1st XV Match Report vs Edinburgh Accies
Stewart’s Melville v Edinburgh Accies 11/2/17
When the curtains opened on Saturday morning to reveal a perfectly horrid day, the scales tipped in favour of our north Edinburgh neighbours in the most important Edinburgh derby of the weekend.
Other senior matches in the city fell foul of the weather, including our own 3s fixture. The main pitch at Inverleith was, however, perfectly playable.
Traditionally Accies have a strong scrum, good driving lineout and physical ball carriers – and Saturday was no exception. To have a chance, we had to contain Accies up front and use the likes of McCashin, Hanning, Murchie and Morrison to ask questions and move the heavier Accies pack around the open prairies of Inverleith.
Perhaps Accies had underestimated us somewhat in the first fixture at Raeburn, but they definitely gave this match their full attention.
The weather turned the task from an uphill stroll in the Pentlands to a mountainous trek in the Cairngorms. A cruel east wind made handling difficult and the crowd, fortified by the pre-match clubhouse hospitality, certainly felt the abrupt change in temperature as they huddled round the stand.
It was ‘one for the purists’ – whoever they are – anyone with any sense would have stayed at home with John Inverdale to watch the 6 Nations.
Stewart’s Melville had the benefit of the wind in the first half and here is a strange thing – neither side found the wind a particular advantage, with kicks being kicked out on the full from both teams. It is almost as if your choice is limited when facing the wind so you are clearer in your goals – just carry the ball forward.
The first twenty minutes were scoreless, with Accies and, in particular, Campbell and Black tilting at our defences. Accies eventually found space beside the clubhouse for Kirby to score. Two further tries followed from Pearse and the impressive Glashan, with Evans converting one.
Stewart’s Melville, on the stroke of half-time, recycled well for Hanning to score and convert. The players disappeared into their respective dressing rooms for a heat.
Half-time Stewart’s Melville 7 Edinburgh Accies 17
The second half was more even, with Accies nudging further ahead with a penalty and Stewart’s Melville countering, in their quest for at least a losing bonus point. Twice we kicked to the corner to try and engineer a try rather than take the three points.
In the last play of the game, Accies broke free from their own ‘22’ to score under the posts.
Although Accies deserved their victory, it was hewn from their impressive pack and Glashan. Try as we might to release our backs, the last pass was fumbled or our first phase lineout went wrong.
Angus Wallace carried well in the second half and Sami Paulsson, once again, put in a decent shift. Andrew Warnock asked different questions of Accies after his introduction, with Nick alongside him.
Sir Nicholas came through his first senior outing at Inverleith since his injury and some of his footwork would challenge ‘La La Land’ for an award at the Baftas. The concern from the stand as he lay prostrate was quickly alleviated as the injury was ‘only his head’.
The game was well refereed but there is a difference between our game and the internationals. At our level, high tackles and attempted interceptions are de facto yellow cards; not so at Murrayfield – a penalty – unless they really are dangerous. None of the three yellows (two for us) would have merited such treatment in more exalted company.
Disappointing, then to compete so well but end with nothing. We have Selkirk next week for both firsts and seconds – it was close at Philliphaugh in the autumn so let’s see if we can turn them over at home.
Accies are a wee bit ahead of us, but, if we can retain our players for a couple of years, there is no reason why we can’t – like them – challenge at the top end of the division. Accies seem bound for the play-off spot, and, if they play to their aforementioned strengths, will be a handful for anyone in that match.
Finally, our half-time draw raised £450 for Iain Milne’s charity (Prince’s Trust and Bill McLaren Foundation) which is seeking sponsorship for his weight loss. A good effort – well done Janet.