Heriot’s 50 Edinburgh Academicals 8
Heriot’s will face Melrose in next month’s Scottish Hydro Electric Cup Final at Murrayfield, after a convincing victory by a 7-1 try count over Edinburgh Academicals this afternoon.
Melrose, meanwhile, did their bit to ensure that the same two clubs would grace the international pitch as last season, withstanding a spirited fightback from Premiership Division 2 Haddington to prevail 27-20 at the Greenyards.
Melrose, the Cup holders, dominated much of the early proceedings in last year’s final, something that still irks the Heriot’s contingent.
“We enjoyed the occasion last year,” noted Heriot’s coach Bob McKillop, “but there has been a frustration for the last eight to nine months that we did not produce the goods on the day and left it too late.”
That couldn’t be said at Goldenacre this afternoon, though there was a reticence about both teams in the opening quarter, recognition, perhaps of the prize that lay in store for the victors.
Graham Wilson, an influential orchestrator for Heriot’s, set the scoreboard in motion with the first of his three penalties but straight from the restart, a bungled catch resulted in an offside and Michael Campbell levelled for the visitors.
Accies, playing with the gusting wind behind them, enjoyed the bulk of the territory for the remainder of the first quarter. When they pirated scrum ball from a Heriot’s put-in, Matt Coupar all but escaped for the opening try and had he done so that might have asked different questions of the hosts.
Ruaridh Bonner mis-fired a drop-goal as Accies remained in Heriot’s territory but, on a rare breakout at that stage, Paul Loudon had to be alert to intercept a pass from Wilson to Oliver Brown as Heriot’s threatened.
Nearing the half hour, Heriot’s began to string together some phases with back-row duo Chris Fusaro and Struan Dewar prominent. Wilson miscued a penalty in the crossfield wind before Heriot’s edged ahead.
Off a scrum against the head, David McCall broke and Dewar was eventually released on the left. Accies tackling remained firm but left wing Andy Douglas retrieved the loose ball to drive over.
In first-half stoppage time, McCall’s hoof upfield saw Bonner attempt to clear for Accies. Fusaro gathered and, with encouragement from his bench, promptly pinned back his ears and breezed in from 45 metres.
Wilson had missed both conversions but from a 13-3 half-time lead, he was the architect of Heriot’s next three scores. His second and third penalties sandwiched a grand try which he created for his half-back partner Brown with a brilliantly improvised kick from a breakdown which Brown touched down, Wilson also converting.
Coupar, who had been in the wars for Accies but had soldiered on valiantly, was rewarded with a fine unconverted try in the 57th minute, but in forcing his way over he took another knock which caused his departure for good as Accies trailed 8-26.
There was to be no fightback either as Heriot’s added four more tries, a brace from that intelligent footballer Colin Goudie, McCall speeding over; and Graham Thomson cutting a grand angle off his wing to scythe in under the posts. Wilson converted Goudie’s first score and Thomson’s dashing finale to bring up the 50 points and produce the perfect send-off on his last match at Goldenacre for Heriot’s redoubtable captain, Tam McVie, who retires at the end of the season.
At Melrose, the hosts were indebted to stand-off Scott Wight who kicked five penalties and a conversion in their 27-20 success against Haddington.
The home tries came from David Whiteford and Jordan Macey. Haddington’s tries were scored by scrum-half Sam Johnston and replacement prop Dougie Orr. Stand off Jamie Peters converted both and added two penalties.
So Heriot’s will face Melrose in the Scottish Hydro Electric Cup Final at Murrayfield on Sunday 10 May (kick-off 4pm).
Our picture shows Heriot's centre Dave McCall en route to scoring their sixth try.