Heriot’s captain Jack Turley had little hesitation nominating centre colleague Liam Steele for any man-of-the-match award after a 34-12 BT Premiership victory over Boroughmuir at Goldenacre.
This was every bit as convincing as the scoreline suggests even though Heriot’s had to wait until the final play for Graham Wilson to notch the bonus-point try that added to earlier touchdowns from Turley and Steele (2).
“We played Liam at centre this week (instead of wing) to see how he came through and I don’t think there’s much doubt he was our man-of-the-match.
“We’ll certainly use him there again,” said New Zealander Turley whose side had too much strength up front and flair at the back. Coach Phil Smith endorsed that view, saying: “Both Liam’s tries were good.”
For the first Steele cut inside and on to the posts 40 metres away with scarcely a hand laid on him while the second was laid on through having the intuition to stick close to exceptionally elusive full back Charlie Simpson.
Added Smith: “We ran Liam at outside centre for seconds over the past two weeks and found he has got a gliding running style. It doesn’t look as though he is running that hard but nobody gets near him.
“He must be doing something right. It’s great for him playing there and he gives our team confidence to go forward.”
Steele, son of ex-Scotland and Lions winger, Billy, first appeared on the scene a few years ago behind a lightweight Stewart’s Melville struggling in the upper levels of the league.
There is no shortage of physique at Heriot’s while around him Harry Boisseau and Simpson ooze pace, Ruaraidh Carmichael is quality and Colin Goudie is always looking for work; it would be no surprise if Steele kicked on to justify potential first spotted at Edinburgh University as a stand off with a club international cap.
While particularly disappointed that for the second successive week his side failed to exploit an opposition yellow card (Struan Cessford) and were also left to rue two mis-fires at attacking line-outs, ’Muir coach Bruce Aitchison sportingly admitted Heriot’s are a handful.
Aitchison said: “Jason Hill can seem like he is having a quiet game but he has such a good level of consistency when he puts his stamp on the game you know all about it. He starts to carry ball more often, he organises and is a real driver for them. Graham Wilson we caught at the back of rucks a couple of times but he brings leadership and can put players in position using his experience and has a good right book. Stuart Edwards is a game controller at stand off, too, while there is a very strong front row.
“When we dropped the ball sometimes by over-running we found Heriot’s were hungry and that cost us.”
Having said all that Aitchison was left to take comfort from the defensive solidity of Chris Hardie at centre and tries from Graeme Blackhall who made 20 metres for the line in support of Andy Rose and Craig Keddie backing up.
“Nice tries like those are needed as they give confidence especially our first which Graeme did well to finish off and came straight from our training moves.
“By the time we hit October we are going to have a different look with guys coming back from injury but some who didn’t expect much early season first team rugby are getting valuable experience.
“For the moment we just aren’t able to rein teams in when they get ahead and we lacked the broken play runners that Heriot’s had. But we are making clearer decisions and will get better.”
Alas for ’Muir, who trailed 5-13 at half-time, Craig Hunter damaged knee ligaments and fellow winger Apenai Kororua will be playing for the Army in the next few weeks which doesn’t augur well for a testing encounter with Ayr this weekend.
Heriot’s head for Currie fortified by a fourth straight win but claiming plenty to work on.
“We fell off a few tackles which is something to work on,” said Turley and – again – Smith was in agreement.
“I thought we had something left in the tank at the end and with the width and endeavour we showed particularly early on I thought then we’d win.
“I’d rather not have to wait until the 80th minute for the bonus-point try (as happened the previous week at Accies) but you have to credit Boroughmuir for defending well.”
Few in a crowd of around 1200 would surely argue with that.
Heriot’s: Tries – Steele (2), Turley, Wilson. Conversions – Wilson (4). Penalties – Wilson (2).
Boroughmuir: Tries – Blackhall, Keddie. Conversion – Martin.
Heriot’s: C Simpson; C Goudie, L Steele, R Carmichael, H Boisseau; S Edwards, G Wilson; N Borel, D McGregor, S Cessford, R Nimmo. B Cogley, J Turley (c), J Hill, J McClean. Subs: B Couper, G Cameron, C Sinclair, K Buchan, G McNeish.
Boroughmuir: E Farquharson; C Hunter, C Hardie, M Hare, A Kororua; G Blackhall, J Adams; R Wilson, C Davies, J Latta, T Sutton, A Best, C Keddie, A Rose (c), J Hare. Subs: S Bingham, A Wallace, J Hamblin, S Johnson, I Martin.
Referee: C Rudkin.