Saints 1st XV sneak past Heriot-Watt

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The Rugby Men’s 1st XV had a captain’s performance to thank for their victory over a resilient Heriot-Watt side; outside centre Matt Hannay’s three tries oozed pace, strength and quality.

The match was broadcast live via the St Andrews Radio stream, and both the commentary team and the sizeable crowd who attended were treated to an edge-of-the-seat affair – Saints showed more attacking ambition and finishing quality, but small mistakes and lapses in concentration kept letting the visitors back into the game.

The hosts showed attacking intent right from the kick-off. However, the first score of the match went to the away side – Adam Best found a gap and pounced to score in the left-hand corner.

Saints, however, were not to be disheartened and they continued to apply the pressure. They were eventually rewarded for their free-flowing rugby with the first of Hannay’s tries, the captain for the day bursting through the Heriot-Watt defence to touch down.

The half-time score, then, was 5-5 and Director of Rugby Dave Ross took to the field during the interval to urge the players to be more clincal in attack and to take the lead that their overall play merited.

It did not take long for Saints to do just that; Hannay again the tryscorer, jinking his way through the opposition defence after some lovely build-up play – Scott Lang converted for a score of 12-5.

Saints were showing great handling and awareness as they looked to extend their advantage. Yet, just for one crucial moment, both deserted them as Heriot-Watt’s William Edgar intercepted a pass inside his own 22 and raced clear to score a simple try. It was a sickening blow for Saints, and it brought the scores level once more.

Yet it was only five minutes before Saints got their noses back in front, Hannay again the architect. His clever running and lay-off set up substitute Timothy Rogers to power over for Saints’ third try.

Heriot-Watt’s response was even more rapid: straight from the kick-off, Saints’ defensive composure went missing and the visitors’ concerted pressure brought a try for number 8 Nick Peters.

Fortunately for Saints, the captain led by example again: Hannay was on fire and he again broke the defensive line to run through and score – a hat-trick as spectacular as it was crucial.

That try looked to have broken the visitors’ fighting spirit and, when second row Robbie Lawrence went over and Lang converted for 33-19, it looked game over. But, Heriot-Watt are involved in a relegation dogfight at the bottom of the BUCS first division and were not going to give up. Jamie Jameson scored two tries in the last six minutes as Saints struggled to hold on.

Yet Lang’s more accurate conversion kicking had ensured a 33-31 win for the Saints, who were not at their best – nervous in defence at times, and they passed up opportunities to make absolutely sure of the win – but Hannay’s clinical hat-trick saved the day.

Heriot-Watt can reflect on a resolute performance that almost brought its rewards, despite being outplayed for most of the match. As for Saints, they can be proud of their first season back in the top tier of Scottish university rugby, winning most of their games and comfortably finishing in the top three.

Richard Browne
Saint Sport Editor

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