DEFENDING champions Heriot’s issued a warning to their title rivals when they took all five points from an entertaining encounter against a very useful Currie side at Goldenacre yesterday.
It was the first time since the arrival of Phil Smith and Steve Lawrie as coaches four seasons ago that Heriot’s have started the league campaign with a win. The quality of the rugby on show was further evidence that club rugby is thriving on the pitch, although a disappointing attendance suggested that there is work to do to promote the game at this level.
Understandably, Smith was delighted with the outcome, saying: “I thought we were good and that was particularly pleasing because they are a good team. We created some fantastic chances and I think we should probably have had more than four tries.”
His Currie counterpart Ben Cairns was disappointed but not disheartened by the outcome, saying: “We just made too many errors to give ourselves a chance of winning the game. In a strange way we can take confidence from that.”
And acknowledging the superiority of the home side in key facets of the game, he added: “The difference was that they held the ball better than we did which allowed them to create more chances and put the pressure on us.”
The match was contested at a ferocious intensity by two teams intent on playing a fast, open brand of rugby. The sides met on four occasions last season – two league matches, a cup tie and the Premiership play-off semi-finals – and Heriot’s won by a small margin on each occasion. With both sides going into this encounter on the back of good performances the previous weekend, there was every reason to believe that it would be another tight affair.
So it proved for much of the game although the hosts capitalised on a mounting error count by Currie in the second half to emerge worthy winners. Currie’s direct running and pace of attack caused problems for the home defence while the Heriot’s style was more structured and ultimately that more patient approach made the difference to the outcome.
Heriot’s bolted from the blocks and applied sustained pressure to an unyielding Currie defence. A close-range penalty for the hosts should have produced three points but instead they opted to tap and go and the alert Ruaridh Smith intercepted then raced the length of the field for a try which Joe Reynolds converted.
The visitors struck again from long range three minutes later, skipper Ross Weston breaking from deep and feeding inside to Reynolds who completed the job but missed with the conversion attempt.
Currie lost Ruaridh Young to the sin bin for entering from the side and Heriot’s profited from his absence when they won a lineout on the right flank and shipped the ball along the line to Charlie Simpson who broke one tackle and raced in for an unconverted score.
The fightback was complete in 33 minutes when another lineout was the platform for a rumble towards the Currie line, allowing Struan Dewar to apply the final touch. Graham Wilson squared matters with the conversion then edged the champions into a half-time lead when he slotted an injury-time penalty.
Heriot’s moved up a gear at the start of the second period and they added to their points tally when, after a series of phases, the ball was worked wide to Dewar who squeezed in at the corner to extend the lead to eight points.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the intensity dipped as the clock ticked towards the final quarter, but it was the hosts who continued to enjoy the bulk of the pressure, aided by a series of steals at the Currie lineout.
The hosts made the game safe with 12 minutes to play – slick ball transfer following a lineout freeing Simpson to race in for his second touchdown of the afternoon.
Scorers: Heriot’s, Tries – Simpson (2), Dewar (2), Con – Wilson, Pen – Wilson. Currie, Tries – Smith, Reynolds, Con – Reynolds.
Heriot’s: C Simpson, H Boisseau, L Steele, C Ferguson, M Learmonth, S Edwards, G Wilson, M McCallum, M Liness, S Cessford, R Nimmo, R Van Heerden, J Turley, S Dewar, J Hill. Subs Used: S Mustard, J Syme, C Mulligan, T Wilson, A Matthews
Currie: R Young, R Smith, F Efthymiou, J Reynolds, B Robbins, J Semple, C Shiel, J cox, M Goodwin, A Hamilton, M Vernel, L Crosbie, T Brooke, T Gordon, R Weston. Subs Used: P Mundell, AP McWilliam, H Bain, R Snedden, R Nelson
Referee: M Adamson