Heriot’s avenge semi-final loss to cruise to victory at Hawick
HAWICK 0 HERIOT’S 11
SEVEN months after losing their cup semi final to Hawick in adverse conditions, Heriot’s returned to Mansfield Park to scotch the notion they are a topof-the-ground team by successfully coping with the weather to grind a win that consolidates their top-four position.
The lights at Mansfield Park are, shall we say, less than bright. But on a day when heavy rain-filled clouds amplified the gloom, it all felt darker than a Scandinavian noir. Yet despite the backdrop, Heriot’s in particular lit up the stage with moments of excellent handling.
And no more so than for the only try of the match, engineered by an audaciously long cut-out pass from Heriot’s stand-off Gregor McNeish that gave wing John Rae room to sprint down the left touchline. Rae was stopped by Edinburgh’s Ulster recruit Mike Allen, but in the follow-up Heriot’s centre Max Learmonth swept through to score in the corner.
“We don’t stop playing simply because it’s raining and windy,” said the Heriot’s coach, Phil Smith.
“Some of our open play in the first half was outstanding. It wasn’t just kick the ball. It was let’s have a look at them and see where we can go.”
Heriot’s also made defence work for them as Smith acknowledged.
“Defensively we were absolutely rock solid,” he said. “I think we’ve got the best defensive record in the league.
“It’s the first time Hawick have failed to score any points against us since I’ve been around.”
What was remarkable and unusual about Heriot’s win at Mansfield was that is was achieved in spite of the Goldenacre men taking a pounding in the scrums where Hawick were strengthened by the presence of the Edinburgh prop Simon Berghan.
Hawick, however, were unable to turn their set-piece superiority into points, largely because of their tendency to turn over the ball in their opponent’s 22-metre area and kick for the corner rather than attempt penalty kicks at goal in admittedly adverse conditions.
Moreover, Hawick were outweighted in the battle between the two back rows, where Heriot’s trio of Struan Dewar, Iain Wilson and Jamie Ritchie were outstanding.
Hawick’s one penalty attempt by Ally Weir sliced to the right while, in contrast, Heriot’s reliable goal kicker Graham Wilson was twice on target, the scrum half’s double contribution preventing Hawick from picking up a losing bonus point.
PHIL SMITH: The coach described Heriot’s open play as ‘outstanding’