Heriot’s edge another thriller

Heriot’s 20 Ayr 19

For their second successive RBS Premiership match at Goldenacre, Heriot’s fought back from a deficit to win by a single point. A fortnight ago, they dispatched Gala, today it was reigning champions Ayr in a match with a liberal sprinkling of ebb and flow and two sides intent on playing positively.

Ayr can look back on two yellow cards , one in each half, as a contributory factor to their loss, albeit they actually scored tries on both occasions they were short-handed.  The second yellow-card, however, saw Heriot’s collect ten points while Craig Gossman was in the sin-bin.

There were talking points galore, not least the contributions of a number of the professional players, whether full-time, sevens (such as James Fleming pictured above) or elite development in category, plus the proverbial dead-eye dick goal-kicking from Heriot’s scrum-half Graham Wilson, which ultimately proved decisive.

The match started at a decent canter with Ayr’s Dean Kelbrick yellow-carded, ostensibly for slowing up ball at a ruck inside his own 22 in the fifth minute, Wilson landing the penalty.

Slick catch and drive

Ayr were quick to regroup and when Robbie Fergusson opted for a penalty to touch, his forwards delivered a textbook lineout catch and drive try, that they made look rather simple.  Glasgow Warriors EDP, Fergus Scott, was credited with the score, but Sylvain Diez could not convert, as Ayr lost the former Scotland age-group forward Colin White through injury.

With Kelbrick restored, Heriot’s were next to eschew a kick at goal, also opting for the touchline.  It seemed they had made a Horlicks of the throw but as Max Nimmo failed to gather the bouncing ball, his centre, Cameron Ferguson, seized on it and bolted through a gap for the hosts’ first try. Wilson converted for a 10-5 advantage which Heriot’s held until the break.

Here come the pros

At the interval, Ayr introduced Glasgow’s Fijian prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa and recent John MacPhail scholar Finn Russell, the latter showing up well, particularly in his attempt to bring width to the visitors’ game.   Heriot’s also interchanged their two pro hookers, George Turner and Kevin Bryce.

The third quarter saw the teams battle for ascendancy without either looking as if they could affect the scoreboard.
Heriot’s manufactured some space for Scotland 7s pace man James Fleming and when the Perthshire product was taken out late in pursuit of his own kick-ahead by Craig Gossman – mistiming rather than any malice – referee Peter Allan had no option but to flourish the yellow card.

Wilson struck the penalty but, almost immediately, Ayr were rewarded for some enterprising continuity as Kerr Gossman touched down their second try after Yanuyanutawa’s rumble. Russell converted for a one point game.

Heriot’s then made their numerical advantage count as they worked ball to Fleming, who scored his second try in as many weeks.  Wilson’s conversion from close to the left touchline stretched the home lead to 20-12.

Ayr were not finished yet and their third try was rounded off by Robbie Fergusson, Russell again converting but in spite of a late penalty in their own half – advanced 10 metres by referee Allan – Ayr could not gather possession from the subsequent lineout and they succumbed to their second defeat of the campaign.

Heriot’s: Liam Steele; Colin Goudie, Keith Buchan, Cameron Ferguson captain, James Fleming; Max Nimmo, Graham Wilson; Craig Owenson, George Turner, Stewart Mustard, Russell Nimmo, Murray Douglas, Michael Maltman, Alex Henderson and Jason Hill.  Subs: Kevin Bryce, Malcolm Welch, Chris Mulligan, Jack Turley and Harry Boisseau.

Ayr: Grant Anderson; Craig Gossman, Robbie Fergusson, Dean Kelbrick, Kerr Gossman; Sylvain Diez, Murray McConnell; Denford Mutamangira, Fergus Scott, Nick Cox, Scott Sutherland, Colin White, Callum Templeton, Graham Fisken and Callum Forrester captain.  Subs: David Young, Jerry Yanuyanutawa, Colin Dunn, Peter Jericevich and Finn Russell.

Referee: Peter Allan (Watsonians)

Elsewhere in RBS Premier Divsion, Melrose remained undefeated at the top of the table and secured the Bill McLaren Shield with their victory over Hawick; Aberdeen triumphed at home against Stirling; Glasgow Hawks and Gala drew 38-all; and Currie remain seeking that elusive first win after a narrow defeat to Edinburgh Accies.