He­riot’s avenge semi-fi­nal loss to cruise to vic­tory at Haw­ick



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’

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