Heriot’s coach Phil Smith accused Currie of gamesmanship after an intense Premiership rugby clash at Goldenacre ended 27-27 with almost as many yellow cards (4) as tries (5).
Controversy flared as Smith insisted a potentially match-winning conversion by skipper Graham Wilson with two minutes remaining should have been re-taken because of shouts from Currie players attempting to charge down the kick.
But Currie coach Ally Donaldson hit back in suggesting that referee Kevin White had been “conned” into sending a player from the wrong side to the sin-bin in a key moment.
Ultimately a draw was fair in a match where Heriot’s seemed the more satisfied to the extent of kicking into touch for a draw to end the contest. And although the incidents highlighted were significant talking points, the game was played in excellent spirit with some outstanding individual displays, notably Jamie Forbes and Johnny Gray for Currie while back rowers Jason Hill and Fraser Brown excelled for Heriot’s.
As for the late conversion, all that was audible from the stand was a shout of “go” as Currie prepared to try to charge down the conversion of Max Nimmo’s equalising try but Smith, much closer to the action, was adamant that Wilson had been distracted.
“They were shouting and screaming when Graham Wilson was taking the last conversion. They were making noises as he was kicking the goal for what would have been a brilliant win for us.
“I’d argue the kick should have been re-taken. The players as they ran out shouted, not at him (Wilson), but they were shouting. When they were down to 13 men they took a minute to walk half the length of the pitch to take a kick off (but) that’s an aside, the game was good,” said Smith.
Asked about the conversion incident Currie coach Donaldson said: “If that happens the ref will deal with it. We have a few mumps and moans as well about what went on there but you just have to take them on the chin and move on.
“The second sin-binning was frustrating. It probably should have been a penalty to us and a card to Fraser Brown for lying there and not rolling away.
“He conned the ref a wee bit and got a penalty for his team and our boy yellow carded.”
Where the coaches agreed was over the performance of Jamie Forbes whose touchline conversion of a try by Alan Whittingham to put Currie 20-19 ahead on the hour was just one crucial aspect of a notable all-round display.
Smith admitted: “Jamie’s footwork and ability to beat people is outstanding.”
As for Hill and Brown the coach expects them also to be in contention for club international honours this season and, explaining the decision to settle for the draw by kicking to touch when in possession, Smith said: “Two points against a team like Currie who could well be in title contention gives us an edge going into the second half of the season. It’s something to build on.”
Currie have jumped to second albeit Melrose and Gala have games in hand and Donaldson, whose team picked up injuries to Ally Hamilton and Simeon James after Brian Morrissey was stretchered off for Heriot’s, managed to be philosophical.
“Heriot’s are a good team. To score three tries including one when we were down to 13 men . . . it’s not a defeat.”
Heriot’s regularly bullied Currie up front and drew first blood with the first of five penalties from Wilson before Forbes converted an Adam Hinds try and added two penalties as Currie continually got in behind the home defence.
Marc Teague became the initial sin-binning but in his absence Heriot’s cut the deficit to 9-13 at the interval which arrived with Simon Marcell serving a ten-minute sanction.
On the restart Heriot’s forged ahead through a Wilson penalty and Hill try as Ross Weston quickly followed Ally Hamilton into the bin, and when Currie weathered that storm to lead through Whittingham’s try the impetus lay with them.
Wilson again put Heriot’s ahead but a Gray try made it 27-22 for the visitors only for Nimmo to rumble over as a prelude to some heated and sustained debate surrounding a failed conversion attempt midway between the posts and touchline.
Heriot’s: Tries: Hill, Nimmo. Conversion: Wilson. Penalties: Wilson (5)
Currie: Tries: Hinds, Whittingham, Gray. Conversions: Forbes (3). Penalties: Forbes (2).
Heriot’s: C Goudie, M Teague, M Learmonth, R Carmichael, A Scott, G Wilson (captain), S Hidalgo-Clyne, C Owenson, K Bryce, S Cessford, R Nimmo, B Morrisey, F Brown, J Hill, C Mulligan. Subs: G Cameron, C Osazuwa, J Nayacavou, O Brown, N Alston.
Currie: J Forbes, A Hinds, J Johnstone, J Houston, A Whittingham, S James, A Binikos, A Hamilton, F Scott, F Watts, J Gray, S Marcell, M Cairns (captain), R Weston, M Entwhistle. Subs: R Merrilees, J Cox, G Temple. M Peacock, F Strachan.
Referee: K White (Edinburgh).