1st XV vs Heriot’s: Match Report
If, after our opening Premier 2 fixture (when we struggled to beat Falkirk), we had been offered the chance to play for a place in the new Premier 1 with games against the likes of Hawks, Heriot’s and Accies, we would have bitten your hand off.
Such has been the performance of our team this season that we not only welcomed these games but thought we might win them.
On Saturday, chickens came home to roost, although everyone can take great credit for the strides we have made this season and the respect we have earned from our peers. But, in the final analysis, the league table doesn’t lie, and Premier 1 is a bridge too far for our young team.
Heriot’s knew they had been in a game, however, and there were plenty of nerves from the men in blue and white in the first half and a lot of anxious ‘Nails’ in the crowd. The crowd was swollen by a noisy Stew Mel contingent and it was good to see that traditional rivalry has a place in the modern club game.
Although we started brightly, we gave Heriot’s a couple of obvious penalties, and their captain, Wilson – a tidy player – made no mistake to give Heriot’s a six point advantage. Mike Hanning managed to charge down a Heriot’s clearance, and, although it looked as if the chance had gone, Harry Boisseau managed to squeeze in at the corner.
Heriot’s then kicked another penalty as we lost Sangster to the bin. About this time we lost Kaide Whiting with a head knock – which was a shame, as he has, in the last couple of games, shown his undoubted ability and looked well ‘up for the scrap’. Scott Riddell took over at scrum half but his service was always going to suffer by comparison. Christy O’Donnell took Scott’s place in the centre.
We therefore lost Scott from the centre and Kaide injured – two of our best attacking threats.
The next score was unlucky. We were a man down in the scrum and Heriot’s went for the push over; if the Heriot’s number 8 had kept bound, they would have scored, but he elected to pick up, and knocked on. The referee had seemingly already made up his mind, however, and awarded a penalty try. 16 points to 5 did not reflect the possession or the game at half time – indeed, in the period before and after half time, we were the stronger side, with George Turner, Donald and Phil Hendry in the mood.
The second half started with Mike kicking a penalty as Heriot’s lost a player to the bin. As we tried to make use of the extra man, Learmonth broke away and scored for Heriot’s. Back we came, and Harry, eager for the ball, managed to bustle his way over in the corner.
Mike missed a penalty chance, but Heriot’s had the winning post in sight and started to play a bit. Gregor Lawson seemed to organise things well for them in the backs and was rewarded with two tries. The mist rolled in as Heriot’s played out time, and two converted tries in the last ten minutes made the final scoreline a bit flattering. Although, through gritted teeth, it has to be admitted that their pack eventually took control and that Fraser Brown is a player.
Christy and Neil tackled well in the centre, Liam took a bit of stopping and Harry, if he can stay injury free, is a terrific player. Angus and Willie fought to the end in the scrum.
Our thoughts now turn to next year as we look to build on what we have achieved. There will be 18 league games, the same as this year, with clashes against Watsonians, Hawick and Hawks to look forward to. See you then!
Home Coach’s Comment
Couldn’t find any Nails in the mist for a comment.
Bruce MacNaughton (Stewart’s Melville)
(Comments removed by Moderator for fear of offending our near neighbours.)
Many thanks to Gav for all the great match reports he has filed for the website this season – hope we can look forward to more of the same next season! Bill