Heriot’s coach Phil Smith admits that his side have now lost control of their BT Premiership destiny. But, despite going down 8-5 at home to Melrose on Saturday, he is not yet ready to concede that a play-off place has gone.
Smith was frustrated in his pursuit of flowing rugby by conditions which deteriorated as the match progressed. The Heriot’s cause was not helped by spending three minutes with only 13 men, with Robert Kay completing a spell in the sin bin and Michael Maltman red-carded after the intervention of the assistant referee, who had spotted the Heriot’s flanker landing a punch as he tried to free himself from the grip of an opponent.
The hosts led 5-3 at half-time after Jason Baggott had kicked a penalty for Melrose in response to a fine opportunist try by Heriot’s hooker Michael Liness.
The weather worsened during a soggy second period, ensuring that the score remained unchanged entering the final ten minutes. However, the Borderers struck the vital blow when Grant Runciman forced his way over, and they held out in a frantic finale to clinch the win.
“I thought we were brilliant first half as far as playing the conditions was concerned, and we planned to do the same second half,” said Smith, whose men garnered a narrow-defeat bonus point that could yet prove crucial in the race with Currie for fourth spot. “It was going quite nicely and then all of the decisions started going against us.
“It’s now a three-point gap over Currie. We have to go to Stirling next week and do well. They have difficult fixtures as well against Boroughmuir and Hawks. That has taken it out of our hands a wee bit.“We are where we are. One game to go and we will just keep battering away – fingers crossed.”
Currie’s trip to face Boroughmuir was postponed because Meggetland was deemed unplayable although, just across Colinton Road, Watsonians were in action against Stirling County.
And it proved to be a successful afternoon for Sonians, who overturned a 12-8 half-time deficit to post a 15-12 win that guarantees Marcus Di Rollo’s men’s top-flight survival.
The Capital side had tries from Keith Young and Rory Drummond, the latter converted by Ewan Scott, who had scored the first points of the afternoon in 16 minutes when he landed a penalty.