved in a game on a surface like this.
“If you look at the way we like to play the game and the speed we have in our outside backs, especially with Harvey Elms and Ratu Tagive available, then this type of pitch can help us.
“It was in midweek when I first heard that Heriot’s were proposing that we play the game at Oriam. They had booked it on standby having seen the long-term forecast and we wanted to play.
“If I’m honest, I’d rather the game was played on a grass pitch because that is what the guys are used to, however, as I said this surface at Oriam does suit our style.
“The other thing is, if we hadn’t played the game then ourselves and Heriot’s would have been playing on March 17, the day after we would both have players in the Scotland Club XV squad, so it made sense to play.
“I think the fans saw an entertaining game and it is something that could happen again.”
While obviously disappointed at the end result, Heriot’s head coach Phil Smith said his players “enjoyed” playing indoors.
“Part of moving the game was that we want club players to be able to watch Scotland play on March 17 and obviously playing here has not paid off for us in the end, but we manufactured the loss with our mistakes,” he said.
“The guys enjoyed playing here, there was a great crowd out and the conditions are perfect because nothing can affect either team.
“Maybe in the future we will see back-to-back games being played at Oriam on weekends when the whole fixture card is wiped out.
“It is a fantastic facility. I would certainly say to people our experience here was a positive one.”
In the game Currie got off to a good start, but it was Heriot’s who struck first.
In the 15th minute of the match they scored a pushover try from back-row Iain Wilson and although it was not converted they were 12-0 up just before the end of the first quarter.
After some good hands, winger Rob Kay went over and full-back Ross Jones converted for 12-0.
The Currie fightback began 11 minutes from the break with a try by co-captain Fergus Scott which scrum-half Charlie Shiel converted.
They were 14-12 up five minutes before the interval when Shiel scored a converted try of his own and then a third score by full-back Ben Robbins made it 19-12 to the visitors.
Into the second half and Currie took control of this one.
Robbins bagged his second and then second-row Mike Vernel’s try made it 33-12 after 49 minutes.
Heriot’s heads started to go down and a second Shiel effort and then a third by Robbins made it 47-12 still with 20 minutes to play.
Liam Steele and Callum Mackintosh were then yellow-carded for both sides before Heriot’s got a consolation score through back-row Michael Maltman, but it was Currie’s day.