Heriot’s received a vote of confidence in their bid to lift the Scottish rugby cup for a third time after overcoming Boroughmuir 21-19 at Meggetland in an Edinburgh regional semi-final.
The Goldenacre outfit now go forward to meet Currie on January 11 for the right to enter the quarter-finals alongside Edinburgh Accies and other British and Irish Cup qualifiers as well as regional winners.
Unquestionably, Heriot’s had to fight all the way in dire conditions and the fact they did was acknowledged by ’Muir coach Bruce Aitchison, who said: “Heriot’s are in with a shout of winning the Cup because the B & I Cup teams will be under a bit of strain and Heriot’s might be a little bit fresher.
“They are a strong team and their squad has lads like Graham Wilson who are very experienced and that counts for a lot in the club game, especially when it comes to keeping colleagues calm.”
The ability to retain composure certainly served Heriot’s well as they turned round 0-12 in arrears having faced a strong wind.
“Actually, I thought 0-12 at half-time given the conditions wasn’t bad from our point of view,” said Heriot’s coach, Phil Smith. “With the wind blowing straight down the pitch we couldn’t afford to kick it in the first half which is why we were tapping and running so much.
“I felt confident we were going to turn it around even in conditions in which people wouldn’t necessarily expect a Heriot’s team to win.
“We said at the interval to keep doing what we were doing except in the opposition half with the wind behind us.
“Our forward play was absolutely outstanding, particularly from Jamie Syme, and I thought we dominated every aspect.”
What’s certain is that Heriot’s knew how to turn the screw when ’Muir prop Nick Fraser was in the sin-bin on either side the interval for a ruck infringement.
By the time he returned Heriot’s had underlined superiority with the first of two tries by French student Nathan Borel and the key moment possibly arrived just before his second.
Pressing the Heriot’s line ’Muir were awarded a penalty near the posts but opted not to go for the three points.
“Looking back we maybe should have taken a kick to make it 15-7 and change the complexion of the game but I back the players who made a call to run the ball.
“Our dander was up because we had progressed up to the Heriot’s line and the players had a feel for how things were going. At any rate we didn’t score from the move and the cup is over for us now.
“But for another three points and maybe another ten minutes of play we could have knocked over one of the best teams in the country; at least we can concentrate on trying to gain promotion back into the premiership.”
Enhancing Boroughmuir’s chances is the arrival of Scotland under-20 squad stand off Ben Cooper who has moved from Sedbergh School via a short stint at Kelso.
Cooper kicked out on the full a couple of times but generally added a bit of poise and coach Aitchison expects him to go a long way. “Ben has a good and varied kicking game and if he keeps developing there is a chance for Scotland to have a really good stand off.
“He is a kid with huge ambition and great support from a family who drive from Nuneaton to watch him play.
“His switch to Boroughmuir is because he hopes it will be a springboard for his career and interestingly we go back to Kelso on Saturday in the league.
“We will travel encouraged by measuring up well against a team from the league above and we have also increased our squad with Stuart Currie coming off the bench to become the 36th player we have used this season.”
Heriot’s entertain Currie on Saturday in what will be a rehearsal for the Edinburgh Cup Final and they, too, feel they are featuring a player bound for the top.
“(Hooker) George Turner again showed he has everything going for him including footballing skills which nearly gave us a fourth try right at the end,” added Smith.
Overall it really was satisfaction all round after an entertaining and full-blooded contest even if the ball rarely, if ever, went far from the respective forward packs and understandably so given the gale and rain.
Scorers: Boroughmuir: Tries: Davies, Bradford, Scott. Conversions: Blackhall (2).
Heriot’s: Tries: Borel (2), Syme. Conversions: Wilson (3).
Boroughmuir: G Blackhall, J Webster, R Bradford, M Hare. S Johnson, B Cooper, J Adams, N Fraser, C Davies, J Latta, G Scott, T Sutton, J Hare, I Moody, A Rose, captain. Subs. – S Clark, R Wilson, M Bradbury, S Currie, D Roberts.
Heriot’s: K Buchan, C Goudie, C Ferguson, R Carmichael. M Nimmo O Brown, G Wilson, captain, G Cameron, G Turner, N Borel, M Douglas, R Nimmo, J Turley, J Syme, A Henderson. Subs. – S Mustard, K McKenzie, C Mulligan, J Gordon, D McMaster.
Referee: G Gordon.