Top seeds to meet in Tennent’s Premiership Final
Heriot’s will face Ayr in the final of the Tennent’s Premiership next month after the top-two seeded teams prevailed in their respective play-offs today.
Ayr were awarded a dramatic penalty try deep into injury time to defeat Melrose at Millbrae in a closely contested match, which was level 3-3 at half-time and saw the Borders side leading by four as the clock turned red.
A cagey first-half left nothing to separate the sides. Ayr had more of the chances but couldn't quite click when in striking distance.
An early penalty from Frazier Climo in the second minute was cancelled out by Craig Jackson on the half hour.
Half time: 3-3
Melrose raced ahead in the second-half via Jackson's boot but a Grant Anderson try for Ayr cut the deficit to just one point (8-9) with 50 minutes played.
Jackson's penalty with 10 minutes left to play looked like it would be the decisive blow for Ayr (8-12) until a penalty try, six minutes into injury, time sealed it for Ayr.
At Goldenacre Heriot’s controlled the match throughout, keen to avenge narrow home and away losses to Currie Chieftains in the regular season.
Currie struggled for a decent platform in the game with Heriot’s dominating territory and possession from the start.
Wing Charlie Simpson scored twice in the first-half with Jason Hill and Alex Ball doubling the try count for Heriot’s in the second.
Currie were most effective from short range and scored their two tries from driving lineout mauls, one in either half.
The form book suggested this would be a close affair with only a single point splitting the teams at Malleny Park back in January and before that just four points when the Chieftains won at Goldenacre 23-27 in October.
However in perfect playing conditions it was the home side that started with more intent and camped out in the Currie half for the first quarter of the match.
Currie lost hooker Fergus Scott to injury at the first scrum and had replaced their starting front-row within 30 minutes as their scrum struggled and leaked penalties throughout.
A sequence of penalties enabled Heriot’s to build their first score after scrum-half Simmers nearly opened their account, but was judged to have knocked on before grounding when diving in from close range.
The home side won a penalty at the resulting scrum and kicked to the corner.
The lineout drive pulled in defenders and after a couple of phases winger Simpson was put in out wide. Ross Jones missed the conversion (5-0).
Much of the pre-match talk had been about the selection of Edinburgh players Mark Bennett and prop Murray McCallum for Heriot’s.
Bennett enjoyed some good early touches and was strong in defence, with McCallum called off the bench after the opening try and played the remainder of the match.
A Ross Jones penalty following an Iain Wilson break extended the score to 8-0 on 21 minutes and it was only now that Currie were able to generate some pressure from the subsequent restart going into the second quarter (8-0).
Gregor Hunter kicked a penalty to the corner when the home side were penalised inside their own 22.
Heriot’s contested the middle jumper in the lineout but it created a gap for the visiting pack to drive their maul through to score.
Hunter’s conversion was missed (8-5).
Currie’s scrum once again conceded penalties and gave Heriot’s advantageous field position.
It was this platform that fly-half Stuart Edwards exploited with a neat kick behind the defence, which Simpson chased and dotted down. Jones missed the conversion (13-5).
Heriot’s finished the first-half displaying their more accurate handling and set piece execution but with the scores still close Currie had every chance of a comeback in the second 40.
Half time: 13-5
Heriot’s made two half-time substitutions with Jason Hill and Adam Sinclair coming on to increase the power in the pack and it immediately paid dividends.
The home side won a penalty from the first scrum and kicked into Currie’s half.
Mark Bennett combined well with his fellow centre Robert Key from first phase ball and Currie were on the back foot.
Simpson stepped into touch as the attack went wide but Currie knocked on from the subsequent defensive lineout on their own 5m line and, from the resulting scrum, Heriot’s Jason Hill barrelled over after picking up at the base. Jones converted (20-5).
A Ross Jones penalty on the hour extended the lead to 23-5 and it was Currie who had to score next, and did.
A penalty kicked to the corner gave the visitors a great scoring opportunity and a neat double peel from the lineout among the forwards created a simple drive over the Heriot’s line. Hunter missed the conversion with 15 minutes left to go (23-10).
By now time and momentum was against Currie and Heriot’s had enough in the tank to generate two more tries.
A lovely miss-move between fly-half Edwards and centre Robert Kay inside the Currie 22 split the visitor’s defence and Kay ran in unopposed. Jones converted (30-10).
Currie had one last throw of the dice but the ball went loose inside the Heriot’s half.
It was quickly recycled by the home team and fed to replacement centre Alex Ball who was able to counter and sprint in from long range to seal the match.
Jones converted with the last kick of the game.
Full-time: Heriot’s 37-10 Currie Chieftains 10
Heriot’s: 15. Ross Jones, 14. Jack Cuthbert, 13. Mark Bennett, 12. Robert Kay, 11. Charlie Simpson, 10. Stuart Edwards, 9. Andrew Simmers, 1. Josh Scott, 2. Michael Liness, 3. Struan Cessford, 4. Rhuaridh Leishman, 5. Callum Marshall, 6. Iain Wilson (capt) 7. Jack McLean, 8. Struan Dewar. Replacements: 16. Jason Hill, 17. Murray McCallum, 18. Adam Sinclair, 19. Martin Hughes, 20. Ali Johnstone, 21. Alex Ball, 22. Rory Carmichael.
Currie Chieftains: 15. Jamie Forbes, 14. Ben Robbins, 13. Joe Reynolds, 12. Robbie Nelson (co-Capt), 11. Matthew Hooks, 10. Gregor Hunter, 9. Chris Davies, 1. Matias Sonzogni Argiro, 2. Fergus Scott (co-Capt), 3. Fraser Watt, 4. Vince Wright, 5. Mike Vernal, 6. Marc Kelly, 7. Thomas Gordon, 8. Luke Crosbie. Replacements: 16. Graeme Carson. 17. AP McWilliam, 18. Adam Nicol, 19. Adam Hall, 20. Steve Hamilton, 21. Rhys Davies, 22. Scott McGinley