Heriot’s coach Phil Smith was happy to see his men continue their upward trajectory when they chalked up a 23-16 win over Boroughmuir in Saturday’s BT Premiership clash at Meggetland.
But Smith was less satisfied with the manner in which it was achieved and will be looking for a substantial improvement when Glasgow Hawks visit Goldenacre on Saturday.
“I was expecting more. When we saw what we could do first half, I thought there was a lot more in the game for us”, said Smith. “We were probably disappointed not to get more points and even to give them a bonus was kind of frustrating. But, we have now picked up a couple of wins back to back and that will be a big confidence booster.”
However, Smith is pleased that his squad is now beginning to gel. Indeed, he is enjoying the challenge of rebuilding his unit following the departure of several key men.
“It’s like starting from four years ago again – it feels like year one”, he added. “That keeps you motivated. It’s not the same old stuff every day.”
The current champions lost their opening two matches but have now posted victories on successive weekends and occupy fifth spot in the league table. Saturday’s win was built on the strength of the Heriot’s pack, greater urgency at the breakdown, and an impressive contribution from half backs Andrew Simmers and Alex Hagart.
Hagart, the stand off, opened the scoring with a fourth-minute penalty and went on to produce an impressive performance from the kicking tee. However, there is much more to the 23-year-old’s game than an accurate boot and he also stood out for his game management and ability to spot a gap.
Dougie Steele cancelled out Hagart’s early three points, but a try by Murray McCallum plus a conversion and two more penalties from Hagart gave the visitors a 16-6 interval lead, Steele having booted a second penalty for Muir.
The home full-back cut the deficit to seven points when he stroked over his third penalty, but Heriot’s responded with a period of sustained pressure that should have yielded more than the converted penalty try that came after a powerful drive following a close range lineout.
Muir have made a habit of finishing games strongly and Saturday’s game was another example of the fitness that enables them to raise the pace in the closing stages. However, all they could manage was a touchdown by Jamie Scott which Steele converted to garner a narrow defeat bonus point.
The Meggetland players are a joy to watch when they run from all areas of the field, but it can be less easy on the eye for the Muir management team at times of excessive adventure. Backs coach Johnny Else is delighted to see his players have confidence to attack, but admits that he would prefer greater caution at times.
“When we go, we are very good with ball in hand and that’s how the boys want to play. But we have to manage that”, he said. “We are not quite there yet, but there is potential.
“We need to get out of our half a bit more and play rugby in the opposition territory instead of in our own half.”
Elsewhere, Currie staged a spectacular late fightback to post a first win of the campaign, edging out Stirling County 27-24 at Malleny Park. The hosts, with a try from Graeme Carson and a Jamie Forbes penalty, trailed 24-8 with 15 minutes to play. But, although results may not have gone their way, the character of the Currie squad has never been doubted. And Thomas Gordon and Cammy Gray, who maintained his try a game record for the season, dotted down, then the hosts snatched the win in the final minute when Charlie Shiel darted in.
Meanwhile, Watsonians surrendered their unbeaten run when they succumbed to Glasgow Hawks 48-20. The Capital side had tries by Mark Bertram, Neil Cochrane and Angus Duckett plus five points from the boot of Joe Helps. However, indiscipline proved to be decisive, with the first of Hawks’ seven tries coming while the Myreside men had Shaun Ruwers and Scot McLeod in the sin bin.