Heriot's 50 Edinburgh Accies 8
THIS time last year Accies claimed a win at Goldenacre to assure themselves of Premier One rugby. In perfect conditions yesterday afternoon the same two teams met in the semi-final of the Scottish Hydro Electric Cup with a very different result. Both teams dominated one half each but while Heriots gathered points with regularity, scoring seven tries in all, Accies were unable to get the score board turning while they had the whip hand in the first half and they duly paid the price.
"We enjoyed that," admitted Heriot's coach Bob McKillop, "but we have nursed a sense of frustration for the last year that we didn't produce the goods in last year's final. I am not saying that we are favourites but we are going to Murrayfield to win this one."
Heriot's looked better in almost every department. David McCall broke the defensive line without breaking sweat, Oliver Brown tightened his grip on this match and the forwards, led by an excellent backrow trio, were always in the driving seat after an tricky opening half hour.
It could have been a very different story. Accies did enough early on to suggest they could win this game, dominating territory thanks to the boot of flyhalf Ruaraidh Bonner allied to a stiff breeze, but they just could not score. Every time the visitors put the ball through their hands Heriot's centre David McCall rushed out of the line and ambushed his opposite number Rory Coupar with the result that the Accies' centre was forced to leave the field. He returned later only to get injured again; it's wasn't his or his team's day.
The two kickers traded early penalties but with the visiting flyhalf Bonner putting the ball deep in Heriot's territory, it was Accies that squandered a couple of chances to score the first try. Firstly Coupar was held up just short of the line after a scrum turnover and then his midfield partner Paul Louden ran with the ball when he might have been better shifting it to winger Tom Brown who had a clear run to the line.
Having wasted their chances, Heriot's showed them how to finish. Wilson missed a sitter of a penalty but it didn't stop his side who finally grabbed the first try just after the half hour mark. Struan Dewer was lurking on the left wing and the flanker carried the ball up to the Accies try line where winger Andrew Douglas finished off the move, ducking under the last defender.
Not to be outdone, Heriot's other flanker Chris Fusaro showed the pace that makes him a sevens specialist. He latched onto a loose kick from Bonnar around the half-way mark, stepped inside the first wave of defenders and then Fusaro showed a clean pair of heels to all the others for a second score just before the break. Having dominated the first half Accies found themselves trailing 13-3 at halt-time.
With the second half wind at his back, Wilson extended his team's lead with an early penalty and the scrum-half did even better just minutes later when he angled a grubber kick up the right touchline and his flyhalf Oliver Brown was always winning the race to the bouncing ball. With everything falling neatly into place for the home side Wilson bisected the posts with the tricky conversion.
Coupar grabbed a lonely try for Accies but Heriot's struck back when Jamie Syme took a quick lineout throw to Colin Goudie and the fullback wove his way to the Accies line without half of the opposition even noticing, never mind tackling him. The same man scored again exactly four minutes later and so too did McCall. Winger Graham Thomson finished off the try-fest as the contest disintegrated into a rout.
In a repeat of last year's final, Heriot's will meet Melrose at Murrayfield in two weeks' time. Melrose won that one but last year's results will have little bearing on this year's final, as this match proved.
Heriot's: C Goudie; G Thomson, D McCall, R Mill, A Douglas; O Brown (G Rutherford 74 min), G Wilson; A Dymock, F Gillies (M Welsh 55 min), W Blacklock, T McVie (Capt), M Reid, S Dewar, C Fusaro (S Mustard 56 min), J Syme.
Edinburgh Accies: S Walker; D Rattray, P Louden, M Coupar (J Oliphant 37 min), T Brown; R Bonner, M Campbell; N Lah, M Price, A Marsh (L Niven 55 min), G Campbell (Capt), P Jenkinson (E Stuart 55 min), C Jarvis, R Snape, T Drennan.
Scorers: Heriot's – Tries: Douglas, Fusaro, Brown, Goudie (2), McCall, Thomson. Convs: Wilson (3). Pens: Wilson (3). Accies – Try: Coupar. Pen: Campbell.
Referee: Andrew McMenemy (Gala).