Cup minnows are thwarted as Premiership teams progress
THERE were no real upsets in round three of the BT Cup on Saturday afternoon, with all four of the Premiership clubs who had been pitted against lower league opposition helping themselves to fairly comfortable victories.
Holders Heriot’s powered to a 14-36 triumph over Kirkcaldy at wet, windy and sometimes snowy Beveridge Park thanks to tries from Michael Maltman, Charlie Simpson, Tom Wilson, Ali Johnstone, Martin Hughes and Martin Scade, plus three conversions from John Semple.
However, touchdowns for the hosts from Owen Bonner and Conner Wood, both converted by Craig Letham, ensured that this was not a walkover, and victorious coach Phil Smith paid tribute to the National Two side afterwards for their efforts.
“It was just one of those afternoons that make you glad you are involved in Scottish club rugby. The weather might have been diabolical but Kirkcaldy pushed out all the stops. They had a full house for lunch before the match, they advertised that we were bringing the Bill McLaren Shield so we were able to show that off, there was a big crowd at the game and there was a great atmosphere afterwards,” he said.
Heriot’s might have been in control from the moment they grabbed their first try inside the opening five minutes, but Smith insisted that his players knew they had been in a real contest.
Ayr wasted little time shaking the effects of a long bus journey north to play Aberdeen Grammar out of their legs, racing to a 0-32 half-time lead, and then seeing off a minor second half fightback for a 12-51 final score-line.
Stirling’s forward power, and particularly their set-piece dominance, was key in a 12-38 win over Dundee High at Mayfield.
“We had a few errors in the first-half, which was understandable considering the conditions – but we spoke about it at the break and we came out and played a bit smarter, kept it tight and kicked at the right times,” said Stirling head coach David Adamson.
“We were looking at past results and it [the cup] isn’t something we have traditionally done particularly well in. Obviously we still want to push on in the league, but the cup is something we feel we can do well in,” he added.
Perhaps the best opportunity for an upset was at Meggetland where Premiership strugglers Boroughmuir took on an Edinburgh Accies side currently sitting second in National One and well on course for a promotion play-off against the second bottom team in the top flight – which could very easily see the same two sides meeting again at the end of the campaign.
While the home team struggled at times to cope with their opponents’ powerful pack, and their head coach Peter Wright insisted afterwards that he was disappointed with the team’s performance, they still had too much all-round class in the end, running out 40-17 winners.
“I thought Accies defended really well. They put us under loads of pressure and we just didn’t play the right game. We got too involved in a forward battle.
“We’re happy at getting through but a bit disappointed with the performance,” he added.
With Jed-Forest being awarded a walkover when Aberdeenshire called off due to a lack of front-row players, the other three matches in this round were all-Premiership affairs.
Currie and Watsonians pushed Melrose and Glasgow Hawks, respectively, all the way – but in the end the final result went with the home team.
The only instance in which the outcome did not correspond to league ranking was at Netherdale, where Premiership basement boys Gala defeated second bottom Hawick 23-15. The two sides meet again when league action resumes in two weekends’ time in a match which looks almost certain to decide which club is automatically relegated from the Premiership.
Having already beaten Hawick once in the league and now once in the cup already this year, the Maroons will go into that match with confidence – but this time their great rivals will have home advantage, and with the talismanic skipper Bruce McNeil and classy stand-off Rory Hutton likely to be available to take a full part in the contest for the Greens it promises to be classic, tense Border derby.
GOOD DAY: Michael Maltman touched down in Heriot’s win over Kirkcaldy