Victory at Heriot’s confirms Chieftains are maturing fast

Heriot's Robert Kay is tackled by Luke Crosbie
Heriot's Robert Kay is tackled by Luke Crosbie
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Currie Chieftains captain Robbie Nelson believes that the growing maturing of the squad was the key to his team’s dramatic 27-23 Tennent’s Premiership victory over Heriot’s at Goldenacre on Saturday.

With Heriot’s leading by three points entering the final minute of a tense match brimming with entertainment while testing the nerves of both teams’ supporters, Chieftains mounted one final attack that was expertly executed and ended with Nelson hammering his way over to bag his second try of the afternoon. That score nudged the visitors in front and left Gregor Hunter with a conversion to add gloss to the final score line.

“A lot of the guys are still pretty young but have a lot of experience now. We are just trying to keep cool heads at those important moments and just focus on the basics”, insisted Nelson. “We know that if we do those things, we will be alright. It’s nice that we just trusted our system and our pack to score right at the death.”

And, describing how important it was to record a result that has moved Chieftains into third spot in the table, the powerful centre added, “I’ve never won at Goldenacre and a lot of the boys haven’t. Games with them are usually pretty close. Up until last year, they have had the better of us for a long time, so it’s nice.”

In the home camp, there was a feeling that the hosts had contributed to their own downfall in the final minutes, with coach Phil Smith saying, “That was a game that we definitely lost because we were in the lead with control at the point when we needed to be.

“We made two really bad decisions, so that’s the frustrating bit. We made a bad call at the lineout then a bad call in open play. So it was a good game but for once we didn’t learn how to win – we have been pretty good at that.”

The visitors had opened the scoring with a Thomas Gordon try, converted by Hunter, but the hosts battled back through a try from Jack McClean plus a conversion by Ross Jones who had earlier kicked two penalties. A Hunter penalty just before the break left the match finely poised at 13-10 in favour of the hosts who extended their lead when Jones landed another penalty early in the second half.

A Nelson touchdown and Hunter conversion edged the visitors ahead and Hunter extended the lead with another three pointer. But Andrew Simmers dotted down and Jones converted as Heriot’s regained the initiative and appeared to have the game won. However, Nelson’s late intervention changed that.

Boroughmuir faced a tough test when they welcomed leaders Ayr. And the match went according to form with the unbeaten pacesetters chalking up a 36-17 win. The Capital men’s points came courtesy of a Johnny Matthews double and a touchdown by Jordan Edmunds plus a conversion from Dutch teenager Robin Weersma.

Following a much-improved performance the previous week, Edinburgh Accies travelled with justified optimism to meet Hawick. An early try by Callum Black, converted by Richard Mill, augured well, but by half time the Raeburn Place men were 24-14 in arrears after Robbie Davis dotted down and Mill again added the extras in response to three Hawick touchdowns and a penalty.

Black dotted down for a second converted score and George Spencer did likewise to hand Accies a bonus point and a single point lead. But a Hawick try deep into injury time handed the Borderers a 32-28 success and left Accies with only two bonus points for their efforts.

Watsonians made the trip to face Glasgow Hawks and, despite a late Hawks fightback, posted a comfortable 50-24 win that featured a try double by Connor Boyle and one each for Rory Hutton, Jack Stanley, DJ Innes, Josh Rowland and Gregor Nelson, plus 15 points from Lee Millar’s boot.