Centre Keith Buchan crowned a first season at Heriot’s by helping lift the Scottish rugby Cup and immediately hailed a 31-10 victory over Glasgow Hawks at Cumbernauld as highlight of a notable sporting career so far.
A Scotland Under-16 football internationalist who was once invited to train with Hibs, this under-20 rugby cap now feels he is reaping rewards of a decision to follow the oval ball.
“To score 31 points in winning a cup was an amazing experience, quite unreal,” said Buchan, pictured in action below. “It’s topped the lot for me and the atmosphere was great on the pitch. I’ve got a few football medals in my collection but nothing at this level. I’ll talk about this for years to come.”
A schoolboy connection – he was taught at primary by Heriot’s coach Phil Smith – saw Buchan cross the Capital from Boroughmuir last summer and sights are now set on further prizes. As a consequence of a top-four league finish Heriot’s have qualified for the British and Irish Cup.
“We can use the cup win as a springboard,” said Buchan. “(Edinburgh) Accies struggled this season in that competition so we need to keep the players together. If we do that we will have good depth. Key will be a good pre-season so as to hit the B&I Cup running, but as for this latest win we knew if we could go wide we could cause them problems.”
A lack of quality scrum ball meant a third Cup triumph for Heriot’s did not come without its anxieties especially when Hawks hit back with the opening ten points of the second half to close the gap to 13-10.
All the momentum seemed to be with the Glasgow side and their dominant scrum but Buchan insisted: “We knew not to panic, 13-0 was a good half-time lead and all season we have been strong after the interval. By keeping calm and sticking to the game plan we knew we would pull through.”
Reconstruction of the Heriot’s pack also helped with replacement prop Craig Owenson, who came on just after Brendan Cullinane had muscled over for an opposition try, credited with having a significant influence by Hawks coach Jamie Dempsey. Asked whether Heriot’s had resolved scrum difficulties or if it was a case of Hawks tiring, Dempsey said: “They fully deserved their win. The scrum is one of the most contentious aspects of the game. It’s really hard to referee and I’m not going to criticise the ref.
“Their scrum improved when Owenson came on and on another day he could have been penalised. We tired as well, though. Heriot’s made more of their territory and in the end that is what separated us – that and the breakdown.”
Where Heriot’s also proved superior was in their ability to take chances never more so than with a smash-and-grab effort from 70 metres which ultimately helped earn winger Harry Boisseau a man-of-the-match tankard.
The try actually had its origins, however, in a brilliant Jason Hill tackle on Haddon McPherson which released the ball for Colin Goudie to send Boisseau on his way. Said Boisseau: “Colin is not renowned for his physicality. He danced a bit and when one of them flitted in to tackle he passed the ball on. It wasn’t really a planned move. Off the cuff is sometimes the best and I didn’t think about the line coming up to meet me. I just ran hell for leather straight for the corner.
“I’ve had a few tries this season but that is probably up there with the best.”
Although coming early it was a score fit to win any contest albeit subsequent closer range efforts from Jack Turley and Liam Steele were just as important as was the goal-kicking of Graham Wilson who landed six from eight attempts.
Heriot’s coach Phil Smith was sorry to hear the full time whistle. “I was hoping the game might go on a bit longer because we were just starting to click at full time. We were starting to show people what we are about. In the first half we didn’t get the rewards for what we had been working on all week and after that blip the team were outstanding.”
Much could depend on whether Heriot’s retain second row Murray Douglas who was magnificent in the line-out while he and Graham Wilson opened up Hawks with off-loads that would have graced the professional game.
Tries: Boisseau, Turley, Steele. Conversions: Wilson (2). Penalties: Wilson (4).
Glasgow Hawks: Try: Cullinane. Coversions: Low. Penalty: Steele.
Heriot’s: C Goudie, M Nimmo. K Buchan, C Ferguson, H Boisseau, R Carmichael, G Wilson, N Borel. K Bryce, S Mustard, R Nimmo, M Douglas, J Turley (captain), J Hill, G Turner. Subs: C Mulligan, G Cameron, C Owenson, M Maltman, OJ Brown, M Learmonth, L Steele.
Glasgow Hawks: D Smart. T Steven, A Maclay, J Steele, H Macpherson, G Lowe, P Boyer, S Findlay, F Gillies, B Cullinane, A Linton (captain), G Hamilton, S Leckey, A Kirkland, T Holmes. Subs: J Macfarlane, J Lohoar, C Williamson, M Bartoszek, K Beattie, D Milne, N Herron.
Referee: G Gordon.