There was no hiding Heriot’s captain Iain Wilson’s satisfaction after he led his men to what had seemed an unlikely 31-24 Tennent’s Premiership win over Boroughmuir at Meggetland on Saturday.
The back-rower bagged the clinching try after a second-half fightback that brought a five-point haul and keeps the Goldenacre outfit on track for a play-off place.
By contrast, the defeat means that Muir now face an uphill battle to be involved in the knockout phase of the competition. They were left ruing a poor second half that undid all of the good work they achieved in a scintillating first half.
The hosts reached the break 24-3 ahead thanks to tries by Callum Atkinson, Greg Cannie and Will Wardlaw, all converted by Robin Weersma, who also booted a penalty, while Ross Jones was on target with a three-pointer for Heriot’s.
Muir were good value for that lead, having dominated proceedings. It looked as if the visitors would struggle to take anything from the encounter.
However, Wilson and his colleagues had other thoughts and they reduced the leeway within a couple of minutes of the restart when Jack Blain touched down and Jones converted. That sparked a spell of sustained pressure that brought further scores for Michael Liness and Dougie Steele, with Jones adding the extras each time to square matters.
Wilson, whose decisive leadership had been a vital part of the rally, sealed the victory when he plunged over to secure the fourth try and the bonus point.
“To be fair, we were really positive at half-time,” said Wilson. “We said that it was our mistakes that had let them in. We were missing tackles and as soon as they were in behind us they were pretty clinical. So, we knew that if we tightened up and we just stuck to our systems we would get back into it – and that’s what happened.
“In the second half we weren’t really troubled in defence that much and we just wanted to play field position.
“We came out pretty positive after half-time and we got that early score and then momentum just built from there. We felt pretty comfortable actually. We knew as soon as we scored that we were going to be alright.”
In sharp contrast to the delight in the Heriot’s ranks, there was dismay in the Muir camp at the manner of the defeat. Home coach Peter Wright insisted that it was not the loss that rankled, but the failure to defend a substantial lead in a lacklustre second period.
“We didn’t manage the game at all in the second half. That gave Heriot’s a bit of impetus and they took the opportunity to score four tries. We have nobody to blame but ourselves,” he fumed.
Reflecting on the first half, he added, “That’s the best half we’ve played for probably two or three seasons. I thought we were really good – our go-forward was good, we were just attacking everything, then in the second half, we just didn’t manage the game.”
There was a similar tale at Malleny Park, where Currie Chieftains had the better of the first-half proceedings as they reached the break with a 26-17 lead over Melrose before allowing the Borderers to claw their way back in the second half and post a 32-31 win in a ten-try thriller.
Not only was it a first home defeat of the season for Chieftains, but the result also allowed Melrose to tighten their grip on second spot in the table, leaving Chieftains in third place and damaging their aim of securing a home draw in the knockout phase of the competition.
However, the hosts had the consolation of two bonus points, with Joe Reynolds bagging two tries while there was one apiece for Robbie Nelson, Charlie Shiel and Thomas Gordon, with Gregor Hunter landing three conversions.