Cup min­nows are thwarted as Premier­ship teams progress

The Herald - Herald Sport - - RUGBY UNION - DAVID BARNES

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

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