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Heriots :25 - Currie : 17
A View from the Touchline – BT Premier League: 14.1.17

Heriots 25 pts (t 3, c 2, pg 2) v Currie 17 pts (t 2, c 2, pg 1)

Video highlights click here


It was a classic mid-winter afternoon; crisp, bright and ideal conditions for the opening League encounter of the New Year. Unfortunately the rugby was not quite in the same category, with a big Heriots pack smothering the ball and dominating possession for long periods. It was only in the last quarter that Currie found their form, but a barrow-load of errors, and a mighty Heriots defence kept the visitors at bay.

Following yet another ridiculous four-week gap, the second this season, Premier League fixtures were eagerly anticipated with a return to competitive rugby for Scotland’s top clubs. How the Premiership organisers – the P1 Forum, have allowed this stupid situation to develop is beyond comprehension, especially when club rugby is struggling to stimulate spectator support and much needed finance to sustain the sport! With only a couple of points separating Currie and Heriots in fourth and fifth position respectively, and the possibility of a top four finish with a place in the play-offs beckoning, Heriots were also hoping to add their name to the McLaren Shield; this match had quite a lot riding on the result.

After the long Christmas break, both teams started a little cagily as play moved up and down the pitch without threatening either goal line. Currie were first to gain points with a Jamie Forbes penalty goal, but this was soon followed by Alex Hagart’s effort at the other end. As the match progressed it was clear that the home team had targeted their forward power as the route to success; the Currie scrum was constantly under pressure and their normally reliable lineout was not functioning proficiently. Mid-way through the half, Heriots built a head of steam that the visitors were finding difficult to contain; following several forward surges, the defensive wall was eventually breached by Struan Cessford, but the try was not converted. As the home pack gained the upper hand, Alex Hagart added another penalty goal which was soon followed by a cunning try from scrumhalf Andrew Simmers, who nipped through a gap after his forwards had done some softening up; the try was not converted, but it did stimulate a Currie response.

The visitors had found it difficult to gain possession, and when they did, the Heriots tactics to slow the ball worked extremely well. As halftime loomed, Heriots flopped over the breakdown once too often and Jamie Forbes found touch in striking distance of their line. The splendid Hamish Bain, supported by Steven Ainslie, secured the ball and the pack did the rest; Ross Weston’s try was converted by Jamie Forbes.
Halftime Score – Heriots 18 pts, Currie 10 pts.
Currie made a spirited start to the second half, but they could not break through a strong well-organised defence. Six minutes in, and from a lineout just short of halfway, the Heriots pack started a maul that gained momentum with every step. It was boring but effective, and try as they legally did, Currie could not halt the juggernaut which covered 40 metres to the goal line. Rory Carmichael was accredited with the score, and Currie’s woes continued when Alex Hagart’s conversion bounced in off the upright for the extra points.

For virtually the remainder of the match it looked as if Currie’s luck was about to change, but excellent defence and continuing countless errors, deep in the opposition 22 thwarted progress. Heriots rarely got near the visitors’ line again, and Currie were rarely out of Heriots half. Following multiple attacks, involving forwards and backs, Currie finally got their own rolling maul going; this 10 metre rumble was illegally felled just short of the line. The referee had no hesitation awarding a penalty try, and a yellow card to Struan Cessford for the dastardly deed; Jamie Forbes added the conversion.

For the remaining fifteen minutes Currie pounded into a brick-wall Heriots defence. Ross Weston ripped it open with a typical 20 metre burst, but the support was out-flanked by a retreating interloper who intercepted and flummoxed the assault. Luke Crosbie had a tremendous drive from close quarters, but the beefy opposition held him up on the line. As with most of these promising moves, the ball was eventually lost and the visitors had to start all over again. Unfortunately this was the story for the afternoon, on another day it could have been different, but the team must take credit for the way they stuck to their task, despite numerous frustrating setbacks and the outstanding Heriots defence. Next weekend we are at home to Hawick, a vastly improved team who will be looking for points to avoid a tussle at the foot of the League; KO 2.00pm. The pre-match Burns lunch will start at 12.00 Noon. IJS, 14.1.17

Updated 16/01/2017 by Ian Gidney