Heriot’s coach Phil Smith insists that he was not concerned by his side’s mixed start to the BT Premiership campaign. And, with that wobble now apparently in the past, he is confident that the Goldenacre men are hitting form at the right time.
Smith concedes that the new faces took time to gel in the early part of the campaign. But he believes that his recast squad is now in good shape to secure a play-off berth.
Saturday’s 58-15 win at home to Capital rivals Watsonians offered the latest evidence that the personnel changes that were enforced by a clutch of close-season departures are no longer an issue, with Heriot’s clicking into gear to chalk up a ten-try rout.
“Knowing that we don’t need to win every game, I wasn’t panicking. We are slowly working towards getting this group together, doing the right things and doing them more often,” he said before heaping praise on his men for their showing on Saturday. “The first half was almost a complete performance apart from the try at the end.”
And the coach admitted that his delight had been enhanced by the validation of a Heriot’s legend, adding, “My rugby hero is Andy Irvine. For him at half-time to walk past and say, ‘that’s the best half of rugby I’ve seen here and in Scotland for years’ – and it was, some of it was sublime – I’ll take that.”
The effort of the Goldenacre club in setting up a fantastic day’s entertainment for the clash with their oldest city rivals paid off with a good-sized crowd. And the packed stand saw the visitors make the better start before being torn to shreds by a home side that was mightily impressive.
Doubles by John Rae and Russell Nimmo, plus one apiece from Harry Boisseau and Michael Maltman as well as two Alex Hagart conversions established a 34-0 lead before Angus Duckett clawed back five points for Sonians just before the break.
Charlie Simpson and Craig Borthwick exchanged tries before Nimmo completed his hat-trick and Edinburgh Rugby’s Junior Rasolea bagged a double, both converted by Ewan Fox, to breach the half century.
It wasn’t quite over and when Nathan Borel touched down for the visitors a four-try bonus was possible. However, it was not to be and Sonians will now focus on preparations for the arrival of Hawick for the final fixture before the break for the autumn international series.
Sonians assistant coach Simon Taylor was clearly disappointed with the performance but remains confident that the Myreside squad will bounce back over the coming weeks.
“The nice thing about this league is that every week is really tough. There are maybe two or three teams that are a bit ahead but all the other teams can beat each other. It’s nice to have that challenge every week,” he said.
Next on the agenda for Heriot’s is a trip to meet Ayr, who emerged as 41-32 winners at Currie. A Ross Weston try and two penalties by James Bywater left Currie 31-11 down at half-time and seemingly out of the contest. However, while they had left themselves too much to do, the hosts could take credit from a second-half effort that showed their battling qualities and produced two touchdowns for Ben Robbins and one for Robbie Nelson, all converted by Bywater. The pick-up in performance yielded a four-try bonus point that ensures Ben Cairns’ side remains in the hunt for a top-four spot.
Elsewhere, there was more disappointment for second-bottom Boroughmuir who had led briefly then trailed by a single point at the interval but succumbed to a second-half surge by table toppers Melrose and went down 45-12. Tries by Matt Walker and Jordan Edmunds, plus a Chris Laidlaw conversion were of little consolation to Muir, whose trip to face Stirling County on Saturday has now taken on increased importance.