A dominant display by the Heriot’s pack produced a third away win of the weekend yesterday and took the Goldenacre club to the top of the Super 6 table, ahead of Watsonians and Stirling County on points differential.
In a fairly even first half, the lead changed hands three times, but after turning round only two points adrift, Ayrshire Bulls failed to score again in a second 40 when the visitors steadily gained a stranglehold on proceedings.
Although a fairly close affair, this was still the biggest margin of victory in the new tournament’s opening round of fixtures. On Saturday, Watsonians had fought back from 13-0 down with an hour played to beat the Southern Knights 14-13 at the Greenyards, while County had got the ball rolling on Friday when they beat Boroughmuir Bears 27-24.
The only thing Ayr ‘“won” against Heriot’s was the yellow-card count, with three sinbinnings compared to the visitors’ two. They did manage something approaching parity in the lineout, but had no answer to the Heriot’s maul, which was responsible for two of their team’s three tries - one credited to Roman Seydak late in the first half, the other resulting in a penalty try early in the second.
“It’s disappointing – felt like we never really got going, to be honest,” Bulls head coach Peter Murchie said. “We were under pressure in the scrum, set piece in general was an issue, discipline was poor. They looked like a more cohesive team today.”
Heriot’s acting head coach Phil Smith was naturally far happier with an outcome which he admitted had been hard to predict. “I was delighted,” he said. “We were pretty unclear about how it was going to go or where we were.
“It was probably a little bit more than I expected, because our last two games against Ayr have been really tough. That was probably a bit more comfortable than I’d have thought.”
A Frazier Climo penalty put Ayr ahead, and it was midway through the first half before Heriot’s made their pressure tell as Iain Wilson finished off a drive with a try converted by Ross Jones.
Tyler Beary soon had the home side back in front with an interception try converted by Climo, but Jones then scored with a penalty to draw Heriot’s level at 10-10. They did not fall behind again. Seydak’s unconverted try came just after the half-hour, and although a second Climo penalty narrowed the gap just before the break, it was clear the Bulls would need to do something different to take the initiative again. In the event, they lacked either the nous or the power to do so.
The penalty try came when Heriot’s sent a penalty to touch then drove a maul to within metres of the line before it was brought down.
There was still more than half an hour to play at that point, and Smith’s team had a lot of defending to do for a good 20 minutes thereafter, but they did it with increasing confidence before Jones had the last word with a second penalty.