Heriot’s feeling hearty as they head for Cup semi-final

Heriot's captain Jack Turley, left
Heriot's captain Jack Turley, left
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Heriot’s skipper Jack Turley is urging the side to ensure they enter the club’s annual dinner with heads held high tomorrow at the end of a day that includes a Scottish Cup semi-final at Aberdeen Grammar.

“It’s going to be a full-on day with an early drive north followed by a return soon after the final whistle,” he said.

“Whatever happens, a top- four league finish has fulfilled our goal but we do want to return to the dinner with a win that takes our season on to next month’s final,” added the 25-year-old Kiwi back row.

Due to a new pitch being laid at Murrayfield the finals day has been switched to Cumbernauld’s Broadwood Stadium where the winners of the Aberdeen v Heriot’s tie will tackle either Gala or Glasgow Hawks.

Turley says: “I won’t pretend it would be the same as running out at Murrayfield but the important thing at this stage is not to think too far ahead.

“Also, a cup success provides the same feeling regardless of where the final is played.”

Heriot’s remain not only the last Edinburgh team to reach a final but the only Capital side to have lifted the trophy in the past eight years.

“It was before I arrived that we last won the cup (with a last-minute long-range Graham Wilson penalty to beat Melrose) but Graham and other longer serving players like Stewart Mustard and Jamie Syme have been reminding the younger lads just what the build-up and the final itself means.”

As for Turley he is in no hurry to return to Auckland. “I came initially for a year in 2011 then suffered a serious injury which put me on the sidelines.

“Heriot’s stood by me and this season has been about repaying the club. There’s another three years on my ancestry visa so I just want to keep soaking up the atmosphere in Edinburgh and at the club,” he said.

It was over a year before Turley tasted defeat in a Heriot’s jersey – away to Gala in early November – and he remains something of a talisman even when they have had to dig out wins such as when Aberdeen were seen off 21-17 at Goldenacre and 21-18 up north this season.

“Aberdeen may have just been relegated but they are a far better side than results suggest,” maintains Turley, whose side has one change – Cammy Ferguson returning at centre – from last week’s defeat at Hawick.

“It wasn’t the way we wanted to sign off the league season but we caught Hawick on a day when they were fighting to stay up and maybe a few of our boys were looking ahead to the cup.

“A bump in a long league road was never going to spoil our season, though, and I’m very confident we will get through.”

Heriot’s coach Phil Smith sees little difference between a cup trip to relegated Aberdeen and the successful visit to eventual league champions Melrose in the knockout tournament.

“This is game seven for us in the cup run and our sixth away from home. The match at the Greenyards (Melrose) was hard fought and we expect the trip to Aberdeen to be very similar.”

Aberdeen coach Kevin Wyness says his team will be not only playing to extend their season but to give two stalwarts a winning send-off.

“After five years at our club Rob Aloe is returning to New Zealand and our open-side flanker Tony McGinness is heading in the same direction.

“There is a real desire to ensure they finish in style even though we lost three players injured in going down at Glasgow Hawks last week.

“There are plenty of reasons to be positive about the future and we are just going to give it a go.

“However, I’d hope weather conditions are better than when we entertained Heriot’s in the league and an ambulance had to come on to the pitch at full-time to treat a player for hypothermia!”