Heriot's 12

Boroughmuir 27

BOROUGHMUIR captain Stuart Reid proudly stepped forward to receive the Premiership One trophy from SRU President Allan Hosie at Goldenacre, and immediately retired. The former Scotland back row man, capped eight times, also had spells at Leeds and Narbonne. Now he wants to spend more time with his young family.

''This is a great way to go,'' he declared, ''but I have to call it a day now.''

For Boroughmuir, who were knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Heriot's in the semi-final, this was rich consolation, the title they so nearly won in each of the last two years. As I left the ground their supporters were still singing and celebrating with one of their number perched precariously on a crossbar, having shed all his clothes. It is the end of an era, though, for the Meggetland club. Not only is Reid putting the boots on the peg, he is to be joined by veteran centre Lindsay Graham. And we may have seen the last of the hugely successful coaching duo of Sean Lineen and Iain Paxton. Lineen is expected to be appointed as a Glasgow coach this week, probably in tandem with either Hugh Campbell or Shade Munro. He and Paxton have had a fruitful five years together.

They moulded Muir into the most consistent club in the country. Capable of playing in a pacy, entertaining style they also, as they showed in this game, defend with great resolution when need be.

Heriot's actually had more of the ball but they rarely even looked like breaching the opposition ranks. It was a much better day for visiting fly-half Ally Warnock, who had been outshone in the semi by his opposite number Anders Monro. In the first half particularly the pendulum swung the other way.

The Muir forwards, Reid driving them on, were a rumbustuous brigade, Murray Driver in the thick of everything and Alastair Ness soaring high at the lines with Olo Brown first to the breakdowns. And what about the display of prop Tom McGee which he topped with a vital try? ''I'll tell you,'' said Lineen, never a man to hand out praise lightly, ''McGhee can be something special if he really wants to.''

To be fair to Heriot's they badly missed their injured pair Rory Lawson and Craig Harrison. They know they will have to be a better side against Watsonians in the final on Saturday and they will be.

It was the biggest crowd at Goldenacre all season, over 2000 - there is still a market for top-class club rugby - and they were provided with a thrilling first half. Munro tried a drop goal which missed but he was immediately presented with a penalty which went over.

After 10 minutes, good work by scrum-half Chris Cusiter, who had an outstanding match, and Warnock led to James Reilly steaming off his wing to slice through for the touchdown. Warnock converted then banged over two drop goals from similar range.

Munro tried another drop which failed but got another penalty to cut the deficit. It was a bit like groundhog day.

A searing break by Cusiter set up the next score for Malcolm Clapperton and the signs were already ominous for Heriot's. All they could manage was another Munro penalty. Andy Wilson had a long dash up the touchline but the cover got back.

In the second half, on a pitch that was as dry as a Kentucky race-track, the visitors had the benefit of the sharp breeze but, as often happens, they didn't use it that well. A sustained spell of home pressure, however, brought nothing more than another penalty. Marc Teague, who had looked the sharpest of the Heriot's backs, retired hurt. All too often the ball died when it reached centre Hugh Gilmour and though the home forwards stuck bravely to the task there was little sparkle about their side's play.

At last, in the 66th minute, came the clincher. McGhee broke clear, exchanged passes with Brown and bounded over for the try. The mandatory streaker appeared at that point but his goose bumps looked bigger than anything else.

Muir put on all their subs so that everybody shared in the final moments. The better side had won and the title was going where it belonged. Credit should also go to referee John Hogg and his team for the manner in which they handled what was always going to be a tense encounter.

Kenny Milne, Heriot's director of rugby said: ''Boroughmuir defended really well and we simply could not break through. We probably had the majority of the pressure but couldn't turn it into points.

''We missed some key players out there. It was a difficult week with the cup final looming and we will certainly be up for that. Congratulations to the new champions, they have set a high standard all season.''

Iain Paxton, Muir's co-coach, said: ''It has taken us five years to get here but it has been well worth the wait. We have won the cup before but the championship is worth more because you have to perform throughout the season.

''We should have scored more tries today - a lot of chances went begging. It was much better display than the last time we faced Heriot's and a marvellous moment for everybody connected with our club.''

Heriot's FP C Macrae; M Teague (J Sim 60), M Dey, H Gilmour, A Wilson; A Monro,

D Short; G Talac, D Linton, M Welch

(G Cross 68), A McIntosh, R Barrie, T McVie, J Osbourne (S McNeil 68), J White (E Gruer 78)

Boroughmuir S Briers (A Sivewright 76); J Reilly (C Keenan 76), M Clapperton, L Graham, R Couper; A Warnock, C Cusiter; T McGhee, D Cunningham, M Driver (J Cox 78), A Ness, N Pike (E Mathieson 76), A Strokosch, S Reid, O Brown

Referee J Hogg (Hawick)

Scoring sequence 3-0, 3-7, 3-10, 3-13,

6-13, 6-20, 9-20 (half time); 12-20, 12-27

Scorers. Heriot's FP. Pens Munro (1, 27, 39, 67)

Boroughmuir. Tries Reilly (9), Clapperton (32), McGhee (66) Cons Warnock (9, 32, 66) Drop goals Warnock (20, 23)