In an entertaining tussle at Goldenacre, Heriots and Currie served up a 27-27 draw in a match that had a bit of everything.
Currie proved unable to build on from last week’s superb home victory at home to RBS Premiership leaders Ayr, while hosts Heriots were relieved just to be back in action after after last weekend’s match away to Boroughmuir was called off.
Currie were able to profit from a lack discipline shown by Ayr seven days previously, and ultimately it was ill-temperament that cost them in this cross-city derby as they found themselves down to 13 men in the second half.
It was the home side who got the first points on the scoreboard when, after seven minutes, captain Graham Wilson slotted a penalty between the posts from just inside the Currie ’22.
Currie took the lead though four minutes later when Adam Hinds finished in the corner after an initial break from James Johnstone pierced through the home defence before offloading to Simeon James, who passed out wide to Hinds. Jamie Forbes added the conversion to give Currie a four-point lead.
Forbes could have extended the visitors’ lead on 14 minutes but his penalty attempt went wide. He made no mistake two minutes later, though, when he extended Currie’s lead by three points.
Currie displayed their strength in their pack from the resulting kick off as they stormed back up into the hosts half with a series of phases. Alastair Hamilton and Mike Entwhistle ran directly off the back of the ruck to force Heriots backwards before the home side conceded a penalty directly in front of the posts. Forbes converted for another three points.
Heriots responded on 22 minutes with a penalty from the boot of Wilson, but the home side were on the wrong end of the referee’s cards first when Marc Teague was sin-binned after 24 minutes for having hands in the ruck. Forbes was unable to profit, however, from the resulting penalty.
Despite the hosts being down to 14 men, Currie were unable to seize the advantage and add more points to their advantage. It was Heriots who added to their own tally, in fact, with Wilson converting from a penalty before Marcel was sin-binned for the visitors just short of the half time whistle.
The visitors defended well at the start of the second half to derail a driving maul from the home side as they aimed to cut Currie’s lead. Ross Weston was deemed not to have rolled away by the ref, though, and Wilson took the three points to bring Heriots to within one point of their oppoenents.
Hamilton was next to be on the receiving end of the ref’s yellow card and he showed his frustration as he left the field when he threw his scrum cap into the turf.
With the Currie pack depleted, Heriots seized the advantage when the visitors conceded a penalty just short of their own try line to take the lead. The home side drove back Currie in the scrum and Jason Hill was able to drive over the line. Wilson converted to add another two points.
Currie regained the lead 23 minutes into the second half. A well-worked try was worked initially by James, who broke clear of the Heriots defence from just inside their half to advance into their ’22 before offloading to Cox. From the resulting breakdown, neat handling in the Currie backline allowed Whittingham to ease clear before diving for the line in the corner.
Heriots stole back the lead, though, when Wilson again converted a penalty two minutes later.
With twelve minutes to go, Johnny Gray, brother of Scotland star Richie, drove over the line for his first try in Currie colours after Forbes had made a break from his own half as he side stepped a Heriots tackler. Forbes brushed himself down before knocking over for another two points to increase Currie’s lead to seven points.
Heriots had the final say as they levelled the scores with four minutes to play. Russell Nimmo scored a try after finding a gap in the Currie defence, and Hill executed an excellent offload to allow his fellow forward to capitalise.
Wilson was unable to maintain his 100 per cent kicking record for the match when his conversion attempt drifted wide of the posts.