Heriot’s back row Jason Hill has warned the Goldenacre club’s BT Premiership rivals that there is still more to come after the defending champions turned on the style to notch a 25-12 win over Currie.
A high intensity encounter on Saturday featured some entertaining rugby from both sides, but it was the greater patience and ability to build phases that saw Heriot’s launch their campaign with a victory.
For Hill, it was a return to the club after a summer spent training with Glasgow Warriors and appearances in the professional team’s pre-season matches against Clermont Auvergne and Canada. The 25-year-old whose injury-time try against Melrose in the play-off final clinched the title last season, was delighted with his return to familiar territory.
“It’s good to be back with the guys. It was good to get the buzz and good to get our first win,” he said before pointing to the benefits of being a full-time rugby player. “In terms of fitness, I am in the best condition I have been in, I have been running all the time because I want to be able to carry my weight. I feel really fit. I thought before that I had been in good condition but doing pre-season with a pro team has done me a lot of good.
“In terms of my game, I focus on more detail now and that definitely helps me on the pitch, being there and actually doing something instead of just being there.”
Hill featured in a powerful back-row trio alongside skipper Jack Turley and former sevens internationalist Struan Dewar who has returned to the club this season to form an impressive unit that was the platform for the victory.
Heriot’s had to show all of their battling qualities after falling behind to a Currie side bristling with pace out wide – Ben Robbins looked sharp and strong and fellow winger Ruaridh Smith displayed his blistering speed to sprint the length of the field for an interception try, converted by Joe Reynolds, who then raced in for a second try that left the visitors 12-0 up with only six minutes on the clock.
The hosts refused to panic and led 15-13 at half-time after bagging tries from Charlie Simpson and Dewar plus a conversion and penalty by Graham Wilson. Further scores by Dewar and Simpson sealed the bonus-point victory – the first win on opening for Heriot’s coaches Phil Smith and Steve Lawrie in their four seasons at the helm.
Hill knows that opponents are desperate to topple Heriot’s, but insists the champions will improve over the coming weeks.
“Everybody knows there is a target on their back but they are thriving on it. We just want to kick on,” he added before pointing to the squad’s determination to raise standards when he stated: “There is a really professional outlook on things and everybody just wants to get better. We know that Stevie Lawrie will have everybody working hard on Tuesday – our tackles can be lower and a lot more effective. We can start a lot better.”
Currie, who had been outstanding in beating Stirling County seven days earlier, were exposed by a team with greater structure. That was disappointing for coach Ben Cairns, who felt his men had fallen short of their potential, saying: “If we had come and given our all and executed, I couldn’t have faulted the boys but it was a performance where we didn’t string enough together to put them under pressure.”
Heriot’s: Tries: Simpson (2), Dewar (2). Con: Wilson. Pen: Wilson.
Currie: Tries: Smith, Reynolds. Con: Reynolds.
Heriot’s: C Simpson, H Boisseau, L Steele, C Ferguson, M Learmonth, S Edwards, G Wilson, M McCallum, M Liness, S Cessford, R Nimmo, R Van Heerden, J Turley, S Dewar, J Hill. Subs Used: S Mustard, J Syme, C Mulligan, T Wilson, A Matthews
Currie: R Young, R Smith, F Efthymiou, J Reynolds, B Robbins, J Semple, C Shiel, J Cox, M Goodwin, A Hamilton, M Vernel, L Crosbie, T Brooke, T Gordon, R Weston. Subs Used: P Mundell, AP McWilliam, H Bain, R Snedden, R Nelson.
Referee: M Adamson.