Heriot’s coach Phil Smith has hailed the maturity of his players after seeing his Goldernacre men score eight tries to edge closer to securing a home play-off in the Tennent’s Premiership.
Smith’s side shrugged off difficult conditions to power past Stirling County 54-12 and move to within striking distance of second-placed Melrose with four matches to play before the knockout phase.
With his injury list continuing to shorten, and a break of four weeks before the action resumes with a mouth-watering derby away to Currie Chieftains, Smith is happy with the progress of his side and was particularly satisfied with the way they went about their task.
“The boys saw the conditions and probably played a grown-up game of rugby,” said Smith. “They did the proper things at the right time.”
Another pleasing aspect for the coach was the fact that each of the eight touchdowns was scored by a different player.
Adam Sinclair set the ball rolling and, despite playing into the worst of the conditions, the bonus point was secured by half-time after Andrew Simmers, Rob Kay and Struan Cessford added their names to the scoresheet, with Ross Jones booting three conversions for a 26-12 interval lead.
Further tries by Martin Bouab, Alex Ball, Josh Scott and Charlie Simpson added gloss in the second half, with Jones converting all four.
“I think the first half was better than the second because it was really difficult to play out of our own half in those conditions,” said Smith.
Watsonians moved into the play-off places after squeezing past Hawick 13-12 at Mansfield Park. The victory capped a fantastic week for Sonians coach Steve Lawrie who was confirmed as coach of the Myreside men’s Super Six franchise. Lawrie will take a sabbatical from his teaching job to focus on setting up the semi-professional squad.
In the meantime, he will focus on mounting a challenge in the Premiership. In only his second season as head coach, he has made Sonians into a physical side that are difficult to beat.
That attribute was evident again in Saturday’s clash between two teams that battled gamely in the grim conditions. James Miller had a first-half try for Sonians. It was converted by Ewan Fox, who also landed two penalties to give the visitors a 13-7 lead at the interval. Hawick bagged their second try of the afternoon with the final play of the game, but failed with the touchline conversion.
The four league points were enough for Sonians to leapfrog Chieftains, whose match away to Glasgow Hawks suffered the same fate as the Boroughmuir against Edinburgh Accies fixture, with both falling victim to frozen pitches.
That was doubly disappointing for Chieftains coach Ben Cairns who was taking charge of the side for the final time before moving to become head coach of the Stirling County Super Six franchise at the start of next month.
Cairns, who is also at the helm of the Scotland Under-19 squad, has made impressive progress in his three and a half years in the Malleny Park set up and sees the job as a logical next move towards achieving his own career goals.
“It’s always been a big personal ambition of mine to be a full-time coach and work at the highest level I can, and I’m delighted to get this opportunity through Stirling and in Scotland,” he said. “It’s a good fit for me and I’m really honoured and excited to get the opportunity to lead them into what will be a new era for the club.”