Ra­solea runs riot but praise must be held for hosts’ guile

The Herald - Herald Sport - - RUGBY UNION -

THE sec­ond half of the club sea­son is un­der­way al­ready, and the Premier­ship ta­ble now has a fa­mil­iar look to it. He­riot’s lost their first game of the campaign to Wat­so­ni­ans and strug­gled to find consistency in the en­su­ing weeks, but in Satur­day’s re­verse fix­ture they were far too strong for their cap­i­tal ri­vals and are now back in the kind of form that won them the league and the cup last sea­son.

Ed­in­burgh pro­fes­sional Ju­nior Ra­solea helped give the home side the phys­i­cal edge in this 10-try tri­umph, but it would be wrong to sin­gle any­one out from an all-round team per­for­mance. Wrong, too, to over-em­pha­sise phys­i­cal­ity, be­cause the in­tel­li­gent run­ning and pass­ing of backs such as Char­lie Simp­son was just as im­por­tant as the dom­i­nant dis­play of for­wards like Michael Malt­man and Struan De­war.

All four of those play­ers were ab­sent from the early games, and, while Ra­solea may be only an oc­ca­sional con­trib­u­tor, the other three will be vi­tal com­po­nents as Phil Smith’s team aim to re­tain their ti­tle. So too will winger John Rae, scorer of the first two tries, and lock Rus­sell Nimmo, who claimed the next two from li­ne­out drives as He­riot’s se­cured the bonus point with only 25 min­utes played.

By that time Mar­cus di Rollo, Wat­so­ni­ans’ head coach, had been sent to the stand af­ter what ap­peared to be a dis­pute with an as­sis­tant ref­eree over pre­cisely how close to the touch­line he should be al­lowed to stand. Things got worse for the vis­i­tors as Harry Bois­seau and Malt­man added tries be­fore the break, and although An­gus Duck­ett opened Wat­so­ni­ans’ ac­count just be­fore half-time any thought of a come­back had long since dis­ap­peared.

“The first half was al­most a com­plete per­for­mance, apart from the try [for Wat­so­ni­ans] at the end,” Smith said af­ter­wards. “It was great. My rugby hero is Andy Irvine, and at half-time he walked past me and said that was the best half of rugby he’d seen here in Scot­land for years. And it was. Some of it was sub­lime. So I’ll take that.”

The sec­ond half was marginally less one-sided, and fur­ther tries from Craig Borth­wick and Nathan Borel gave the score a sem­blance of re­spectabil­ity for Wat­so­ni­ans. But Simp­son scored first in that sec­ond pe­riod, Nimmo com­pleted his hat-trick, and Ra­solea added two more to take the He­riot’s try ac­count into dou­ble fig­ures. “We’ve slowly worked to­wards get­ting this group to­gether, do­ing the right things, and do­ing them more of­ten,” Smith added. “It’s a case of keep­ing it go­ing. The league is set up that you go week to week just try­ing to make sure you keep at boil­ing point. Be­cause if you do, you’re go­ing to be in with a shout.”

The league takes a three-week break af­ter Satur­day, but He­riot’s have a two-leg tie against Italy’s Un­der-23s to look for­ward to, with the away game in Mi­lan on 11 Novem­ber fol­lowed by the re­turn at Gold­e­nacre eight days later. Hav­ing been short of match prac­tice back in Au­gust, they should re­sume com­pe­ti­tion in De­cem­ber at peak sharp­ness. “We had a good start, but then let them get too much mo­men­tum,” was the ver­dict of Si­mon Tay­lor, Wat­so­ni­ans’ as­sis­tant coach. “We fell off tack­les, they got their of­fload­ing game go­ing, and they ended up look­ing like the Har­lem Glo­be­trot­ters. We just couldn’t find a way of nip­ping their mo­men­tum in the bud. They’ve been at this level for a num­ber of years. We’re try­ing to get to it. There’s a lot to take away from it.”

He­riot’s re­main ten points off the top, but the re­sult has ce­mented their sta­tus in­side the top four, and on this form they will be for­mi­da­ble op­po­nents for Ayr when the pair meet at Mill­brae on Satur­day. Ayr are sec­ond af­ter their 41-32 win at Cur­rie, while Mel­rose are ahead of them on points dif­fer­en­tial only fol­low­ing their 45-12 win at Bor­ough­muir. Glas­gow Hawks, 50-24 win­ners against Gala, are three points be­hind the top two.

The mar­gin of de­feat for Wat­so­ni­ans was iden­ti­cal to that of one of their most cel­e­brated vic­to­ries at Gold­e­nacre, the 43-0 win back in 1995 when they were build­ing a squad that would go on to be­come cham­pi­ons three years later. On its first sea­son back in the top flight, the cur­rent squad has the more modest aim of a solid mid-ta­ble fin­ish, and it has the ta­lent to achieve that.

The prob­lem is, how­ever, that in such a tight di­vi­sion with very lit­tle be­tween four or five clubs, it could take no more than a slight loss of form for any one of those clubs to slip from just out­side the cham­pi­onship play-off places into the rel­e­ga­tion play-off slot. To avoid such a fate, Wat­so­ni­ans need to en­sure they beat at least some of the four clubs be­low them in the com­ing weeks, start­ing on Satur­day when Haw­ick visit. The Border­ers stay last af­ter Stir­ling County’s 43-30 win.

VIENNESE WHIRL: Andy Mur­ray moved one step closer to be­com­ing world No.1 by beat­ing Jo-Wil­fried Tsonga 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) in the fi­nal of the Erste Bank Open in Vi­enna yes­ter­day. The vic­tory is Mur­ray’s third con­sec­u­tive ti­tle af­ter re­cent suc­cesses in...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.